School-Wide Immersion Project at The Willows Includes Cross-Cultural Collaboration

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These two girls – one from The Willows Community School in Culver City, CA, and the other in Hyderabad, India – were partners for LUV’s Global Web Designers course.

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.

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As part of the Global Web Designers curriculum, Wendy’s students were paired one on one with partner students in Hyderabad. Together, they researched and created websites about alternative energy sources such as hydro, wind, solar and nuclear power.

For this project, LUV paired Wendy’s students with partners at Ekalavya School, which serves children living in the slums of Hyderabad, India. Wendy’s students and their partners studied global climate change and practiced using CSS, JavaScript and HTML. The final project was to to co-design websites using tools including Weebly that explore alternative power sources such as hydro, wind, solar and nuclear.

“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.”

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These students at Ekalavya School in Hyderabad followed the same curriculum for Global Web Designers and worked one on one with partners at The Willows School in Culver City, CA.

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.

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Projects included a website about Indian freedom fighters, a handmade bamboo Bansuri, a research paper about India’s economy and paintings inspired by Indian traditions, gods and fashion.

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.”

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Students presented their research to classmates to cement their learning and further develop their communication skills.