Transfer of Modern Skills, Literacies, Fluency & Independence 4th Grade Style

Transfer of Modern Skills, Literacies, Fluency & Independence 4th Grade Style

I am currently in Argentina getting ready to work with a cohort of teachers at a German school here in Buenos Aires.

Andrea Hernandez, a former colleague of mine and current 4th and 5th grade Language Arts teacher from the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, in Florida has traveled with me.

Her current students (some of them my former students) have been following her travels by staying in contact via email and their classroom Twitter accounts (4thMJGDS / 5thMJGDS).

This post is a documentation of a Twitter conversation and a Skype call and our reflection of authentic assessment of these 9/10 year olds in the area of modern skills and literacies.

What a pleasant surprise this afternoon when the student in charge of being the Twitterer (Global Connector) of the week, tweeted me asking if we could connect via Skype. [Reminder: These students were with a substitute teacher, as their teacher Andrea was here in Argentina with me!]

I immediately responded with a Twitter reply and a conversation started.

Skills & literacies observed:

awareness of global connectedness

network literacy: what type of platform is best suited for what type of conversation or connection

communication skills: Twitter grammar, syntax, etiquette

critical thinking: problem solving of fluently and quickly switching to new Skype account when the teacher one was not available, then searching for and finding my Skype username to send a connection request. [ Again… student driven]

digital citizenship: following school guidelines in not using last names in social media

Within a few minutes, my Skype account rang and we connected with their class, who had a wonderful day celebrating “hat day” at their school.

The kids were excited when we took the webcam outside to show the summer blue skies over Buenos Aires. We quickly talked about Argentina’s geographic location and reverse seasons, compared temperatures (38 F in Florida vs 95 F in Buenos Aires). We gave them a quick challenge when we asked what the time difference was between our two locations. Their time was 3:35 pm while we gave the clue of 17:35 as our time. Not a problem for these information literate students as they quickly googled the time in BSAS and converted military time to am/pm to know that we were 2 hours apart.

It was not a long Skype call, but reassured their teacher Andrea, that her students were able to transfer skills learned with her in the classroom to fluently and independently take advantage of authentic opportunities when they presented themselves.

This fluency of modern skills and literacies did not happen overnight or come naturally to these students. They have been blogging for a minimum of 4 years. Their teachers have strategically been bringing in Skypportunities, and starting in 4th grade they earn the right to ownership of a classroom Twitter account to make global connection and build a learning network. [With teacher supervision… with embedded digital citizenship lessons throughout the year as well as taking advantage of every teachable moment…with trust relationship between the teacher and her students]

Take a look at the Twitter profile of 4th and 5th grade.

4th grade students using Twitter to thin the classroom walls. This Twitter account is 100% student owned and operated

We are a 5th grade class interested in sharing our learning & connecting with other clases. This Twitter account is 100% student owned & operated.

Students are learning to reach out and make connections with other classroom Twitter accounts.

cross posted at

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at