Educators at several schools have applied for and received grants in order to run Level Up Village (LUV) courses, but we recently learned that for the first time, a LUV course was funded after a second grade student applied for a grant.
After hearing about Level Up Village about a year ago, Wendy Powers Teacher at Rooster Springs Elementary, a public school in Austin, Texas, became interested in bringing one of our global STEAM courses to her classroom.
“I loved the fact that they would be working with kids in another country to make a difference. I also loved that so many of the options matched topics I would have to cover in class and this seemed like a far more meaningful and interesting way to do it,” said Wendy.
However, she wasn’t sure how she was going to fund this experience, so she shelved the idea for a while. Then she thought of the Dripping Springs Education Foundation in her district, which started a program a few years ago to fund student leadership grants. The grants have to be written by a student leader and submitted by the teacher.
“I thought this could be the perfect way of funding Level Up Village,” said Wendy. “I approached one of my students that I felt would be a great leader. Colton was over the moon excited that I had asked him. I explained it was a big deal, not a guarantee and lots of work. He spent time going over the website, reading what is involved, how it works and the different courses. Then he started working on answering the questions. At different times for different questions, he would walk around with a clipboard and ask the class their thoughts and ideas and then was back to work.”
After she submitted Colton’s grant application, Wendy said she and her students kept their fingers crossed for two months.
“Finally, they surprised us at school. They called the whole class down to the office for a ‘delivery,’ which was really the presentation of the certificate that we had been funded.” said Wendy.
So far, her favorite part of teaching Global Explorer has been seeing how her students respond when receiving video letters from their partners.
“I love just watching their faces as they watch the videos from our partner class. They are so quiet and attentive as they listen and read the translation. As soon as the video is over they burst our talking and asking each other did they hear the answer to this question, or notice that the girl was wearing a My Little Pony shirt and they love my little pony, too,” said Wendy.
Her Level Up Village lessons are incorporated into the school day and directly support Texas state standards in science.
“We do our lessons on Wednesdays and they are always so excited for after lunch when we get to focus on Nicaragua. We have a huge wall calendar and as we change the month they all want to be the one who gets to add Nicaragua animals to the calendar,” said Wendy. “Right now they are learning a lot about how scientist classify animals and how they are grouped. In Texas our science skills require us to talk about animals, life cycles, and food chains. This topic goes perfectly with our curriculum but it takes them so much deeper and makes a real world connection for them so the learning becomes relevant.”
Wendy’s students and a group of children at NicaPhoto in Nagarote, Nicaragua, followed the same curriculum and collaborating together via LUV’s Global Communication platform. To learn more about Nicaragua, her students used Google maps to research some of the places their global partners said they would take them if they were to visit.
Another benefit has been the opportunity to further develop technology skills. She and her students had some experience with making screen videos for a class news report earlier in the year, but this course gave the chance to use those skills in a global context. The final project in Global Explorers is to make a green screen video that explores animals indigenous to their global partner’s country.
By bringing a Level Up Village to her school, Wendy hopes to encourage her colleagues to implement more global learning opportunities.
“I am the first in our school to do a project with kids in another country. We do Skype and connect in ways like that but nothing of this magnitude. I am hoping other will try it,” said Wendy. I also would love to see my class each year getting to participate in this program. I am going to continue to look for ways to get funding whether it is through the grant program again or another avenue.”
See this recent news about Level Up Village & NicaPhoto (the global partner organization paired with Wendy’s class for Global Explorers) in The Norwalk Hour.