Transforming learning through global collaboration
Global Project Handshake Proposal
Dottie Barrow, Akram Bhatti, Tamara Wolpowitz
We are proposing a handshake that focuses on a group of 700 middle school age students in 15 different countries from 20 schools.
Why is a handshake important?
New neuroscience research is confirming an old adage about the power of a handshake: strangers do form a better impression of those who proffer their hand in greeting. A firm, friendly handshake by a male in the Western world as a way to make a good first impression, and the greeting is thought to date to ancient times as a way of showing a stranger you had no weapons. According to Science Daily, a paper published online and for the December print issue of the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience on a study of the neural correlates of a handshake is giving insight into just how important the practice is to the evaluations we make of subsequent social interactions.
The study was led by Beckman Institute researcher Florin Dolcos and Department of Psychology postdoctoral research associate Sanda Dolcos. They found, as they wrote, that "a handshake preceding social interaction enhanced the positive impact of approach and diminished the negative impact of avoidance behavior on the evaluation of social interaction."
The handshake is powerful and a confident one results in a positive encounter and impression. We know that intuitively but now science is starting to provide proof. "The regions of the social cognition network are commonly engaged when people are assessing the intentions of others," Florin Dolcos said. "They had been identified before and people who have difficulty in interactions, like people with autism, have reduced response in this region.”
On the first day of school some teachers in schools stand outside of their classroom walls and greet their students with a firm handshake to welcome them. I remember my elementary schooling and remember those handshakes to this day. I had a favorable impression of those teachers who conducted this practice. I felt it was a way to “break the ice” so to speak and get to know him or her in an informal manner. Trust was created. There was a time when people would simply ask for a handshake in return for a commodity or money.
Why do students this age need to create a digital handshake?
How do we create a strong first impression digitally with students and colleagues across the globe? Technopersonal skills as discussed in the text are essential namely that students need to be able to communicate via the internet and make their presence “known” digitally. This is done by reading and responding through text, video or chat. Technopersonal skills is a is a skill set, which requires planning and thoughtful deliberation to utilize the whole array of Web 2.0and VOIP technologies to their maximum effectiveness. This means using techno-personal skills in order to communicate via readers, blogs, wikis and other pull and push technologies. Each technical arena has their own communication protocol and this has to be learned by the student in order to communicate effectively and to create an empathetic handshake.
For example, posting a website to a social bookmarking tool such as Diigo is a different method of communicating and posting information than it would be for a tweet on Twitter, or posting feedback on a social website like Facebook, on a discussion board in a Wiki, or writing one’s comments and thoughts in a web journal blog. To move smoothly in these different arenas requires a clear purpose of communication and thinking. As well to navigate a digital handshake across great or small distances through the internet requires clarity of thought and purpose.
In order to work together and understand the nuances of their collaborators, students need to know something about them. A handshake is the first step toward creating a trusting and flourishing working relationship. It also helps teachers guide their students through the process of learning about each other.
Schools will be broken into groups of five. Each school would have four things to share with their groups (avatar, audio, video, YouTube music video link). Everything will be shared on a wiki with a grid for the four tasks from each school. The students will be given a list of schools and their country in their group. They will try to guess who each school is after viewing the information shared in the icebreaker activity. The goal is to give good information in hopes that others will be able to guess the location of their school or maybe even their school. For example: give some clues about your climate, landscape, population, or area when explaining what you would do on a free day from school, when explaining the 5 things you would take with your anywhere, when designing your avatar, etc. The idea is to have the students create something that they will be sharing about themselves, but then also to carefully view the other schools and try to match everyone up.
We propose an icebreaker activity where students in each class are given a choice of one of four groups:
1. Create a look alike avatar that all your friends would recognize instantly. Avatar suggestions (do not register, create them and then take a screenshot):
Build your Wild self http://www.buildyourwildself.com/
Doppel Me http://doppelme.com/create/
Doll Divine http://www.dolldivine.com/adventurer.html
SouthPark http://www.southparkstudios.com/avatar ??? my students love this one
Dudes and Dollz http://www.dudefactory.com/
2. Create an audio recording explaining what you would do on a free day from school.
3. Create a 30 second video explaining the top 5 things you would take with you anywhere.
Suggested technology for hosting – YouTube, School Tube, Vimeo, Wiki or Ning
4. Share a YouTube video of a current hit that is by a top musician/group from your area or country.
While this handshake proposal is aimed at introducing geographically/culturally different groups to each other it can also be used within a school or even school district. Students could create an avatar or a list of what they would want to do on their day off based on their own culture and introduce themselves to others. In addition, the various technology pieces could support creating blogs and give students tools to use in other classes for showing their knowledge.