Literacy Across the World

Once again, the power of Skype has come through in our classrooms allowing students to gain a stronger connection with people literally on the other side of the world.

Sue Owen is another one of our outstanding educators who has really pushed the envelope with project based learning. Sue is one of our sixth grade language arts teachers who was able to connect her students with students from Indonesia. This was possible by her staying in contact with one of her former student teachers who is now located in Indonesia.

As Sue shared as we talked about the project and how it came to be she said,

In reconnecting with my student teacher of last year, Cady Windish, who is now a teacher with the Peace Corps in Indonesia, I learned that her school is in desperate need of free reading books for the students. When I plan my Language Arts projects, I always like to incorporate service into the plan so my students not only make a connection with the world, they make the world a better place. The connection between my students and those in Indonesia seemed like a perfect fit! In sixth grade this year, I’ve really focused on students using strategies to understand the elements of literature, so this was incorporated into the project as well. I invited Rachael Dierckx(another language arts teacher in our building who is amazing) to join me with this project, and she readily agreed.

Our students each brought a gently used or newly purchased book from home and read it during Language Arts. They then created a plot diagram, so I could make sure they understood the elements of literature in the novel. Once they were good to go, they summarized the novel, and then created a storyboard, which would be used later in Digital Literacy with Connie Jeschke (yet again, another amazing educator). Connie had the students use their storyboards and WeVideo to create books trailers, which will be sent to Indonesia as well to entice the students to read our books.

At this time one of my guided reading groups was reading The Limit, which is all about staying within your budget; so they investigated the cost of shipping our 100 pounds of books to Indonesia and reported that it would cost $1200! As a class, we brainstormed ideas to raise the money and decided on a garage sale at BMS. Students solicited donations, and then we held the sale May 15 and 16. Students did the marketing for the sale by making flyers using Microsoft Publisher and worked both days to raise $1347.50!

Last night 35 students returned to school at 7 p.m. to Skype with the Indonesian students and let them know the books are coming. The thing that made the biggest impression on my students was when we asked an Indonesian girl if she could have anything in the world what would it be. Her answer was books.

Hopefully you see that using Skype was the perfect way to solidify all the hard work the students put into their class work and service work. Skype allowed them to see the students and share the good news. Once again, we used Skype in an innovative way to showcase to students that the world really is a global village where we can all connect. It was not used to just talk, but it allowed the students to strengthen their connection with people. It allowed students to see who they were going to be able to impact.

My favorite highlight of the night was when the students from Indonesia sang us a song. It started with a few, then all of them were singing and the next thing you know our students were clapping. It was a powerful moment where people were able to connect from opposite sides of the world.

After the Skype call we found out the song was called “Sakitnya tuh disini” by Cita Citata. It is a very popular song in their country and is a type of music called dangdut.

I am so proud of the students and the teachers who worked to make this happen. Students were given a chance to not only learn, but to develop an understanding of what it means to be human and to provide service to others. The learning was authentic. Students volunteered their time and weekend to running the garage sale. Students came back to school to Skype. Students were doing so many amazing things that they often don’t get credit for and none of this would have happened without the educators involved.

Below is a Sway. Scroll down through it all. It contains everything from the project including pictures, project plans, Skype recording, and book trailers. If you have not used Sway you need to give a try. It is one of my favorite presentation tools out on the market right now and it is free!

If it is not working, then here is a link to view it all

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