Home‎ > ‎RITS Blog‎ > ‎RITS Blog Posts‎ > ‎

Introducing Global Perspectives into the Classroom

posted Sep 16, 2015, 10:53 AM by wafflem@calhounisd.org   [ updated Oct 26, 2015, 7:19 AM ]

from RITS Member Heidi Gascon,
Ingham Intermediate School District, REMC 13

RITS Scholarship Winner 2015-2016: attended ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, PA

Being chosen as a RITS Scholarship recipient made it possible for me to attend ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. I have dreamed of attending this conference for years so I really appreciate the opportunity. Before I can even talk about the conference, I must say that Philly was a pregnant lady’s dream! The hotel and conference center were steps away from the Reading Terminal Market. Some of the highlights of this trip included breakfast and lunch runs to the market, exploring a variety of delicious options like the Valley Shepherd Creamery. While they only had one man making grilled cheeses for a long line of people, it was well worth the wait!

While the food was amazing, the ISTE conference was the most invigorating conference I have ever attended. To start, the vendor area took me three days to get through and put me in direct contact with the people and companies I work with on a daily basis. Meeting the co-creator of Formative was a highlight for me since I highly recommend this tool to many teachers I work with. After minutes of chatting, he asked me what they could do to make the tool better for teachers. Their desire for feedback  makes me want to encourage the tool even more.

The list of ISTE sessions was pretty overwhelming at first. There were mini-sessions, poster sessions, lightning talks, exploration sessions, and sessions within-sessions. The list (in addition to the size of the venue) made it challenging to decide where to go! The most valuable piece of advice I received from former RITS scholarship winners was to pick a focus. After looking through the presentations, I decided to stick with the theme Introducing Global Perspectives into the Classroom, a topic which really peaked my interest.

The first poster session I attended relating to this topic inspired the rest of my conference. In this session, I met students from Guadalajara, Mexico who collaborated with students from Georgia to discuss global warming. The students shared how they connected monthly via Skype  to build background knowledge, gain perspectives from another country and build presentations. The students could not say enough good things about the project. The teachers also agreed that while the students were discussing an important topic like global warming, the connections and cultural awareness were the most valuable part of the experience.

After this session, I spent the next three days attending presentations to learn which resources were the best to use, how to find other classrooms to connect with, topics to discuss, and  collaborative project ideas.  While attending sessions, I was also connecting with the presenters and participants through Twitter, building a powerful network beyond the conference.

Based on all the learning I did at the conference, I was able to start a plan for a Global Connections Group. The goal of this group is to bring together teachers in the REMC13 service area who are interested in creating a more global classroom and providing the support they need to get started.  Based on the sessions I attended, I was able to begin to develop a monthly plan for teachers to integrate this into their classrooms. A draft of this plan is outlined below.




Aug/ Sept

Setting the stage

In August and September, you will be setting the stage for your Global Classroom. Start by teaching responsive classroom concepts that will translate to global connections, create your Skype/ Google Hangout account, and sign up for the Global Read Aloud.

Responsive classroom

  • Teach respect, responsibility for themselves, environment and each other

  • CARES- cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, self control

  • A background of how to behave around other people

  • Once you can do that, then we can go online and start meeting other people

  • "I don't teach them how to behave online, I teach them how to behave"

Setting up your Skype/ Google Hangout accounts

Tips for using Google Hangouts: http://inghamedtech.weebly.com/google-hangouts.html

Sign up for Skype: https://login.skype.com/account/signup-form

Learn how to use Skype: http://www.gcflearnfree.org/skype

Sign up for the Global Read Aloud

FAQ: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/frequently-asked-questions/

Sign up: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/sign-up-here/

Connect with your administrator to let them know what you are doing and invite them to join you!

Spread the word to others in your building, too!


Global Read Aloud

The first project of the year is the Global Read Aloud Project. This project will use books to connect to you to other classrooms around the world.  For all of the details to get started, follow this link: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/about-the-gra/. The project organizers will send you everything you need for this project, so it is a great way to start connecting!

FAQs: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/frequently-asked-questions/

Sign up: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/sign-up-here/

A computer to connect to the internet

Read-aloud book

Sign up early

Check out the different ways you can connect with other classrooms: http://theglobalreadaloud.com/info-for-2015/how-can-we-connect/


Mystery Connections

Promote inquiry, geographic perspectives, and global connections through Mystery Skype/Hangout! With this project, you will connect with another classroom


  • 15-20 minutes in call

  • Each student has a role, teacher is the observer (see "Tips" for suggested roles)  Teacher- observer

  • Only one person can talk at a time

  • Students can only ask "Yes and no questions"

Making the connection


Reliable wifi

Skype/ Google Hangout

account for teacher

Webcam with microphone

Connect with the teacher ahead of time to make sure they have a reliable wifi and are classroom you would like to connect with

Assign roles to students ahead of time and practice ahead of time:


Start in the US, important for students to understand where they live before we move across the world


This month introduces two different pathways. You may choose to stay connected to your "Mystery Skype" classroom and celebrate Holiday traditions or try to make a new connection with a classroom that is participating in the Hour of Code.

Christmas around the world

  • Connect with your Mystery Hangout classroom

  • Create videos about different traditions in their countries

  • Share these videos with your Mystery Skype classroom

  • Connect for a virtual hangout to discuss similarities and differences


Hour of Code

  • Connect with other classrooms who are participating in the Hour of Code

  • Find other classrooms:


Reliable wifi

Skype/ Google Hangout

Webcam with


Video recording device

Ability to upload and share videos with other classroom


Connect with an expert

  • Find an expert in a topic you are currently studying and invite them into your classroom via skype or hangouts.


Global Data Collection

Using data to make sense of the world

  • Students are asked questions (religion, language, food, temp)

  • Students collect data

  • 6 week project (30 minutes per week)

  • Compile data

Connect with experts on the Skype Education page or reach out to local universities!


Collaborative content area projects

  • Energizingenergy.wikispaces.com

  • Did a whole science experiments with another classroom

Common instructional concepts


Reliable wifi

Skype/ Google Hangout

Webcam with microphone

Video recording device

Ability to upload and share videos with other classroom

Blogging tool

Digital resource for project


Global book talks with mystery hangout pals

  • Kidblog


Reading Month

  • Skype with authors

Student blogs


Reliable wifi

Skype/ Google Hangout

Webcam with microphone

Video recording device

Ability to upload and share videos with other classroom

April/ May

Flick in On: making a collaborative music video


Distance teaching project

Students created math videos to teach students in africa math concepts

The students in africa taught their language


Many teachers that I work with have expressed an interest and are anxious to get started! The first few months of the plan are pretty solid, but the second half of the school year needs additional time to plan. While I was hoping to start this in September, I have decided that I am going to need to put this off until January when I am back from maternity leave since I don’t want to start something that I won’t be available to support when I’m out.  If you have any additional resources and thoughts, please feel free to share. I appreciate any feedback.

I left ISTE 2015 energized and passionate about integrating global perspectives into the classroom. I can’t wait to share what I have gained with others in the REMC13 service area and beyond!