Faraway Friends – Connecting kids through technology

Just over a year ago I got the chance to visit Burley Elementary School in Chicago, IL. and see their amazing work with iPads in the classroom.

You see the Icelandic teaching association paid up to a $1000 every two years for every teacher to go abroad and visit schools and learn new things. So I used my grant to travel to the US.

The reason was that my 3rd grade class was starting an iPad 1:1 initiative in the fall and I was the project manager. And since we were the first school in Iceland to bring iPads into the classroom for such young kids, I was excited and nervous but most of all needed people who understood my ideas and had gone through some of the things I was about to experience.

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I met amazing people at Burley, including Carolyn Skibba (@skibtech), Kristin Ziemke (@1stgradethinks), Katie Muhtaris (@literacyspark), Todd Strother (@trstrother) and many more who are doing fantastic work and it opened my eyes. Not only did I learn new things but this trip connected me to people that could help me and through the power of Twitter I have been able to keep that connection for the whole year.

Late in this school year (around april 2013) we decided to collaborate with a class at Burley and called it Faraway Friends. What we did was that we paired my students with 3rd graders at Burley. What I wanted was to give the kids the opportunity to connect through the use of technology, I also wanted to improve the English skills of my students because talking to someone in English is so much more engaging than filling in the blanks in a workbook or writing English words over and over again and putting the paper away afterwards and never seeing it again.

I wanted to share a few of our collaboration projects we managed to do in the last 2 months of the school year:

Use croak.it to record our voices and send questions to our Faraway Friends and recieve replies through the use of our blogs.

Record videos where my students introduced themselves to their Burley friends:

But our best project was a collaboration using the BookCreator app in our iPads. We decided to create a book where we compared our town of Sauðárkrókur to Chicago, IL. We saved in on Dropbox and shared the folder between us so we could both work on it. The result… well you can just see for yourself (note: You have to open it in the BookCreator app in the iPad/iPhone):

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Big thanks to the amazing staff at Burley.

You can see our iPad initiative throughout our first year at our iPad website or our iPad blog.

Ingvi Hrannar
@ingvihrannar

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