By Amanda Spurling, 3rd Grade Teacher, Fayetteville School in Talladega County, Alabama
Education has seen major shifts in the past decade. Rather than providing students all the information they need to learn, teachers now take on more of a facilitator role, guiding students to think and locate information they need for themselves. Moreover, the careers that students are being prepared to enter are changing. As educators, we are challenged to prepare students for careers in a global economy by providing engaging and authentic lessons that tap into important 21st Century skills. One way my school district is tackling this challenge is by partnering with Level Up Village (LUV).
Learning how to communicate and collaborate with peers from diverse cultures is an essential skill for the 21st Century classroom and will help prepare students to enter the global workforce with confidence. Global competency is fundamental to our work at Level Up Village, and this school year we’re even more focused on helping teachers develop a better understanding of what it is and how to help their students become global citizens who communicate respectfully and interact productively with partner students across the world through our global STEAM courses.
From the moment Jody Swanigan, Principal of East Cooper Montessori Charter School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, heard about Level Up Village (LUV), she was determined to bring LUV programs to her school.
“What first drew me in was the emphasis on STEM,” said Jody. But after checking out the global STEAM courses offered by Level Up Village and watching some videos on the website, she saw the connection between LUV’s “Take a Class, Give a Class” model and Montessori education.
When I joined Gayaza High School in 2016, I was relatively quiet until third term when I was enrolled in the “I am Malala” class. I was so fascinated with Malala’s courage to fight for what nearly got her killed. It was at that moment I asked myself what I believe in and what is worth fighting for.
“Level Up Village has allowed our students to branch outside the walls of Lincoln Elementary School into a global setting where they are solving real world problems,” said Shannon Hill, Instructional Partner at Lincoln Elementary. “Through the use of one to one video message exchanges with their assigned global partner, our students learned about different cultures, causing them to connect both physically and emotionally to this project. It amazes me to see 3rd grade students rise up to the challenge by designing fully functional solar powered flashlights through digital software and 3D printing.”
Last spring, we began our Level Up Village (LUV) partnership with students at Nicaphoto in Nicaragua. Through LUV’s Global Storybook Engineers course, we worked on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) activities, combining literacy with engineering challenges.
First, we read the story Strega Nona, set in Calabria, a region in southern Italy which forms the “toe” of the boot. The problem in the story is that the town is about to be flooded by pasta! Our first design challenge was to IMAGINE what if Big Anthony caused the pasta to overflow again. How could we save the town? Then we made a PLAN. We pretended that we were architects and tried to design a tower that would stand tall and not fall down using marshmallows, spaghetti, masking tape, and string.
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.
A growing number of tech-forward schools are integrating global collaboration into their STEM programs by partnering with Level Up Village. A great example of this is Kepner Beacon Middle School, an innovative new school within the Denver Public School district.
By Nimi Yogaratnam, parent at St. Mary’s IB School
What a truly rewarding experience to visit the Eklavya Future school in Hyderabad.This was certainly the highlight of my trip to India. I am so glad that I was able to visit the school. Ravikanth Ganti (Superintendent) and Asiya Begum (Head Mistress) were gracious hosts and showed me around the school.
This spring, Level Up Village was the first organization to be awarded the Seal of Alignment for Proficiency for ISTE’s 2016 standards for students. That’s an impressive mouthful, but what does that mean exactly? The ISTE Seal of Alignment is designed to give educators and school leaders direct access to the best resources to help their students develop as global citizens in a digital world. There are three levels: Readiness, Proficiency and Mastery. Proficiency is awarded “for resources that offer a flexible implementation plan and provide opportunities to practice the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the ISTE Standards.”