#dojoChatEU: Breaking down the classroom wall

Every week I look at the ClassDojo chat and answer the various questions on the topic. This week’s chat was called Breaking down the classroom wall. It sounded like a great topic as it’s one of the main reasons why we need to be using technology in our classrooms.

Q1. What is the best visit out of school you’ve ever been on and what made it great?

I’m not sure whether this question was aimed at when I was a student or as a teacher so I’ll answer both. As a student, it was a class trip to Delphi in Co. Mayo. It was an adventure centre and the purpose of the visit was to do some team building with my class. I went to a very small secondary school and I happened to be in a class where very few of us got along. In essence, the trip really worked and we all bonded a little more and hated each other a little less when we got back! As a teacher, there’s been a few trips that I’ve really enjoyed but Imaginosity in Dublin has to be my favourite. It’s billed as a children’s museum and I spent the whole day wishing I was thirty years younger so I could join in with the magical world.

Q2. How have you used your school grounds to aid learning?

Great question! I haven’t talk full time in my new school building but I take classes from time to time. One of my favourite activities is to bring the children outside to look at the environment around them. One day I took the children outside to find a number of items: a piece of woodchip, a sprig of rosemary and a leaf from the herb garden. When we came in, we wrote a short story with two characters: Chip and Rosemary and decorated the woodchip and sprig to look like people. With the herb leaf we spent time using our senses to describe the leaf. Aside from this, we do a daily 1km run in our school and our basketball courts have markings that measure out the perimeter.

Q3. How can local schools collaborate to give children better learning experiences?

We did a great project last year in our town, Have you got maths eyes?, where our children designed ten posters with ten maths problems. We put the posters up around the town in various shops and invited all the other schools in town to try and solve them.

Q4. We have the world at our fingertips. How would you like to collaborate with classrooms around the world?

I’ve seen some great projects done with other schools around the world here in Ireland. For me, eTwinning projects, if you get a good one can be great. I’d love to pick a topic and work with another school in another country to compare our own experiences with theirs. I think projects like these would have to be mutually decided and could go in all sorts of directions.

Q5. How can social media the world into your classroom?

We use social media to engage with parents, mainly through Facebook. We do this by publishing all of our news on the Facebook page. However, sometimes if we are on a trip, we send live updates throughout the day. With ClassStory available, it’s probably better to use this service for the live updates. As many of our children’s families live around the world, it’s a great way to bring them into our classrooms.

Q6. What are you top tech tools for helping to break down the classroom walls?

I have several tools that I like but my favourite has to be video conferencing. Skype and Google Hangouts are my two personal favourites. We’ve done several video conferences over the years. The best ones were with the New York Hall of Science. We really enjoyed working with them. I also find Facebook is great for making sure parents are included in what goes on in the school.

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