Mark Engstrom, the Assistant Principal and Middle School Geography teacher at the American School of São Paulo, Brazil, and his collaboration partner, Laurie Clement, a MS teacher in Windsor, Canada, have put together various projects to connect middle school geography students from around the world and to facilitate collaboration among them. This past school year, students from Brazil worked together with students from Canada, USA and Sweden. They are expanding this opportunity to more schools and countries.
Take a look at the outline of the project below and get directly in contact with one of the Program Coordinators:
Laurie Clement St. Rose Catholic School Windsor, Canada firstname.lastname@example.org
Purpose: To facilitate student growth within a global environment. Students will have the ability to acquire skills in research, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership while fostering partnerships with peers around the globe.
Last year middle school students from Brazil, the U.S., Sweden, and Canada connected to work on projects that require many Modern Learning Skills:
Creativity and Innovation Students generate and extend ideas, suggest hypotheses, use their imagination and look for innovative ways to present their ideas. In the Utopia Project, students create what they believe a Utopian country would look like. They work together to determine the history of their country, the physical characteristics of their land and how that would impact their economic security. In their groups, they also collaborate on social and political issues such as the education system as well as what type of government will run their country.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Students are encouraged to use knowledge, facts and data to effectively problem solve. They learn that thinking through an issue, assessing problems and looking for multiple solutions is more important than identifying an immediate answer to a problem. While studying land disputes, students will investigate the land in question, the causes of the dispute as well as what negotiation strategies have been used to attempt to solve this conflict. As a group they will also evaluate the current geopolitical situation and discuss possible resolutions. Groups will then select images and visual representations to accurately portray the struggles that have occurred as a result of that particular piece of land.
Communication and Collaboration
Technology has transformed the way we communicate in the classroom. It has allowed us to step beyond our classroom walls and collaborate with students across the globe. In these projects students communicate and collaborate with their international peers throughout the learning process. For example, in the Five Most Pressing Problems on the Planet project, the first task is for students to survey people in their lives/community in order to determine which global issues they think are the most “pressing”. After this communication, students collaborate around which issues their group will focus on.
Empathy and Global Stewardship
The Internet along with the various forms of social media used on a consistent basis by our students has provided them with instant and consistent access to global issues. As a result, it is more important than ever to educate our students on what it means to become a global citizen. Our projects have been designed to provide students the opportunity to explore global issues and increase their awareness of social, environmental, political and health concerns that are present in our world today.
Curiosity and Imagination
Students will have the freedom to explore, negotiate and make choices. They will be empowered to take ownership of their learning and become active participants within their groups. Each of the projects have been designed to provide a significant amount of choice within a well structured environment.
Students will analyze and evaluate a wide variety of sources in order to determine what information is valuable. In addition, students determine the best platform with which to share out their final product.
The 2013-2014 projects will be:
1st Quarter (September 16-October 4) The 5 Most Pressing Problems on the Planet – from Origins to Solutions
2nd Quarter (November 11-25) Utopia Project – an Adventure in the Ideal
3rd Quarter (February 10-21) This Land is My Land! – an Image Gallery of Geopolitics
4th Quarter- (April dates TBA) Sustainable Development- Reality or a Misnomer? Project – an International Debate
Side note: These are probably best done not as whole class projects, but rather for those students who could use enrichment or a non-traditional learning experience. Each project runs for two weeks and there is a rubric for the grading of each one.
“This project is excellent. Children are collaboration each other and try to learn more. Also this project is also helping to bring children from different country different society and discuss the issues.” – Sujit Biswas
“I think this was a great experience for my daughter. She has never done anything like this before where you work with people from another country. She really seemed interested in it and was happy to be a part of it. However with all the projects and tests, piling up at the end of the quarter, she did at times get a little frustrated, but overall I think she really enjoyed it and would be glad if she can do it again!” -Hiroko Kawahara
“The Five Most Pressing Problems project was my favorite project this year. I liked working in groups with students around the world and getting to talk about real life problems. I learned a lot from my partners by talking about which problems we thought were the most important. To help my group in ranking the issues, I created a survey that was completed through multiple forms of social media. I received responses from over 600 people in over 20 countries. I think that I’m more aware of global issues now that I have learned so much from the project”. – Carly Jacobs
* Read more about Carly’s experience in this article featured in her local newspaper, The Windsor Star.Partners in 2012-2013:Houston, U.S.A.Nehemiah Middle SchoolWindsor, CanadaSt. RoseSao Paulo, BrazilGraded School- The American School of Sao PauloKarlstad, SwedenInternationella Engelska Skolan
Partners in 2013-2014Atlanta, U.S.A.Atlanta International SchoolEsigodini, ZimbabweFalcon CollegeNew York, U.S.A.Avenues SchoolBelgrade, SerbiaInternational School of BelgradeCampinas, BrazilEscola Americana de CampinasAstana, KazakhstanInternational School of AstanaChicago, U.S.A.Round Lake Middle School
Other Potential Partners for 2013-2014:
Delaware, U.S.A., Lusaka, Singapore, The Hague, Sydney, Cairo, Zagreb, Melbourne, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Meknes, Morocco, Settat, Morocco, Karachi, Teaneck, New Jersey, Kuwait, Zurich, Managua, Caracas, Brussels, Piedmont, OK, U.S.A., Jakarta, Macao, Prague, Doha, Dubai, Lisbon