The Global Classroom

Jon Tait

Jon is a senior leader and deputy headteacher working in a large north-east secondary school. He has experience working in three different schools over 15 years. He’s very interested in creative and innovative teaching practices which engage students and ultimately raise achievement.


Jon regularly presents at TeachMeets and teaching conferences both in the UK and internationally via Skype. This has included presentations to conferences in Manhattan, Ohio and Dubai. He was selected to carry the Olympic Torch at the London 2012 Olympics. Jon has spoken to schools throughout the USA, as well as Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and France.

Follow @TeamTait

Website: www.edutait.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As seen in the June 2014 edition of our magazine As seen in the June 2014 edition of our magazine

Collaboration between schools has recently been said to be the key to raising standards, with experts sharing good practice whilst learning from one another. Throw in an international element with two schools collaborating across the globe and you’ve got some pretty excited students and staff! How often do students in the UK get to meet, chat and dance for students on the other side of the world and then have the technology available to immediately judge and give feedback on these performances? Well that’s exactly what happened at Woodham Academy in County Durham and Merton Intermediate School in Wisconsin, America earlier this year; sharing good practice and resources, and collaborating on creative and innovative projects.

"It was quite amazing to think that the work that these girls had been doing at Woodham could be beamed across the globe to another school hall in America with lots of excited students sat watching on their big screen!"


We came up with the idea of a live ‘dance-off’ over Skype where our students would dance for each other and then judge each school’s performance, but the collaboration was not just limited to the dancing. The teachers worked together on a shared judging rubric that would be understood and accessible to students in both schools, eventually coming up with an online shared Google document that each student could use to vote on the performance of each dance. It was quite amazing to think that the work that these girls had been doing at Woodham could be beamed across the globe to another school hall in America with lots of excited students sat watching on their big screen! Although they had never met before, there was a clear mutual respect between them all – they were kids, they loved dancing and they were super excited about breaking down the barriers and working globally with each other.


As the dancers from Woodham performed their moves, the students from Merton were using their smart phones and tablets to access the online voting system that we had created; the same then happened when it was Merton’s turn to perform for Woodham.


After the success of our first Skype classroom global collaboration, it was time to raise the bar again! Not content with having our girls dance off with other girls three and a half thousand miles away, I spoke to Merton again about an even more adventurous project of teaching Jump Rope.


As my UK students needed the skills that the American students already had, what could be better than having the American students teach my year 7 boys? For students on both sides of the pond, this would be an amazing experience. With the technology of Skype, we could effectively facilitate a lesson where students from one side of the globe taught students from the other side, live and interactively.


The students from Wisconsin were very excited about the opportunity to teach my students, and my group of boys were equally excited to be taught by the American students.


The lesson went down a storm! The students from Merton School did an amazing job. Their instruction and delivery of the lesson was fantastic. My students really enjoyed the lesson and really improved throughout, showing enjoyment, enthusiasm and progress, all in the space of 30 minutes.


In conclusion, these are moments in school where you just know that the students are going to remember it for a long, long time! The excitement, enthusiasm, commitment and dedication shown by all staff in both schools was incredible. To be able to connect and collaborate so easily with students on the other side of the world really shows how technology is changing the way work and the way we live our lives.


Do you use Skype in the classroom? Share your experiences below.

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