Kindergarten Around the World (tagged on twitter as #kinderworld) is a twitter-based, virtual exchange project, for our very youngest students.
Project signups from interested teachers are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please visit Project Description and FAQ to sign up.
(Pour des informations en Français, SVP visitez "En Français, SVP!" ou bien écrivez moi! Je suis toujours à la recherche des classes de langue française pour le projet.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Project Update 2014-15

Hi Gang!

Thanks for your patience while I have updated the project to be more self-sustaining (and lower maintenance for me!). I think you will like the changes, as we have moved to a more self-serve model, making you all less dependent on my crazy schedule. 

Whether you are new to the project, or have participated before (I know some of you are coming up on your 5th year of participation), please take the time to read through this page, top to bottom. I know it's long but but covers a lot, and even if you have participated before, there are some changes for this year. Please, bear with me, and soldier on. I promise you will get to the signup link in no time!

Kindergarten Around The World 2014-15 

Kindergarten Around the World is a twitter-based virtual exchange project, allowing young students to experience and explore a way of life different from their own, by building a relationship with a class of similarly-aged children. It was piloted using 8 classes in 2010-11, and has grown exponetially since them.

The project is based out of Calgary French and International School (www.cfis.com) located in Calgary, Canada. The coordinator (me!) is Amy Murray (@happycampergirl).  

By developing a relationship with a kindergarten class in another part of the world, participating students will: 
  • Compare and contrast their own daily lives with those of other  students around the world.
  • See themselves as part of a larger, international community of Kindergarten-aged children
  • Develop an awareness of and appreciation for other cultures
  • Reflect on their own school lives and daily experiences.
  • Explore the use of technology as a tool to communicate and build relationships.

Who can participate?
Most participating classes have students between the ages of 4 and 6; however, other age groups can participate if they are open to being matched with younger students. We have had classes as old as 8th grade participate very successfully.

All participating teachers must: 
  • Have a twitter account separate from their class account. 
  • Have regular internet access.
  • Have (or be willing to create) a Twitter account for their class.
  • Be willing to check their class twitter account at least 3 times a week to communicate with their partner class. 
 Why do *I*, as the teacher have to have a twitter account, too?
The more I work with and reflect on young children and social media, the more firmly I believe that it is not responsible for us to lead our students to social media tools that we don't use and understand ourselves.  As the project coordinator, I am not comfortable encouraging you to tweet with your class if you are not tweeting yourself. For more details on this, you can read my blog post: So You Want to Tweet With Kindergarten. 

Additonally, twitter can provide you, as a teacher, with amazing, ongoing, free professional development. For more on how and why to use twitter for your own PD, check out: Of Bellybutton Lint & Glitter.

If you need some help getting started on twitter as a kindergarten teacher, #Kinderchat has a great Newbie's Guide!

As a final note, providing a teacher twitter account gives me and your partner teacher an additional, "backup" way to contact you, in case e-mails get stuck in spam filters, or blocked by school network security.

How does it the project work?
This year, the matching process has been changed to a "self-serve" format. There are 2 ways to find a partner (or a couple of partner) class(es) for the project. You are welcome to pursue BOTH options in the hopes of finding an appropriate match on a timeline that works for you!

1 - Complete the form linked below, and wait for a partner class to contact you.

2 - Contact one of the classes listed on the form below.

When does the project start?
As soon as you have a partner class, you can start at any time that works for both of you. 

How long does the project last?
This is entirely up to you and your partner teacher. To help children build relationships, I recommend that you maintain contact for at least 3 months. 

Am I guaranteed a partner class from another country?
For the purposes of the project, the definition of diversity is not limited to geography. As an example, in the past, an urban school in New York was (very successfully) matched with a school in ranching community in Colorado. While I encourage you to be open to all kinds of matches, if you have an interest in a particular country, you are welcome to be very specific in your requests.
But I really want a class from a different country!  
No problem! Please note that in the signup form. Remember, though,  that the more specific your request, the more time it may take for me to find you an appropriate match, and that a match is not guaranteed to anyone.

The most important goal of the project is for children to vicariously experience a life different from their own.  The project is what YOU, the teachers, make it.

Once I have a match, what do I do?
Please contact the teacher directly, using the e-mail address provided on the listing. If you receive an e-mail from a prospective partner, please reply within 10 days. If, after that time, you have not received a response from them by e-mail or twitter, please e-mail me (Amy), and I will remove their listing. 

Note that if a prospective match reports that you have not responded to their attempts to communicate, and I am unable to contact you within 10 days, myself, I will remove your listing from the project. The project is entirely dependent on the communication between partner teachers.

Ok, I have a match, we're in touch, NOW WHAT?
Now: whatever you want! Work with your partner teacher to come up with a timeline and ideas that work for both of your classes. 

For an outline of how we do the project at my school, please visit the sample project page. 
 Some teachers may choose to make the project their primary "theme" for a set period of time, others may choose to weave it into their existing program. There are no firm rules about how to integrate the project into your classroom -- as long as it is working for you and your partner teacher, you are doing it right!

I have a friend at a school in another country, and we would like to to do this project. Can we just DO IT, or do you have to match us?
That is wonderful news! Please go right ahead, and keep me posted on how it is going. If you would like me to include you in the project map, please e-mail me and let me know who/where you are!

I really want to do this, but my administrator is not on board. How can I convince her/him?

To start, try sharing my blog posts about the power of twitter. You can find all of them here.
You can also share some of the media coverage of this project.

If you need additional support or testimonials, please contact me. My own administrators would also be happy to talk with yours.

Okay, okay, I'm ready to sign up already! Where do I go?

The listings page is found here. You can type your information right into the form, following the example provided. 

It is VERY important that all the mandatory fields (shaded in green) are completed. Incomplete listings will be removed.

Once gain, the listings page is RIGHT HERE! (You may want to bookmark it!)

Wait! I need to know something that you haven't covered here!
Please, e-mail me, or find me on twitter: @happycampergirl.

I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks for joining me in this adventure.

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