Transforming learning through global collaboration
What is a handshake and why is it important?
Handshaking can be traced as far back as 5th century BC. A handshake is a sign of mutual trust and respect. It is a person’s bond, an agreement between parties. It conveys partnership, equality, peace. Even in the field of telecommunications, machines commence new relationships with a handshake to establish a common set of working agreements:
“In information technology, telecommunications, and related fields, handshaking is an automated process of negotiation, that dynamically sets parameters of a communications channel established between two entities before normal communication over the channel begins. It follows the physical establishment of the channel and precedes normal information transfer.” Wikipedia
Handshakes are an important part of any professional interaction, whether or on-line or off. In Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds by Julie Lindsay and Vicky A Davis, the authors write:
“Just as a face to face handshake establishes a professional relationship and communication between two groups of people, it is also how online relationships start.”
Any collaborative project, whether on or off line, is influenced by the relationships of the collaborators. The stronger the connections between collaborators, the more effective the project is likely to be. In a global project, an on-line handshake provides an opportunity for students to introduce themselves to the group and to learn something about the individuals with whom they will be working. The format of the handshakes will vary from grade level to grade level; a handshake amongst kindergarten classes might look quite different to a handshake amongst grade 6 students, which could, in turn, look different to a grade 12 handshake. However, the purpose is the same; to establish a connection which will provide a foundation on which the rest of the project will be built.
Grade Level: Middle Grades (4-8)
Students in the middle grade levels can vary in developmental level. Characteristically, the developmental level of students in the middle level grades is at the concrete operational stage where students tend to require visuals, models, illustrations, and activities in school (Orlich, Harder, Callahan, Trevisan, Brown, p. 24). The Glogster Handshake and project will support students by providing activities that incorporate a variety of options for visual representations, illustrations, and activities. Students at this age level are also very interested in being with their peers and a collaborative project will meet their needs for social engagement. Students at this level are beginning to develop autonomy, and yet often need structure and routines to feel safe. A project that is carefully planned out and structured, will help meet those needs as well. The interactive nature of the Glogster Handshake and project will also provide a variety of different activities for the students, which will also help meet their developmental needs. Students at any developmental level need an opportunity to meet and greet the students they will be working with. It sets the stage for the project and allows walls to be flattened.
Tools being used for the handshake are Glogster. Each student will be required to add the following to their glog:
Students will then post their glog links to the wiki and the ning and share their links with their teammates .
The purpose of using Glogster for the handshake is to give students an interactive, easy, and creative way to meet their colleagues across schools and start the project off in a fun, exciting, and interactive way. Students can add a lot of content about themselves in a creative, personalized manner on a glog which will help students get to know one another better.
Additionally students will comment on each other’s glog which will begin the process of communication with one another and help students learn how to communicate in a culturally sensitive, academic manner. Additionally, students can continue to refer to the glogs as the project continues to reference who is who and to get a sense of how to divide tasks based on the strengths of the students. Students can also use the glogs to compare cultural differences between themselves and other students from around the world. They can discuss the differences and similarities of what students from across cultures chose to put on their glogs.
How could the handshake be used within the curriculum?
There are many ways the handshake may be used in the curriculum. The Glog can be a demonstration of students’ understanding and application of media design elements. What are the series of decisions creators of media make in order to create a product for an intended audience and with an intended purpose? The Glog also includes both an oral communication piece and a written piece because it is important for students to be able to make themselves understood. It is vital that students can communicate clearly in the language of their place.
Additionally, the handshake is a good starting place for discussions about digital citizenship and the digital footprints students are leaving in the representation of themselves in their glog as well as cultural differences and sensitivity in understanding those differences. The handshake would work well within a Technology integration curriculum as well as global studies and civics curriculum.
Wallace Foundation. (2012). http://www.wallacefoundation.org/Pages/chapter-3-engaging-older-you...
Kottman, T. (1990). Counseling middle school students: Techniques that work. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 25(2), 138.
Orlich, D., Harder, R., Callahan, R., Trevisan, M., Brown, A. (2012). Teaching strategies: A guide to effective instruction. Cengage. Belmont, CA.