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A Very Useful Guide to Virtual Classroom Collaboration

In this episode, we welcome Billy Krakower, a nationally recognized educator with 16 years of experience and a passion for bringing technology and creativity into the classroom. As a current STEM teacher in North New Jersey and a Google Certified Trainer, Billy focuses on implementing cutting-edge instructional design and is co-author of “connecting Your Students with the Virtual World.” 

We'll uncover practical, engaging strategies for integrating the four Cs — Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication — into your teaching. From engaging mystery location calls to the innovative use of Google Art and Culture for creative exploration, and the impactful use of AI in education, Billy shares actionable techniques to transform your classroom into a hub of global learning and collaboration. 

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This week's guest

Nationally recognized educator and author with 16 years of experience as an educator. Currently teaching STEM at the Middle School level in North New Jersey. Passionate about maximizing productivity, efficiency, and service quality in educational settings. Adept at building effective processes and obtaining reliable, accurate information for business decision-making. Known for leading excellent project management to meet objectives, prioritize initiatives, and multitask effectively. Experienced in designing, implementing, and delivering professional development and growth experiences for faculty in instructional technology and innovative design. Collaborate with faculty to support them in an instructional design capacity, inspiring and helping them implement engaging curricular units around instructional technology and innovation. Develop training and instructional materials for faculty to enhance their fluency with available technologies and software. Training and Founding Partner at Evolving Educators. Google Certified Trainer, ISTE Certified Educator, and 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader.



📝🌟 This transcript is generated by Adobe Premiere Pro and fine-tuned by ChatGPT for grammatical accuracy, ensuring a comprehensive overview of this podcast episode. While every effort has been made to ensure precision, I welcome your keen eyes! Should you spot an overlooked error, don't hesitate to drop me an email or leave a comment below. Your input helps us achieve perfection. Thank you for your support and understanding! 😊 ~ Vicki


Speaker 1 (John Davis, Producer): This is the Ten Minute Teacher podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.

Virtual Classroom Collaboration with Billy Krakower

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): Episode 823: A Very Useful Guide to Virtual Classroom Collaboration with Billy Krakower. Today's sponsor is Microsoft Education. Stay tuned at the show's end to learn more about their artificial intelligence course for educators. Welcome, listeners, to our next podcast with my friend Billy Krakower. Another friend, Jerry Blumengarten, and I have written or updated their book, “Connecting Your Students with the Virtual World: Tools and Projects to Make Collaboration Come Alive.”

Critical Thinking in the Virtual Classroom

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): Billy, today we've decided to focus on how teachers can bring the forces of 21st-century skills – critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication – into our classroom. So, shall we start with critical thinking?

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): Let's start with critical thinking. It's one of my favorite forces, especially in our book “Connecting Your Students with the Virtual World”. In both the first and second editions, we emphasized mystery location calls. I remember discussing with you, Vicki, the importance of these calls years ago.

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): It started as mystery Skype and evolved into mystery location calls. The concept involves one classroom calling another. While teachers know the location, students use critical thinking and clues to determine if they're calling New Orleans, Georgia, or California, for instance. They ask questions like, “Are you east of the Mississippi River?” or “Do you border any bodies of water?” It's still a popular project, nearly 8 to 10 years later, and a fun way to engage students in the classroom.

Encouraging Creativity through Technology

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): And the excitement it generates is incredible. I remember connecting our fifth graders with students in Nepal, despite the time difference. Now, let's talk about creativity. How do we foster it?

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): Creativity, particularly through tools like Google Art and Culture, is underutilized. This platform allows students to visit different museums and art galleries worldwide. It's a free resource that sparks creativity by exposing students to artwork from places like Paris, France. I highly recommend it for all grade levels, especially when physical field trips aren't feasible.

The Importance of Artistic Knowledge in the Age of AI

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): With AI-generated art becoming more prevalent, understanding different art styles and periods is essential. Knowledge of these elements is vital for creating high-quality art. This project not only fosters creativity but also involves critical thinking.

Communication and Collaboration in Education

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): Absolutely. At a recent conference, the amount of AI art was astounding. It's important to teach students how to use AI effectively in education. One key aspect is communication. Over my 16 years of teaching, I've found that guest speakers, especially from different locations, greatly enhance communication and collaboration. For instance, connecting a veterinarian school board member with classrooms in different states was an incredible experience.

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): Communication and collaboration are intertwined. Sharing guest speakers across classrooms is a kind, generous, and effective educational practice.

The Power of Connection and Collaboration

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): That's an amazing approach. As educators, we strive to make the world better, one child at a time. Sharing speakers is a powerful way to expand students' horizons.

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): It's memorable for both students and speakers. For example, a veterinarian I invited years ago still recalls the experience fondly and is open to participating again.

Practical Ideas for Teacher Collaboration

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): As we wrap up, can you share some practical ideas from your book that teachers can easily implement?

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): Certainly. Our book breaks down different projects by month. For instance, connecting with the Pearl Harbor museum in Hawaii or organizing a Super Bowl connection project. These are simple, engaging ways to bring collaboration into the classroom. Additionally, with events like the Olympics, virtual interactions with athletes can be incredibly inspiring for students.

Conclusion: The Impact of Student Connection

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): So, Billy, as we conclude, what impact do these collaborative activities have on your students?

Speaker 3 (Billy Krakower): The energy and enthusiasm in the classroom soar. Students eagerly anticipate the next activity. Even as a STEM teacher, showing them real-world applications like Amazon's robotics fascinates them. It makes learning relevant and exciting.

Speaker 2 (Vicki Davis): That's fantastic. The book, “Connecting Your Students with the Virtual World”, is a great resource. It's about building bridges for tomorrow's society and helping students appreciate similarities and respect differences. Thank you, Billy.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere