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.
A little more than a decade ago, Thomas Friedman introduced us all to the idea that The World is Flat. The rise of the Internet in all corners of the world has brought everyone closer together than ever before and created incredible opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration. However, this same hyper-connectivity comes with an ugly underbelly.
Kids these days are eager to make a difference in the world. Educators can tap into this marvelous impulse by providing real-world learning opportunities in the science classroom. This fall, The Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD) offered Global Scientists to fifth grade students in order to introduce students to water chemistry and the global water crisis. To make it even more interesting, students were connected virtually with partners in Uganda. Here are four strategies ESD used to create an impactful, real-world learning experience with Global Scientists:
Guest post by Nathan Lutz, Global Learning Coordinator at Kent Place School
In my role of Global Learning Coordinator, I am constantly seeking ways for our students to have global experiences. Girls in the Middle School and Upper School at Kent Place School have many opportunities for global engagement, including several options for trips. Our Primary School students, however, don’t have as many opportunities. Our World Language classes have sister classes with which they correspond via letter or Skype, but I feel like we can always do more. After all, technology has given us new opportunities for communicating with people all over the world.
When introduced to Level Up Village (LUV), I knew that by we would have new opportunities that would excite our students about meeting other children from around the world.
Guest post by Margaret Ann Minihan at Louise S. McGehee School
At Louise S. McGehee School, an all-girls school in New Orleans, Louisiana, we know about teaching girls. Research tells us that girls learn differently and are motivated differently than male students. Girls learn best through hands-on activities that give them the opportunity to help others and make a difference in the world. In light of this research, McGehee offers its students several service learning opportunities in the regular curriculum.
This year, we’re trying a new program that is further inspiring our girls’ passion for STEAM (STEM + arts). Our students are learning hands-on Science and Engineering skills, while collaborating one-on-one with partners in developing countries. This innovative program, provided by Level Up Village (LUV), is a welcome addition to our afterschool enrichment program.
Guest post by Caroline Chamberlain at Delbarton School
Today’s classes were very excited to see they had videos from their global partners waiting for them. One young man announced, “I am so cool!” The classes are starting to get the hang of using SketchUp to create items in 3D. But as amazing as that is, they are all much more interested in their video mail!
Are you looking for a way to jazz up the STEAM (STEM + arts) programming at your school? Try combining hands-on STEAM with authentic global learning. Level Up Village partners U.S. students one-on-one with peers in the developing world for meaningful cultural exchange and collaboration on STEAM projects. Students communicate with their global partners each class period via video message exchange to share their findings, learn about each other’s lives and collaborate on real-life applications of their learning.
We know STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) is important, but how do we make these subjects accessible and approachable for children? Starting early may be the key. Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t wait to introduce STEAM:
“What IS this?” exclaimed Grace. Her eyes widened behind her goggles at she leaned closer to her snake specimen to get a better look. In the middle of the dissection, she had discovered what seemed to be several more little snakes, all coiled up in the abdomen. The other girls clustered around to see.
“First we thought the snake had possibly eaten another snake, but we kept looking and found more and more,” said Jennifer Beck, a teacher at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas. “We weren’t expecting a pregnant one, so we had to do a lot of Internet research, and we learned not all snakes lay eggs. Some carry their young.”
The girls were participating in Level Up Village’s Global Doctors – Anatomy as part of “DASH into Summer,” a summer enrichment program run by Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart.
At Delbarton, an all-boys Benedictine School in Morristown, New Jersey, we have been looking for global connections, but struggled with the logistics involved in this kind of collaboration. We decided to pair our 8th grade science students with an all-girl’s school, and see what happens. So far, the results have been amazing.
Our 8th graders sent video introductions to an all-girls school in Uganda yesterday. Let us just let the reality of that settle in for a moment.