Archive for the 'Global Pen Pals' Category

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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Global Resources for Schools: Edmodo.com

edmodo imageExchanging letters through the mail used to be the only feasible way for students to communicate with children in other countries–a process that might provide a couple of exchanges a year given the distance letters had to travel.

Now, with Edmodo.com, an award-winning, safe social learning network with more than 17 million users worldwide, making those connections is a lot easier.

Susan Christy, 8th grade history department head at Florence Middle School, in Florence, Alabama, uses Edmodo as a vital component of her 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream project, Adventures Through Global Weather.

“With Edmodo we can reach out to other schools to interact about weather all over the world. It’s a fabulous tool,” Christy said.

Christy’s students are making a video about weather in Alabama, which will be posted to Edmodo. Children around the world will be able to view the film and share about their own weather, giving insight into how weather effects agriculture, housing, clothing, and customs around the globe.

While many teachers use Edmodo to make international contacts, others use the platform to connect with parents right in the neighborhood.

In Springdale, Arkansas, parents who immigrated to the United States from the Marshall Islands, use Edmodo to network with teachers and other parents, to practice English language skills, and to share thoughts about what their children are learning in school.

The exchange is part of Monitor Elementary’s Family Literacy Project, expanded this year with a 2013-2014 Sharing the Dream-Keep the Dream Going Grant to include Hispanic parents.

“We set up a blog for Marshallese parents to reflect on their experiences and learning in the classrooms with their children, and it was very successful,” ESL specialist Julia Crane said. “Parents really enjoyed using iPads to create presentations about themselves, and to post their reflections. We will be training our parents to set up their own blogs to be a voice for Marshallese and Latino parents in the community.”

Do you use Edmodo in your classroom, school or district? What features do you use? Have you used Edmodo to reach out to classrooms in other countries? Would you recommend it to other educators? Tell us about your experiences in a comment.

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Global Resources for Schools is our feature highlighting international focused organizations, educational websites and resources to support educators in their efforts to create globally oriented schools.

Do you have a website, organization, resource or idea to share? Contact us!

From North Dakota to Norway: Making Friends Around the World

Flags from a school parade in Norway

Flags from a school parade in Norway

At Century Elementary in Grand Forks, North Dakota, 4th graders used Netbooks to collaborate on a blog with Norwegian students, posting articles, photos and comments about school and family life.

“Students were eager to post on the blog and viewed it at home, sharing it with their parents,” principal Cindy Cochran said. During the last week of school, children from Grand Forks and Norway met face-to-face on Skype. “They were anxiously counting down the days, knowing they were going to see their new friends from Norway and hear them speak.”

Century students also used the Netbooks to write and illustrate books on oceans, space, animals and other topics for children in Uganda through E-luminate.org, which engages schools in creating nonfiction educational materials for children around the world.

“Students worked for hours on their books, and voluntarily asked other students to edit their work,” Cochran said.

Century’s Global Communications: An International Learning Community project was funded by a 2012-2013 Sharing the Dream Grant.

Global Resources for Schools: Kenya Connect

Kenya Connect logoThe mission of Kenya Connect is to connect youth globally through correspondence and service for the purpose of promoting deep cultural exchange and understanding.

Their Pen Pal Exchange makes it possible for students to write to school children in Kenya. Fifty-three schools in Kenya are currently part of the program.

Students at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary in Silver Spring, MD, a 2011-2012 Sharing the Dream school, learned about the culture of Kenya by making friends with children who lived there. Partnering with Kenya Connect, the school organized a pen pal program for 2nd—5th graders to exchange letters with children attending Ndeini Primary School in Wamunyu, Kenya.

When children learned that their Kenyan friends kicked around playground balls made of plastic bags, they raised $400 to buy sports equipment for the school. Principal Gail Scott-Parizer used the Dream grant to engage an artist-in-residence who led workshops on traditional Kanga fabric, cuisine, games, and family life in Kenya, and students gained insight into “how similar the lives of those in other cultures are to our own.” Year-end events included an International Night featuring Kenyan songs and dances, and a field trip to the Smithsonian African Art Museum.

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Global Resources for Schools is our regular feature highlighting international focused organizations, educational websites and resources to support educators in their efforts to create globally oriented schools.

Do you have a website, organization, resource or idea to share? Tell us about it in a comment.


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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