Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Day the "World" Came to My School

"Everybody" assumes if you are the "computer" teacher all you do is teach "geeky" and "tekkie" things. Right?

Ummm...not quite. Let me explain. I'm a TEACHER that teaches with "technology" in order to "communicate".

Last Friday, students, parents, teachers, EA's, and young siblings from Walter Murray Collegiate's ESL (English as a Second Language) classes - about 70 of them - came on two school busses to Hafford to have a visit with my grade 6, 7, and 8 social studies students. We had a video scavenger hunt (9 groups, 1 video capable digital camera, videoing 3 places - one in the school, one on the playground, and one "downtown" ) and then went to Redberry Lake park for an incredible international potluck lunch and wienie roast, games in the rosebowl, walking around, playing, and visiting. (Soccer and eating really are international languages!) It was a WONDERFUL day.

How incredibly..."geekie?"

This adventure all started quite a few years ago and has its genesis in the Educational Communications master's program at the University of Saskatchewan. Koreen Geres and I are both graduates, but knew each other because of mutual friends in the program. One Showcase 2008 convention day, after meeting up in a Dean Shareski session, Koreen, an ESL teacher at Walter Murray, and I had lunch. She was working on a doctorate concerning problems encountered by refugee youth, and I was a grade five and six ELA teacher, teaching a novel study on social issues. Wouldn't it be cool, we thought, if somehow our students could communicate with each other. I should also mention, that my school, Hafford Central, is a UNESCO ASPnet school. I'm always looking for ways to integrate learning about international cooperating and understanding into my classes.

Two years passed, and we met again. I was teaching the same novel study and we discussed again how our students could communicate. Koreen decided she could arrange for her students to visit Hafford, and sent email addresses so my grade six, seven and eight social studies students could begin emailing each other. My students emailed to 6-10 of her students who felt comfortable enough writing in English. This was great as my students were looking for their epal buddies when the visit began.

Technology is a tool that allows us to communicate. I'd say that we did a lot of communicating and had a heck of a lot of fun that was possible in part because of the technology available. The day worked because of all the INCREDIBLE people involved especially the Hafford and Walther Murray students!