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4th graders study plants in collaboration with Pakistani students
Students from the US collaborate with Pakistani students to learn about a common interest! This project can be used by teachers of any grade level, can be shown to parents, can be a model for showing kids the possibilities of the medium. Besides what is shown, we have a relationship with a a teacher and some very friendly students in a part of the world that is torn by war. My students pay more attention to news when the hear the word Pakistan. They were particularly upset when Ms. Bhutto was killed in the explosion in Pakistan.
In exchanging information with the teacher in Pakistan, and working with the class in other projects, we decided to do a classroom-to-classroom project around science, specifically plants. This lead into the culmination of the plans project - a large salad party.
The goals included having students research a plant of interest, condense knowledge into a few minutes of vocal presentation, and also to draw the plant. Making the audio recording was the final part of the project.
Challenges or setbacks
The easiest part was getting the kids excited about learning about Pakistan. We took quite a bit of time establishing a relationship with this class in Karachi. The hardest part was just getting through all of the steps, that is, fitting into the hectic schedule found in most elementary schools. Kids were all at different stage of either planning, or working, or writing their parts to be recorded. or thinking about how they would contribute to the large celebratory salad.
Technology tools used were e-mail, Audacity, blogs, digital cameras, microphones, cell phones, kitchen implements, and general paper and coloring materials.
Mainly, as stated before, because of all the steps needed in a project like this, we learned that important projects take lots of time, and that okay - we are happy to take the time, to make the mistakes, to compromise, to invest ourselves in the discovery and the subsequent learning - we basically conduct ourselves in this manner most of the time, a project-based classroom.
The VoiceThread can be used as a model of class-to-classroom projects, of a view into a project-based classroom, and as an example of integrated teaching, lessons involving reading, writing, problem-solving, geography, science, and oral presentation.