For the past five years, I’ve looked for ways to enrich my experience as a Math teacher at Dr. Pillai Global Academy (DPGA) in Mumbai, India. DPGA prides itself on being a “maximum opportunity” learning environment school, designed to impart education that empowers children to pursue a globally challenging career. The focus is on activity-oriented teaching and beyond-the-classroom methods. That’s why Level Up Village was perfect for us.
At OakHill Pilar school in Buenos Aries, Argentina, a Kindergarten group and a First Grade group are both participating in Level Up Village’s Global Storybooks Engineers course and having tons of fun! They’re reading each book with the help of Miss Mai and Miss Pipi. Each book leads to a project that stems from the story: they have worked hard to make spaghetti towers to help Strega Nona and Big Anthony, and then a shell cover to protect Jabuti the Tortoise. They also used the Engineering Design Cycle to build a boat to help poor Monkey avoid Crocodile and shared videos and pictures of their projects.
As this school year came to a close, I couldn’t help but be filled with joy at the positive experiences my students and I shared. Yes, they improved their writing skills, read wonderful books, conducted research, delivered presentations, took standardized tests, and all of the rest. And yes, all of that is worth celebrating. But what stood out the most, by far, were the moments that happened during our second Global Conversations literature course with The Anderson School in Gweru, Zimbabwe.
Thursday, June 1, started out as a typical day at Eastern Middle School. Students intently staring at iPhone screens before the bell; lots of wonderful books in hands throughout the day; kids tapping away on Chromebooks in well-lit and air conditioned classrooms. But then something extra special and different happened during the last period of the day. We were fortunate to have two visitors from Kenya Connect come to talk with a group of 32 students who are participating in their second Level Up Village global collaboration course this year, this time with students in Africa.
Level Up Village is expanding its global network with the addition of yet another international school partner: Schutz American School in Alexandria, Egypt. This school year, both seventh and eighth grade students at the school participated in Level Up Village’s Global Conversations: Malala Yousafzai course. The eighth graders collaborated with partner students at Springboard School in Pakistan while seventh graders were paired with partner students at Seacoast Charter School in Dover, New Hampshire.
Connecting with partners in developing countries is often an eye-opening and impactful experience for U.S. students, but what is it like for their global partners on the other end of the collaboration? Four students from rural Kenya wrote to us about their daily experiences with electricity, water, life at school, and how they have been inspired by their Level Up Village courses at Kenya Connect.
With so many new ideas and technologies to choose from, what are the big ideas educators should focus on for the 2016-17 school year? Here are my top five take-aways from ISTE 2016 both as an attendee and presenter:
Level Up Village’s newest literature course – Global Conversations: The Giver – prompted some interesting and thought-provoking dialogue between students at Eastern Middle School in Connecticut and their global partners in Kenya, Ghana, Jamaica and Argentina this spring on issues such as the role of government in people’s daily lives, discrimination, poverty and corruption.
Are you attending the ISTE conference this week in Denver, Colorado? If so, stop by the Global Learning Playground on Wednesday to find out how to create impactful global learning experiences for your students through Level Up Village programs.
At St. Mary’s School, an International Baccalaureate World School in Aliso Viejo, California, teachers are always looking for ways to broaden students’ global understanding. To that end, Heidi Galloway, Chair of the Literature and Language Department, recently offered Global Conversations to all four of her sections of sixth grade English. Her students read and discussed I am Malala with global partners in India and Uganda.
“It has been a fantastic experience. The partnership has elevated my students’ thinking and awareness. Their global partners are becoming real to them, real people, real friends,” said Galloway.