I’m connecting with Margaret Simon’s DigiLit Sunday link up @ Reflections on the Teche. This week’s topic is relationships.
Relationships are created by commonality. A need, place, time, interest, belief.
They grow with trust and shared experiences that strengthen and build the thread creating fabric. With today’s technology, experiences can be shared without proximity they just need the common thread to build on.
Last year I joined a Voxer group with the common thread of teachers who write. Over the year we’ve developed a strong fabric of trust around our shared beliefs in literacy education. This relationship has become a source of inspiration and support. A place where we have tested out ideas for our classrooms. By teaching similar lessons, reading same books, we’ve been building our classrooms’ connections in spirit and purpose. Without knowing it, our students have shared experiences.
Kimberley Moran wanted to take it further. She wanted to connect classrooms with book clubs. Creating a commonality with books was a concept that had been germinating in Kimberley’s brain for some time. Read her post to get a peek at the process and the steps we took to begin connecting our readers.
I invited eleven of my students try out this idea. They would read with partners that lived in a place that started school three hours before they did. My California kids “met” the Maine kids on a shared google doc. Their relationship centered on their book. They wrote their thoughts and comments as they read. Their trust was apparent. They were all willing to put themselves out there. The book held them together. The book grew their understanding of the other on the other side of the continent.
In unexpected ways, my students started to connect and understand the lives led by others while at the same time living the similar thoughts because of a book. There were moments of confusion. Concerns that need to be addressed.
Student: “Why haven’t they posted?”
Me: “It’s a snow day. They aren’t in school.”
Student: “What’s a snow day.”
Me: “When there is so much snow that it’s unsafe to go to school. So school is canceled.”
Student: “Lucky! I want a snow day.”
After we had finished the book, we met face to face on Skype. We ate breakfast; they ate lunch. We had a warm sun; they had snow piled high. Both groups were thrilled to wave and say hello. Both groups learned a little more about someone other than themselves. Someone in a community far, far away was becoming a part of their world. In spite of differences because of similarities, a relationship is being built.
My students can’t wait for the next book. We’ll start the week after next. Our Maine friends are on Winter Break. And yes, the response was predictable:
“Lucky! I want a Winter Break.”