I mentioned previously that in July, Microsoft held its US Innovative Education Forum in Washington D.C. From this celebration of excellence in education a few leading teachers were recognized for their truly outstanding work. They will be participating in the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in South Africa at the end of October. Over the next few weeks, they will blog about their projects and perspectives with you. Comments/questions encouraged!
To get us started we have our first post from Cheryl Arnett, a teacher at Sunset Elementary School in Craig, Colorado, we asked her to tell us about her project.
A Celebration of Learning and Culture
by Cheryl Arnett and Rawya Shatila
Craig, Colorado, USA and Beirut, Lebanon
Although we were in countries on opposite sides of the world, Rawya and I had a desire for our first grade students to expand their global and cultural awareness and to enrich their learning through the use of technology. Using epals.com to locate partner classes, a relationship developed and a project was underway. Students participated in a variety of activities that were recorded, posted, shared, and enjoyed by the students.
While developing 21st Century skills, our first graders learned to communicate and collaborate using wikis and blogs. They created digital stories and shared classroom projects. The sharing often inspired activities and learning in the partner classroom around the globe.
Using technology enriched learning in all content areas. Our young learners reinforced reading and writing skills in their communications. They also put math and science skills to work as they compared weather, time differences, and shared core learning.
Most importantly, the children made new friends.
Our objectives and outcomes:
· Increased academic achievement in reading, writing, listening, and speaking
· Increased academic achievement in geography and global awareness
· Development of cultural understanding and respect for diversity
· Development of 21st century skills in communication, collaboration, creativity and digital citizenship
· You can see our work:
Technology skills grew as students became experts at manipulating their own wiki posting messages and reading those from their friends. They learned to locate geographical places using Google Earth and to explore time and weather using online resources.
The project offered young children a wonderful opportunity to interact with others as they built and developed friendships with children in other places.
In addition to the student learning, we, as teachers and friends, learned from each other. We share a belief that education must stay current with the changing world. By bringing 21st century skills into our classrooms we will help our students learn to be successful citizens of the world. We shared ideas, resources, and friendship throughout our project and continue to do so on an ongoing basis. That was made possible through the use of web 2.0 tools and social networking. It is key to the success of a collaborative project that there be communication.
We share the same hopes and dreams for the children we teach, ourselves, and the world. Health, hope, and world peace…
Thank you Stacey for giving us the chance to tell about our project here. I'd like to add the link to our power point presentation:
Cheryl and Rawya, it was a pleasure meeting you in Cape Town this week and above all you were truly inspirational. I hope to have my Grade 1 class in Johannesburg communicating and collaborating with your children as soon as possible.