Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update from Alison's First Grade

   Alison has been a part of the Literacy and Technology Team for 3 years.  During that time, she has been instrumental in piloting technology at the elementary level.  Following is her account of her experience with Sinarmas so far.  Congratulations Alison and thank you for all you do.

     I was very excited and honored that I was asked to partner up with Sinarmas School Academy in Jakarta, Indonesia this fall as part of a literacy and technology piece with Darlene.  I began planning what I thought would be great areas for the kids to cover… weather, plants, goods, and services… with a focus on how we are alike and how we are different.   
     My goal was that in learning about SSA, the students would also discover that we are more alike than we are different… even though we live on opposite sides of the earth!  We got a “hello” book together to send to the first grade class we were working with.  It was modeled after Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle.  We titled it Winthrop, Winthrop, What Can Be Found?  The students had taken a field trip around our neighborhood and through the school snapping pictures on the digital camera… they are just so at ease working with this kind of equipment… there was not much to it!  We came up with an alphabet idea and decided to pick out the things that we could use in the book to go with each letter.  We then typed the words in Max Write… making sure to highlight and change the colors representing each letter… (And yes they did this on their own!)  We put it all together, sent it along, and waited to see what we would get back from our new friends!
      We received a video that the students in Jakarta had made.  It told us their names, ages, favorite food and what they did on the weekend!  Oh the JOY!  (Now this is where my ideas, and what happen, totally take a different path).  The conversations that we had during the video were so enlightening for me as a teacher… (How many years had I been doing this?).  The kids talked about celebrations, how they eat, whether they use the same sauce on spaghetti as we do, and what some of the things were that they said they did… like “squishies”.  The higher-level thinking that was going on while we discussed the video was amazing.  Learning how to question and how to format a question was not as easy as one might think… but because it was an authentic task and their was an audience, the kids worked incredible hard and didn’t even realize it… they were having so much FUN!  We took the video and the technology specialist, Kim Morin, sat with the kids while they created a voice thread around the content of the video.  Now the kids in Jakarta could actually just add a note to the video and all the questions could be answered! 
     We received another video about planting rice, catching fish and washing buffalo, which really excited us and got us curious about what we should share with them.  Well, we think we will create a Comic Life book using video and pictures from spring, summer, winter and fall in Winthrop.  We are having a great time and the learning is unmatched!  

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