Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Being Remarkable! Global Collaboration

Continuing my reflection on the learning that has happened this year, I would like to share a story on how one teacher found an opportunity to collaborate globally and gave her students a great learning experience.

Over winter break, Valley View 8th Grade Social Studies and French Immersion teacher, Irmgard Farah visited Costa Rica. While there, she took a trip to the the Children's Eternal Rainforest in Monteverde. While there, she learned of the "Friends of the Rainforest" project and how classrooms around the world had donated to help with land purchase, land protection, educational programs and guided travel opportunities.

On her way home, Irmgard wondered if her students would be interested participating in a fundraising project for the rainforest. She thought it would also be a great opportunity to incorporate service learning strategies for her students, and thought it would also tie nicely to her curriculum if she could make a connection with another French speaking classroom. She contacted me, and I helped her get Skype set up and tested on her computer and we developed a plan to put the project in motion. 

Wendy Brenes, the Information and Ecotourism Coordinator for the Rainforest offered to Skype with the students to show them what they would be raising funds for. Given that we were in the same time zone, Brenes was able to talk to each of Farah's classes. 

Student's in Irmgard Farah's French Immersion Social Studies class speaking with Swiss Educator, Denise Brockman
Then Irmgard connected with Denise Brockman, a teacher in Geneva, Switzerland, whose students had raised funds for the rainforest in Monteverde. Due to the time change, her students had to walk over to her house after school to be able to Skype with the students here in Edina, but many did, and provided great information and motivation for Farah's students.

In the end, students in Farah's classes raised $1,322.64 for the rain forest!

Farah believes that the the collaborative aspect played a big role in the success of the project. I see this as a great authentic learning opportunity for her students, and an example of meeting the mission of our district, helping our students "to thrive in a rapidly changing, culturally diverse, global society."

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