All teachers plan and program to the best of their abilities. They try to prepare engaging and exciting lessons and to plan interesting learning opportunities. After all engaged and interested students come to school happy, are eager to learn and cause few discipline problems. Sometimes though it is the extra things, the unplanned for opportunities that bring the most excitement to a classroom. The moments that allow them to make memories.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when I checked into edmodo a few months ago. After reading through and answering my students requests and comments I visited the language arts community, where practically the first post I viewed was from a Mrs Fairchild at an elementary school in Hanscom Massachusetts. She was seeking an Australian year 6 class to connect her year 6 to. I immediately responded and a new edmodo group AUS/USA was born. You may have read before when I wrote about the amazing connections my students were making. And about how Mrs Fairchild had commented on the improvements in her students writing and the interest her students were showing in her Australian project..
Well last week a parcel arrived, a box filled with American goodies, filled with a signed baseball and model of a baseball player, girl guide cookies, ‘spring’ flavoured oreo cookies, taffy toffee, maps, guide books, photographs and more. My class were thrilled. at the items contained in the parcel and the obvious effort that had been put into packing it.
The conversations that have been taking place in our USA/AUS group and the incidental learning that has taken place as a result, has been wonderful to watch. Now the classroom and edmodo is a buzz with ideas on what we can post back in return. What goodies can we send that represent Australia? Planning is a foot and soon a box will be in the post filled with twisties, Vegemite, tim-tams, Australian stickers and more.
None of this learning was programmed, none of it was planned. It was a chance connection that led to this occuring. Yet as a result both my class and Mrs Fairchilds have made connections beyond anything that could have been planned and learned more about life in another country than could have been designed on paper..
So why am I telling you this? Take time to allow the incidental learning to take place. Take time to make connections with other classes. Put out a message on Twitter, or edmodo or join one of the many networks of teachers from around the globe. Break down those classroom walls and allow your students to make memories. After all it is those memories that will stand the test of time.
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