What Classroom Walls?

As a continuation of my effort to share what teachers are doing in schools, the following post was written by a fifth grade teacher in my school district. Mrs. Jill Boreman teachers at Newberry Elementary School in the West Shore School District and consistently makes an effort to use technology to implement and enhance the curriculum. Please provide any feedback for her or her students. Thanks for reading and here is her post…

“Technology intrigues and motivates today’s student.” Jill Boreman, a teacher in the WSSD in Etters, PA, is also intrigued and motivated to use technology to assist her 5th graders in gaining more knowledge. One of her new students this 2010-2011 school year moved in from a private school in the Philippines after living there for the past four years. This was the first U.S. public school experience he had, and he was a little overwhelmed with a new culture as well as the typical “new kid” feelings. She asked him if he would like to put together a presentation about his former home, culture, school, geography, and climate. His presentation (created with Dad’s help) served as a wealth of information about a foreign land to all of Newberry Elementary’s 5th graders. Not only that, but his YouTube video and PowerPoint game format (complete with pictures of scorpions and geckos and peso prizes for correct answers) started the building blocks for relationships with his new friends.

Knowing that he was still missing his classmates and school in the Philippines, Mrs. Boreman contacted the teacher he would have had for 5th grade to inquire about a Skype session between their two schools. Knowing there was a time difference of 13 hours, she arranged for a special night for the U.S. students to come back to school at 7:30pm on Monday, November 15th to do their video chat with students halfway around the world which was 8:30am on Tuesday, November 16th (another teachable moment – time zones!)

The 5th graders prepared for their Skype in many different ways. First, they “traveled” to Manila by looking up their partners’ school with Google Earth. They found out they play soccer and they have a covered playground for when it rains. They wrote out and voted on questions they would like to ask the Philippines school to gain more information that they hadn’t known already like: what their school day was like, what their favorite sports are to play, and do they have Pokemon? They also discussed the Philippines school’s questions they were going to answer on the chat night, including what their favorite Hershey candy is, what types of after school activities they have, and what are their most talked about movies and books.

The video chat was so exciting – Mrs. Boreman’s room was filled with students, parents, and siblings! Here were students from different sides of the world getting together to learn how different (and similar) they are. They found out the same movies, video games and sports are played in both places.  They heard no matter where in the world students are, they enjoy their holiday breaks. There were many details to show  how truly unique their cultures are. PA enjoyed dried mango while the Philippines devoured their Hershey’s kisses!

Mrs. Boreman’s class will continue its connection with their partner school in the Phillipines by creating a collaborative wiki page where the classes will connect about a book they are both reading. Students in her class here in the U.S. will begin writing the opening paragraph of a story, Manila will write the second, her students will add the third, etc. until they’ve created a story together!

The educational value of the experience was fantastic, but even more priceless was the excitement her students had while learning with the technology Mrs. Boreman considers herself lucky enough to have at her disposal. “Technology intrigues and motivates today’s student.”

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One response to “What Classroom Walls?

  1. This gave me chills. This is exactly how teachers should be using technology- to benefit and teach their students AND to let students think outside of their bubble! What great activities! I’m sure everyone- teachers, students, parents- learned something new with this experience! Great job Mrs. Boreman!

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