As our Director of Summer Programs, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to expand and enrich our summer offerings. As preparations were made for our 2018 Summer Programs, a variety of different curricular options were explored. Level Up Village provided exemplary support and flexibility as we collaborated to determine how we could best adapt their standards based curriculums to further our Summer Programs mission.
For the past five years, I’ve looked for ways to enrich my experience as a Math teacher at Dr. Pillai Global Academy (DPGA) in Mumbai, India. DPGA prides itself on being a “maximum opportunity” learning environment school, designed to impart education that empowers children to pursue a globally challenging career. The focus is on activity-oriented teaching and beyond-the-classroom methods. That’s why Level Up Village was perfect for us.
Relationships and shared personal connections are a huge part of making learning fun, real and something that we remember long after a school year has ended. They are also great for developing empathy, broadening the mind to the experiences of others and cultivating a global mindset. The challenge for schools developing in countries like China is: How can we help students cultivate this global mindset and experience when nearly all of their classmates are from the same country and culture? Bringing teachers from around the world can go long way, but there’s something extra special about kids being able to connect with other kids and share with someone from a far-away land on their own level.
Level Up Village is taking the idea of the pen pal to the next level.
Its mission, “to globalize the classroom and facilitate seamless collaboration between students from around the world via pioneering Global STEAM enrichment courses,” came to life in our Lower and Middle School divisions this year, as students in PreK, third grade, and eighth grade made connections across continents. Through videos, email, and virtual chatting, Level Up Village participants create a global classroom that utilizes technology to connect students around the globe in collaborative projects.
“Hi, my name is Alice; I am from Ghana.” The sweet, soft voice of our first global partner video appeared on the big screen in our classroom. Shivers went down my spine as cheers erupted from my girls. Suddenly, the project became real. After weeks of preparing, thinking about it and discussing it, we finally had contact. For me, it was as exciting as seeing the Apollo landing as a very young toddler…suddenly, the whole world expanded and grew closer at the same moment.
In December, Mrs. Andrews’ fifth grade class at Mountain Brook Elementary School experienced a unique opportunity to speak to their partner classroom in Bogota, Colombia– LIVE! We had been waiting anxiously for weeks for this special moment, which culminated our eight-week Level Up Village Global Scientists course.
Earlier in February, Level Up Village invited its partner schools around the world to post a #GlobalEdSelfie to #SharetheLUV for global education. This was the second year LUV ran this campaign and the posts were outstanding! Thanks to all who participated and enjoy this selection of posts.
At OakHill Pilar school in Buenos Aries, Argentina, a Kindergarten group and a First Grade group are both participating in Level Up Village’s Global Storybooks Engineers course and having tons of fun! They’re reading each book with the help of Miss Mai and Miss Pipi. Each book leads to a project that stems from the story: they have worked hard to make spaghetti towers to help Strega Nona and Big Anthony, and then a shell cover to protect Jabuti the Tortoise. They also used the Engineering Design Cycle to build a boat to help poor Monkey avoid Crocodile and shared videos and pictures of their projects.
“That’s why my brother’s thumbs are so long!” The once silent room erupted with laughter. The students were engaged in creating a fictitious family based on particular genetic traits. One student had the revelation that his biological brother was not, in fact, an alien but that a dominant trait in his family’s lineage must have caused his brother to grow really long “alien” thumbs. This activity was part of Global Doctors: DNA, a Level Up Village (LUV) course I taught last spring at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Windsor, Connecticut.
As a former Hartford-area resident and current STEM nerd, I was very excited to attend the Annual Connecticut STEM Conference at The Connecticut Science Center last week together with Oletha Walker, who has taught several Level Up Village courses at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Windsor. Throughout the conference, STEM was discussed not merely as a collection of four subjects, but as a bridge to other disciplines with highly relevant, real-world applications. Here are my key takeaways from the conference: