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Faraway Friends is the name that I created for the system I used while connecting my classroom with another classroom across the globe. During my time teaching Kindergarten, I connected with a classroom in Canada, Delaware, England, and Texas. Each of these classrooms had unique opportunities and all of them focusing on learning. Although there are some non-academic activities in the folders below, these were used to build rapport and relationships between students and teachers. When rapport was established, we could start the learning.

Here's How I Organized it:
  • I connected with a classroom once every two weeks (multiple classrooms means more connecting)
  • We spend roughly 30 minutes on an activity
  • We used Google Hangouts and other tools to collaborate
  • It was a digital buddy classroom. Each year I expanded it
    • Year 1 - Reading buddies in Delaware
    • Year 2 - Reading buddies and Math buddies in Canada
    • Year 3 - Reading, Math, and Science buddies in England
    • Year 4 - Reading, Math, Science, and Engineering buddies in Texas

So, Why Connect?
Todays best classrooms create environments that mirror the world we live in. They provide technology rich environments that offer choice and voice to students. These environments not only provide learning from the teacher, but provides peer tutoring options, and opportunities to learn from global experts. These global connections are something that many teachers often ignore. They claim they are too hard to create and learning cannot happen. This post will let you see some of the lessons that I did in Kindergarten, and hopefully spark some ideas of your own. Ultimatly, this post only provides a structure. The ideas and learning comes from you. Only you know what your students interests are, how they learn, and what they learn best doing.

What to Do?
Here is a schedule that I used in my classroom that has some ideas for you to use. Obviously, these should not constrict your mindset when connecting with another classroom, they should just help provide you some general ideas. 

Google hangouts are also versatile enough to be used in many other settings. The folder below has materials for some of the connections that I made from one classroom to another along with how to use it for professional development and staff meetings. Mirroring the world we live in your classroom or building will only help to create a future ready setting.

How did you find them?
Two words, social networks. I found all of these friends on Twitter. I simply asked around during some state chats and found more than enough people who were willing to do this. You must find someone who shares the same ideas and goals as you and try it. 

My Advice:
  • Give it time - build rapport to establish a connection to get to deeper learning. This will take time to do!
  • Customize it for you - I purposefully gave you very few ideas. Make it your own or let your students lead it!
  • Ask if you need help!
  • Keep learning at the center - This quickly can turn into a "fun" activity. Since this is "fun" and doesn't teach standards, it will get pushed aside. Make it standard aligned!!