I just watched a presentation titled “Travel through Space and Time“, part of the K12 Online Conference, which is just underway. It provides a detailed example of how to connect two teachers traveling to China with a school of students of widely varying ages in Florida. Perhaps most compelling is the high production quality of the presentation, which provides a vivid picture into the vast quantity of material the teachers sent back to the States, the curricular connections established back at school, and the technical tools the teachers used to set up the experience. I wasn’t just hearing about this trip. I was able to really get a feel for how well it worked from the pictures and video that the presenter shared.
One key benefit of their model is the high degree of curricular connection between the trip and the school. Activities such as excavating a model statue and making silk panels for the celebration dragon provide concrete examples of how to connect international experience with core curriculum. Teachers blogged from China, and students asked questions and posted comments from the States. To be considered successful, a modern global ed program must impact the school’s core curriculum.
This provides a promising model for two trips we have planned for this year. Middle School teacher Spencer is going solo on an exploratory trip to Guatemala to determine whether a remote village could host a student trip in the future. He will take a MacBook with integrated camera, Skype, and a video camera, with the hope of engaging students at school with live video chat and other content. The second is our annual student trip to Costa Rica, where Spencer and another teacher will take a group of students to get to know the culture and engage in service learning experiences. Planning for this project, we continue to explore the spaces between ensuring an authentic foreign experience for the kids and encouraging their reflection and interaction with others by sharing their experiences and communicating with the school. Last year, David podcast a few reports from Costa Rica by phone. This year, Spencer is hoping to take the next step by equipping the students with digital voice recorders.