Borderless Teaching

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Just reflecting on this post from another trainee teacher about connecting with a class from Canada, and on this a blog about international teaching from a recent guest lecturer and local primary school teacher Helen Hardie.

Technology has enabled borderless teaching – the ability to teach a class from wherever you are in the world (as long as there is an internet connection). Teachers are connecting with classrooms on a global scale empowering children to form global relationships and understand different cultures from an early age. Pen-pals are becoming a thing of the past as you can connect in real-time to other children from around the world at the touch of a button. All these developments, I believe are positive – children are able to understand their identities within a global culture, and make life choices having gathered information from a wide range of ideas.

The ‘O Canada’ blog post really highlights the possibilities of this new international teaching. The Canadian child mentioned towards the end of the post, who had hardly written anything in class, was suddenly writing reams and reams to the teacher back in England. The technology and its communicative opportunities had such a motivational impact on that child that he was encouraged to write a great deal.

This raises important issues in terms of the dissonance between home and school literacy practice. Literacy is socially situated and its uses in the world outside of the classroom, differ to its taught uses inside the classroom. There are many children who are ‘turned off’ by in school literacy practice but who go home and write copious amounts on their social networking profiles or on an instant messaging service, who read websites or instructions for computer games. I am not saying that we should ditch traditional literacy practices taught in classrooms, rather reinvigorate them for the digital natives we teach.

Teach writing arguments using twitter, write instructions for a computer game, make them and share them with the world, use primarypad to write a story collaboratively with a classroom in China. By combining home and school literacy practices, I think, we can motivate children to be excited about the traditional modes of literacy that still need to be understood to be an active participant in our world. The National Literacy Trusts ‘Manifesto for Literacy’ (2009, p.7) calls on the need to modernise literacy in the curriculum to include new digital forms and encourage enjoyment.

Obviously, this approach may not cater for all learning styles, and may not be needed for all children (lots of children excel in their learning without these approaches), however, this collaborative, international teaching approach could be used to motivate disengaged pupils and reengage them with a passion for learning.

Not sure if any of this makes sense…I think it does to me?!

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