This is the first entry in an series in which iEARN educators share tips for making the most of your online partnerships.
I was so lucky to find iEARN five years ago in 2007 after having worked on the Armenia School Connectivity Program with Project Harmony. That project had ended and I really wanted my classes to continue partnering with students and teachers from other countries online. iEARN was a perfect match. I am a Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, Florida where I teach Economics and Government. Last year I taught World Cultural Geography and Advanced Placement Human Geography. My current projects are My Identity, Your Identity (which I facilitate), Adobe Youth Voices and Product in a Bag (which I hope to do this Spring). Prior projects I’ve been involved in are Kindred, Respect (Refugee Project), Day in the Life, and Students Unlimited (Service Learning).
Here are three tips, based on my experience doing global collaborative project work:
1. Build relationships one at a time and stay in touch regularly. Reach out to develop partnerships on the iEARN Teacher’s Forum, on existing projects, or through teachers you know in the [network.]
Example: I met Irada Samadova, iEARN Azerbaijan Coordinator, in Azerbaijan when I was on the Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA). I presented to a group of Azeri iEARNers and later Irada and I partnered on the My Identity, Your Identity Project, presented together at the iEARN Master Trainer workshop, and had joint Skype conferences with our students. I met her again in Morocco at the iEARN Conference where we travelled together and explored the Moroccan medinas.
2. Be flexible as some countries have connectivity issues, different school breaks and testing periods. Be open to have a variety of deliverables or products from your project. I exchanged a Cultural Exchange Package with Seddiqa Ahmed from Bahrain and partnered with her on My Identity, Your Identity so we would stay in touch on e-mail and the forum whenever we knew that our schools would be having breaks or testing.
3. Be open to trying a variety of iEARN projects that can fit your curriculum.
Example: I met Said Belgra when I was participating in the Day in the Life Project which led us to partner on the My Identity, Your Identity Project. Since that time we have co-presented twice at the Global Education Conference and finally met each other at the iEARN Morocco Conference. We also participated in Students Unlimited together focusing on our students’ community service projects and exchanged Cultural Exchange Packages. I am now so fortunate to be a facilitator of the My Identity, Your Identity with Said Belgra (Morocco), Asma Beriki (Oman), Huri Cinar (Turkey) and Budi Setiawati (Indonesia).”
You can contact Nicolle through the iEARN Teacher’s forum