McGraw Elementary

An IB World School

Tech Bites and Bytes - October 2011


Technology is allowing students at McGraw to actively explore what it means to be a global citizen. This year, all 1st-4th grade classes and MattBrinkman’s 5th grade classroom at McGraw are part of a collaborative learning community with same-grade classes at BINUS International School in Jakarta, Indonesia.

I was fortunate to meet some of the BINUS staff online and during a visit to Hong Kong last fall for an IB technology workshop. We tested online collaboration between a limited number of classrooms at our schools last spring and based on the initial success of this have expanded our “PYP Pals” program to as many classrooms as possible. Teachers at both of our schools believe in the importance of students not only learning about people in other parts of the world, but also learning from and with them. 

Over the course of this school year students in participating McGraw classrooms will be collaborating with their peers at BINUS in exploring common PYPunits of inquiry, on writing and digital art projects, and in sharing with each other what they are learning. Students’ participation in PYP Pals is an extension of the curriculum at McGraw and will also help them enhance their communication, thinking and social skills. Having a “live audience” for students’ work is a huge motivator for them to develop these skills and provides a greater sense of purpose, beyond the walls of the classroom, for their learning. It also prepares them for the type of global online collaboration that will be expected of many of them in their future careers. Most importantly, this project is helping our students explore their world through a different set of eyes.

Classrooms in grades 1-2 are using a private Voice Threads site and students in grades 3-5 are using a private pbworks wiki sites that are “by invitation only” and are managed by myself and the media specialist at BINUS, Mr. Boni Pandojo. Each student has been provided their own unique password to their class Voice Thread or wiki, which they can access from school or home.
Information about McGraw students published on these sites does not include students’ last names, birthdates or photos of individual students. Parents can access these sites from home using their child’s log-in information, which their teacher may choose to send home with them – however only students or teachers are allowed to make postings.
At this point in their collaboration McGraw students are getting to know about their peers at BINUS. Comments such as “Now I have a bunch of new friends!”, “They have to wear uniforms!”, “They can write in English!”, and “My partner likes (fill in the name of  the music group/movie/video game/pet)also.” are filling the air in the computer lab and classrooms.
Soon,students will begin more formal collaboration with each other on projects and PYP units. We will keep you posted as our collaboration develops. Please contact me at or 488-8374 if you have questions about our students' global online collaboration with BINUS students or anything else technology-related at McGraw.
Paul Schkade
McGraw Media Specialist and PYP Coordinator