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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Cutting Edge in the Tiffin City Schools

Shayla told us a few days ago that her class would be doing a teleconference event with a class in China. Shayne questioned her on how they were going to do that because he's been to China and they are 12 hours behind/ahead of us. Then with that puzzled look on her face she responded, "Maybe it's not China, but some other country." Indeed it was "some other country" - England, five hour time difference. With great excitement, Shayla told us about the experience on Monday. Imagine my excitement to see her happy face passing the ball on the front page of the newspaper yesterday morning! What a great surprise!

Here's the Advertiser Tribune's article and photo - by Jill Gosche, Education Editor Extraordinaire!

Teleconferencing gave students in Tiffin an opportunity to talk to students in London Monday and see how diverse learning experiences can be. They also saw how similar their experiences are.

Kathy Mohr, director of technology for North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, said when students talked about math and science lessons, she found they were learning a lot of the same things.

"We all like McDonald's, too," she said.

Monday morning, fifth-graders in Paula Perna's class at Clinton Elementary School connected, by way of video-conferencing, with Paul Greenwood's class at Northwood Primary School in London. The London children were 9, 10 and 11 years old.

Clinton students could see the London students on a screen at the front of the class.

A small box in the corner showed them the view the London children would have of the Tiffin classroom.

Mohr, who led Monday's discussion, coordinates video conferencing opportunities for area teachers and estimated she leads several teleconferences per week.

Monday's session, which lasted about 50 minutes, was not the first time she has initiated an international connection.

"I'm really pleased with how it all did come out today," she said.

Mohr said Greenwood found her name on a distribution list where teachers collaborate on video conferencing opportunities. He asked her if she would find a class in the U.S. that would connect with him.

Originally, the classes were to discuss President Barack Obama, but the class had moved on to other topics. The classes briefly discussed the president before having a more relaxed conversation about the schools and what students are doing in Ohio, Mohr said.

Clinton students heard Northwood students sing a song in Spanish and explain how their school day lasts six hours. The children discussed musical instruments they play, sports and their favorite television programs.

One Clinton fifth-grader, wearing a New York shirt, asked whether any of the Northwood students had been to America. One Northwood student was born in New York.

The uniform-wearing children in London taught the children in Tiffin a game that involves children passing a ball over their heads and between their legs. Greenwood suggested they have a trans-Atlantic race, so Perna located a red ball.

Five Clinton students participated in the contest, and the Northwood students barely won.

Mohr said the teleconference wasn't a structured activity so it gave students an opportunity to ask questions about what it is like to live in their respective areas and discuss things they have in common and the differences about where they live.

"It was a very good exchange," she said.

After's Monday teleconference, Mohr received an e-mail from Greenwood. He would like to connect with the Tiffin class again. The two discussed potential activities and she said it sounds like the two classes will continue their connection.

Students in Greenwood's class are writing an essay to send to Obama to see whether he will participate in a video conference with them, and Greenwood invited the Tiffin class to participate if he can make the arrangements.

Mohr said she is not sure whether it is a possibility.

"We'll see," she said.


At 13/1/10 11:08 PM, Blogger brooke said...

hi angela -
my phd research is actually with teachers and integrating technology into their classrooms. shayla's experience is one of the coolest technology integration experiences i've read about thus far. thanks for sharing!

At 14/1/10 5:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How exciting! Education at it's best! What a fun way for the children to learn about and to interact with students in another country. Leave it to Shayla to be the star, getting her photo in the newspaper! Go Shay, go!!!

At 14/1/10 11:31 AM, Blogger Leah said...

What a wonderful idea! It's so good to give students knowledge of other countries and cultures at a such a young age. And cute that Shayla originally thought China.


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