‘Incidental’ Geography – The Flag Counter Widget and Authentic Global Connections

Reading… Writing… Speaking… Number… Chance and data… Geometry… Music… Gardening… Physical education… Art… and then we’re expected to expose our learners to Geography?

c18e9f70e9ffb9fdc4b2ed8d13550fea1c96fe5e1d2b222d923af14bd933c023

With such restrictions on time, and pressure from those higher powers to ensure we are giving our learners the appropriate skills in literacy and numeracy, it is becoming increasingly difficult as educators to ensure that we can provide them with enough insight into the (physical) world around us.

As a PYP educator, my goal is to encourage my students to develop a love for learning, and international mindedness. The latter of which is a term that has many different interpretations. According to the IBO, IB world schools ‘develop opportunities for sustained inquiry into a range of locally, nationally and globally-significant issues and ideas’. They ‘critically consider power and privilege in their inquiry, action and reflection’. But just how do we, in the PYP, make the time for ensuring our learners have at least the most basic conceptual understandings of the world we live in?

A quick survey (in the form of an end-of-week quiz) of my Year 3s showed that many could not even place our state capital on the map of our state, let alone the national capital. A concern, but the reality is, when do we have time to look at the physical world map? Perhaps in mathematics when we look at mapping, location etc. 

– – – – –

This year we have used one tool in particular that has enhanced our ‘incidental’ geography – that is, we don’t really plan to use it, but its authenticity and easy access has allowed for it.

In February, I was setting up our class blog with a little help from our PYP coordinator @WhatEdSaid. She said it would be a great idea to put in a ‘Flag Counter’, and at the time, I really didn’t think much of it. It was a ‘cool’ thing that would sit in the top right-hand corner of our page, and as new visitors came across our page, a number would come up next to the flag of their country, and the countries with the greatest tally would feature at the top.

As the days and weeks passed, the Flag Counter started to really take shape. We quickly tallied 100 visitors from Australia and welcomed the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Singapore and South Africa. The students grew eager to check the Flag Counter each morning – and any new countries that would come along.

I thought about ways I could integrate this into our learning. So, I scoured the school for the biggest map of the world I could find, and pinned it up at the back of the room

– While writing this post, another new country has visited us (El Salvador) – 

I put a pin on the map through Melbourne, and with pieces of twine, began to slowly connect our learning to countries across the world.

BhdVnB-CAAA8KAY

From Switzerland to Japan. From Brazil to Mozambique. We began making connections with so many different countries, cultures, languages, religions and ideologies.

Bog3ONZIUAAijqW.jpg-small

We struck a relationship with a class in Indonesia, and Skyped them to assist with their inquiry into different cultures.

Bo3DZC-IEAAHj7q.jpg-large

It ignited authentic inquiry and a desire to know more about the world.

Our numeracy focus on place value allowed us to compare, order and practice our expanded notation skills with the populations of those countries.

We compared different patterns on flags, and use data to assess dominant religions and native tongues.

But the best part – it was student-driven. The students wanted to know more. They were desperate for more and more countries to view our learning. 

– – – – –

Fast forward to today. August 2014 and almost at the end of third term.

– I just had to check to confirm that the count was 39, but we are now up to 41 countries: Welcome Romania and the Philippines, who visited within the past hour! –

We have had guests from every continent.

Over 1500 Australian visitors.

Over 200 visits from our friends in the USA – from 34 of the 52 states.

1 visitor from Tanzania, Bangladesh and Angola. 

– – – – – 

I think I may even get more excited than the students each time a new country sees us.

Maybe it’s the competitive nature in me. Maybe I just love numbers. 

Either way, I know that my kids and I are using this Flag Counter to make authentic global connections – and we have all the time in the world, for that!

– – – – – 

Click here for the link to adding a Flag Counter to your wordpress.com blog!

Click here to see our class blog! Don’t forget to leave a comment!

 

Advertisements

About Dean Kuran

I'm a primary school teacher at an IB PYP school in Melbourne, Australia. I believe in establishing positive environments in which students can develop confidence and curiosity, while nurturing the skills that will benefit them outside of the learning space.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to ‘Incidental’ Geography – The Flag Counter Widget and Authentic Global Connections

  1. Great work Dean, how has the traffic found it’s way to your blog? Can the blog be found via search engines? The flag counter would also lend itself to finding averages, lots of possibilities. Good luck with future findings with your class.

    • Dean Kuran says:

      Hi Trish,
      I post a lot of links of my kids’ learning on Twitter and use a lot of hashtags to target specific audiences depending on the content.
      I assume the blog can be found using a range of search engines as it is not private.
      The flag counter has so many great pathways in terms of the data it produces – bar graphs, percentages, timelines – endless opportunities in maths – as well as information about the countries themselves including populations, major cities, imports and exports and more!
      Thanks for the comment!
      Dean

  2. Helen Z. Landon says:

    I’m so happy that I happened to see this post and learned about both your blog and your class’ blog. This is such a great learning opportunity for your students, and probably you as well. I read a story a while back about a family that put a large map on their wall… they would look at their clothing labels, produce stickers, etc and mark the locations on the map. I love this kind of story! Great work, Mr. Kuran.

  3. whatedsaid says:

    Yep, that was why I suggested the flag counter 🙂 Great learning, Mr Kuran!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s