Monday, November 4, 2013

Learning with Tomorrow (Global Classroom)

This post and the following four posts will detail the journey of two classrooms half a world apart connected by one common goal: to create a global classroom. Through this global classroom we hope to give our students experiences and perspectives that would not be able to be accomplished within the four walls of our classrooms. Our goal is for the students to learn about the similarities and differences of another country while learning more about our country, state, traditions, etc. in the process. We hope to inspire our students to be inquisitive and broaden their world view. The reason I'm sharing this story is to hopefully inspire others to take the leap into the global classroom and to explain how easy it is to open your doors and invite other students inside!

My name is Arin Kress (@ArinKress) and I am a 5th grade math and science teacher and my counterpart, @Capt_KK, is also a 5th grade teacher. However, what makes our story unique is that we have never met in person and we live 11,262 miles (18,124 kilometers) apart. I teach in Grove City, OH (near Columbus, OH) and Jacqui teaches in Perth, Australia. After what seemed to be a one time Skype call in May, a unique connection has formed and an amazing journey has begun.

I had my first taste of connecting my students with others around the globe in May when my students and I Skyped with 16 classrooms over a six day span. You can read about our journey here and watch a short video about our travels here. However, in my experience, most times after the Skype call ends, communication with that class seizes as well. What I hope to share, shows that the communication and learning doesn't have to end! The Skype call can figuratively open the door to a global classroom that can last all year!

Jacqui and I have so much in common: teaching philosophies, love of meaningful integration of technology, our student-centered classroom, etc. and that is one of the reasons that we are having so much success! The global classroom that we are creating together excites both of us and invigorates our students. We began this journey just three weeks ago, and the amount of learning that has taken place is outstanding. We have compared curriculums and are infusing as much as possible into our lessons. Our students actually have daily and weekly communication with one another that I will detail in future posts. 

Why is this post titled "Learning with Tomorrow?"

Jacqui and I have never participated in a global classroom before, therefore everyday we are learning just as much as the students! It's a great feeling when we can learn with the students who are the future of tomorrow!

Also, we are using many different teaching practices and forms of technology that will be the norm of the classroom of tomorrow. Skyping, video creation, blogging , global collaboration and much more will be typical for students in the future. But these teaching practices are relatively new to us. Although we have the support of MANY other educators online who act as our mentors, no one else at our schools currently uses technology for educational purposes to connect with other classrooms.

Finally, Perth, Australia is 12 hours (during daylight savings time) and currently 13 hours ahead of Grove City, OH. Typically I communicate with Jacqui and her students in the evening which technically means that they are living in my 'tomorrow.' Although the time difference can get complicated, it's actually fun to learn with the students in 'tomorrow' :)

Below, are just a few images to show really how far apart our two classrooms are:

And what is THE farthest city away from Columbus, OH????

Yes, you guessed it - PERTH, Australia!  Amazing isn't it?  I couldn't have planned that if I tried! 

The next six posts will detail some simple ways that we've been able to connect our students in different cities, different countries, different continents, and different hemispheres. We couldn't be much farther apart physically, but it's hard to deny the close bond that has quickly formed between two classrooms on opposite sides of the globe! 

Here are links to all 7 posts in this series:

Learning with Tomorrow
Connecting our Classrooms via Daily Emails
International Naval Warfare
Connecting our Classrooms - Weekly Video Series
Student Success Stories
Future Plans
How To Connect YOUR Classroom

Interested in creating a global classroom? Follow the #globalclassroom and #flatclass hashtags on Twitter.  Here are just a few others I follow that continuously provide excellent global classroom resources:  @flatclassroom and @julielindsay. Below is a hangout with Julie Lindsay and many other educators discussing the Flat Classroom and here's the Flat Classroom site

And of course I would like to thank Jacqui for being open and willing to embark on this journey with me. Thank you for inspiring me, pushing my limits and thinking of my students as your own! 


  1. Arin, what a wonderful start to flattening your classroom. Thanks you for sharing your exciting experiences in such detail - yes, what starts out as a simple interaction can grow into an authentic collaborative curriculum. I hope you enjoyed our hangout as much as we did - appreciate you sharing this!

  2. Thank you for your comment. I have learned so much from you and am excited for my involvement in future global classroom initiatives. Jacqui and I have seen so many positives and we know this is only the beginning!