Lorraine is a technology integration teacher for K-6 at a small private school. She graduated with a B.A. in fine arts followed by a M.S. in reading. The school at which she teachers has a small class size of about 13-17 students at most. Previously, Lorraine worked at a private school for three years. As a technology integration teacher, Lorraine models for teachers how to use technology in the classroom in a variety of ways. She also takes content from the classroom and transforms it into some kind of technology component that can be done in the lab, but parallels what is being learned in the classroom. She meets each class once a week for 40 minutes.
Lorraine’s emphasis in technology integration is primarily global collaboration, which is her concentration when developing curriculum. Lorraine says that while teaching can get boring, technology allows her to be able to expand beyond her classroom walls, and this is what stimulates her. To her, global collaboration is is essential. She also shared that the more you develop a relationship with a colleague, the more likely they are to be dependable and willing to help carry out any idea that you have in mind. Often times she finds that she and her global colleagues strike a balance with their individual strengths that they can bring to a project.
Lorraine shared many of her projects with me. At the kindergarten level, for peace day, she had the students create a voicethread of them singing the song “Peace of My Fingers” and then shared it with and skyped the writer of the song. For Fire prevention week in October, she had the students Skype a Firefighter in Arizona who had dalmations. Through Skype, she spoke about fire safety, read a story, and did a pledge while pulling her dalmation, Tango, into conversation to keep the children enticed.
In another project, one of Lorraine’s first grade class worked with a woman in Antarctica who was taking care of and following 8 penguin nests in Antarctica. Along with following the progression of Jean and her penguins through Skype, the children created postcards using a software called Kidpics and sent their postcards to Antarctica where they were postmarked and returned to them. They also made a flag that flew in Antarctica. Lorraine says this technology allows the children to experience things that they otherwise never would.
In another activity, Lorraine skyped one of her colleagues in Russia who had apple trees in his backyard when the Kindergarten class and first graders were learning about apple picking. This way, the children could make connections and broaden what they were learning about to other parts of the world. The colleague spoke in Russian, but would also incorporate Russian words. With this same colleague, children made a voicethread of them singing happy birthday to the penguin chicks and combined it with a voicethread of the class in Russia performing the same thing in their own language. This demonstrated how the project was used in other places and expanded the students’ thinking.
Lorraine says the layout of her classroom is based around a responsive classroom. Rather than having all of the students face away from each other on their computers, Lorraine begins each class with the students sitting in a circle on a rug to promote interaction.
A three-way synchronized song was also performed entitled “The Inscription of Hope” among Lorraine’s class, a class in Germany, and a class in Australia. The link to this project can be found here.
Another tool that Lorraine introduced me to is scratch.mit.edu. This website promotes logical thinking skills and allows programming such as graphics, voice, etc.
Some other global collaboration projects of Lorraine’s include the World Friend Project, the World Museum project, and my personal favorite the World Lunchbox project. In this one, Lorraine’s class took pictures and made animations describing what was in their lunchboxes as did a class in Germany and a class in China, all of which were compiled using Scratch. The students were able to find out that in Germany most of the students have very elaborate lunches while in China lunch is not eaten in school at all.
Lorraine says technology can be used in simple ways as well. For instance, she will often have her collague from South Africa call in and do a 5 minute brain teaser with the kids to introduce a lesson.
My absolute favorite part of the Skype session was when Lorraine introduced me to her colleague, Yao dong, a secondary teacher in China. I was able to ask him many questions and hear about his experiences with collaborating in Italy. He was very enthusiastic about keeping in contact for projects and questions in the future. After speaking with Yao dong, I met another one of Lorraine’s colleagues from Germany, Mikhail. Mikhail shared his experiences and I was interested to learn that he teaches at a school of only 40 students with 14 teachers. The class size is generally 2-3, with 5th grade being the largest class size of 8. His school is 1-11. Mikhail uses Skype specifically as a tool for his special education students. For Mikhail as a special education teacher, he says that the state pays for his internet. Mikhail introduced me to The Global Coalition.
The experience was wonderful. I spent close to 2 hours communicating with not one but three teachers all around the world who were so enthusiastic about sharing their experiences and keeping in contact for the future. It provided me with numerous ideas for my teaching practice and demonstrated the importance of Global Collaboration. A special thank you to Lorraine for sharing so many valuable resources, people, and experiences!