Students at Storm Lake Elementary continue international journey with Keep the Dream Going Grant

chalkboard world 2Two years ago, Storm Lake Elementary in Storm Lake, IA, used a Sharing the Dream Grant to purchase Netbooks so that kindergartners with no access to computers at home could learn basic computer skills and communicate with children in Canada and China online.

“Those kindergartners are now in second grade,” said Principal Juli Kwikkel, whose rural school serves a high population of students from Spanish-speaking migrant families. “Now that they have experience using computers, and have grown in their reading and writing skills, there can be deeper interactions with children around the world other than just ‘hi, I like pizza.’ They can share their writing and blog together. We can take it to the next level.”

Storm Lake won a 2013-2014 Keep the Dream Going Grant for its “Reaching More Corners of the World Through Technology” project that builds on the original project funded in 2011-2012.

This year, second graders will Skype with children in China, Canada and Africa; work together on projects using Chromebooks; collaborate on blogs; share videos they have produced, and continue building crucial technology skills.

My favorite use of the Chromebooks has been to put my small-group readers in a daily rotation for blogging. They have become so comfortable using the site that this is completely hands off for me. One student was struggling with how to change fonts and sizes today and another was able to troubleshoot that for me, so that I could continue teaching. Their independence is fantastic! A child just asked me today if she was allowed to blog again tonight. This has excited them as writers!”

–Melanie Langner, second grade teacher

With funding from Sharing the Dream, and another grant, “Reaching More Corners of the World Through Technology” has been implemented in every K-2nd grade classroom. Kwikkel’s ultimate goal is to expand the program to all grades, K-4th, providing a seamless progression of technology and global-focused learning for every Storm Lake Elementary graduate.

“We were humbled and grateful to receive the Keep the Dream Going Grant this year,” Kwikkel said. “We have a lot of challenges at our school but we also provide a lot of opportunities. We want to give all our students the same shot at learning.”

Langner added, “I can’t wait to see the continued changes this will make in my classroom! Transforming!”

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Sharing the Dream

Grants for pre-K-8 school projects that create global classrooms where children—and families—can safely connect, exchange ideas and learn together.

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