Opening Up Hearts & Minds at Blouberg Ridge Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa
By Paola Carnegie
When I was first introduced to Level Up Village (LUV), I was intrigued by the programme and thought it would be wonderful to team up with a school in another country. I was also interested in teaching my students how to code in a global classroom setting. When I shared the opportunity with my Grade 5-7 students, I received an overwhelming response! They were eager to participate, too!
STEAM Skills + Empathy
In my LUV Global Programming course, students have acquired a whole new set of computer skills. They are amazed that the opportunity to create with Scratch is endless and they can dream up all sorts of things without restrictions. Their collaboration with partner students in the USA has also opened their eyes and hearts and taught them to be more sensitive and empathetic. One of the best moments so far was when the first student watched his partner’s video. He jumped and shouted, “He said my name correctly the first time!” while grinning from ear to ear. And he’s not the only one. I see many smiles when my students are watching and replying to their partners’ videos. Now they are eagerly waiting to have to have a live video chat with their partners who go to school in Austin, Texas.
This course has also helped me grow as a teacher. Upon completing LUV’s Global Competency training, I was surprised by how far away we are as a school and a country in terms of knowing how to collaborate with people from other parts of the world. I have also discovered that teachers in the USA are very much like teachers here, even though our education systems differ in many ways. If I had not partnered with Level Up Village, I would have carried on thinking that my worldview was shared by everyone else!
Making an Impact
Overall, this course has provided a welcome, innovative way for me to supplement our curriculum and teach new STEAM skills to students. Implementing a Level Up Village course is hard work but it includes lots of good training and the enjoyment for the students is so worth it. It also gave me the chance to introduce an exciting new program to my school. My advice for other teachers is to go for it!