School-Wide Immersion Project at The Willows Includes Cross-Cultural Collaboration
At The Willows Community School in Culver City, California, students recently participated in a week-long, cross-curricular program called “Intersession.” Now in its tenth year, the innovative program is designed to foster deep thinking and problem solving, while providing uninterrupted blocks of time for students to investigate a theme, problem or challenge from a new perspective. This year, the theme for Intersession was power.
Dean of Educational Technology Wendy Amster was on the look-out for a program that taps into this theme when she came across Level Up Village’s Global Web Designers course. She decided to pilot this course for 6th-8th grade students because it fit in directly with her curriculum and represented an opportunity to combine science and technology with the softer skills of communication and collaboration in a global context.
“It was almost like a web 2.0 collaboration, this generation’s version of pen pals, only with video exchange and website collaboration instead of handwritten letters,” said Wendy. “This course taught the students how powerful it can be to communicate with people who have different experiences from their own. Cross-cultural collaboration also develops empathy and understanding.”
To learn more about India, Wendy’s students took a deep dive into Indian culture with research on topics such as the country’s culture, economy and arts.
“Projects included a realistic fiction story, a handmade bamboo Bansuri, a website about Indian freedom fighters, a research project on India’s economy, and paintings inspired by Indian traditions, gods and fashion,” explained Wendy.
At several points during the week, students showcased what they learned by giving multimedia presentations to their classmates, providing them with an additional opportunity to strengthen communication skills and cement their learning.
“This research project, along with the web design collaboration, allowed students to bring together their interests in many subjects for an even deeper learning experience,” said Amster. “They developed a real appreciation for Indian culture, and at the same time they were interacting with their counterparts in Hyderabad.”