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September 2, 2012 / tasha cowdy

Making connections: start by building a community

As part of the Flat Classroom course I am doing, I have been reflecting recently on the importance of connecting and what this might look like in a classroom of five year olds. It occurred to me that in order to connect globally, the children must first make strong connections with the people in their immediate environment. Many of the rules of engagement are the same; respect, support, trust, turn-taking, working together, the ability to see and value other points of view and to build on the ideas of others.

In our kindergarten class I find that building connections between home and school is key. The stronger the home-school connections, the more easily the children can transfer and consolidate their learning in new situations and environments. Over the years, our class blog has become an essential tool for sharing children’s learning with their parents thus involving the parents in their child’s learning journey. With that in mind, I wrote a blog post for parents on the importance of building a community of learners within our class.

In class the following week we explored the idea of community further and thought about the different, often overlapping, communities of which we are part. I documented the discussions and posted this on the blog along with a video clip showing teachers, support staff, parents and students from our YIS community so that the parents could watch the video together with their children and further strengthen the connections we had explored in class.

Finally, on Friday, we sent our first tweets. The purpose of the tweets was to share the children’s reflections on their first full week at school with their parents. The next exciting step will be to flatten our classroom walls and reach out to Jason Graham’s class in Indonesia (by unexpected but very happy coincidence Jay is also in my Flat Classroom certified teacher cohort!) and Michelle Hiebert’s class in Canada (with whom my children have already formed a strong connection through #kinderchat’s Kindergarten Around the World global project). Over the next year these two classes, in different parts of the world, will become key players in our on-line class learning network. It is exciting to wonder where these connections will lead us!



Leave a Comment
  1. Julie Balen / Sep 2 2012 18:40

    I’ll say. What an adventure you and your students will have this year. I am curious to know if there is global connection work integrated in classes beyond kindergarten in your school?

  2. tasha cowdy / Sep 3 2012 18:14

    At the moment we don’t have a consistant approach. It’s up to individual teachers. However, quite a few teachers choose to pursue global connections and we are working towards gaining more consistency. For the last couple of years, the school has had a school-wide curriculum development focus on integrating current tech tools, and has supported that with a strong PD focus for teachers.

  3. Lisette Casey / Sep 4 2012 01:23

    How wonderful that your kindergarteners have the ability to tweet and blog and collaborative with students so far away. Excellent job in opening these lines of communication. I think of how digitally responsible your students will be by the time they are in middle school and it blows me away. I hope teachers will keep up with that trend.

    • tasha cowdy / Sep 8 2012 20:23

      I more I learn about what a global classroom looks like, the more my 5 year olds are able to connect. I see how students can be limited by a teacher’s lack of understanding. It’s a huge responsibility! I think the next step is to explore ways of embedding global learning and collaboration in the school culture so that we can be sure that what is started in one grade level is built upon and developed in subsequent grade levels. I think our school is well on the way : )

  4. Caroline Black / Sep 4 2012 03:47

    I think it is so important to create a collaborative culture in each and every class! Many educators often forget that these skills need to be explicitly taught and cultivated throughout students’ learning journey.

    • tasha cowdy / Sep 8 2012 20:26

      I agree that a collaborative culture is key! And I think it needs to start in the immediate environment. If students (and teachers) haven’t had opportunities to develop skills and understandings needed for face to face collaboration, it will be very challenging to embark on a global collaboration.

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