Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Connecting Globally: The Communities Standard in Elementary

"Bring the world to the child." 
 -Maria Montessori

From the World Readiness Standards, 2015: Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world. 

Communities. This is where the rubber really hits the road-interacting with actual humans that speak the language. For teachers in K-8 programs, this standard can present challenges in terms of opportunity and age appropriateness.  I'm fortunate to work in a Montessori environment where independence is fostered and celebrated, so we are able to travel with the middle schoolers(I'll elaborate on traveling with 13 year olds later), but in elementary, making the community connection is still an interesting challenge. This year I'm experimenting with some ways the children can connect and use Spanish outside of the classroom without, well, going outside of the classroom. 

The Peace Corps has a program to connect volunteers with schools, so my third graders are corresponding with a volunteer in Costa Rica. Thanks to technology, our volunteer has been able to email us photos and letters and we can do the same. Fortunately she's a Spanish speaker and it's given my students a chance to use Spanish for introductions and asking questions, and they've learned a thing or two about life in Costa Rica.  

In upper elementary, I'm using E-pals to connect with children my students' age in Spain and Nicaragua. We're using paper letter writing which has been a fun way for the children to exchange tokens such as coins, school photos and friendship bracelets, but are also exchanging sound recordings using Vocaroo/email.   The ripple effects are being felt in our school community and more classroom teachers are asking about how to participate in  project collaboration and pen pal connections in their classrooms, too! 

In what ways are you bringing the world to the children you teach?

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