Elementary School Students Go ‘Global’ With Technology

Elementary students in Charlotte are going "global" with a technology initiative that links them to students from around the world.

Once a week, students at the Charlotte Jewish Day School meet with teacher Rachel Moore and connect with students in classrooms worldwide in a program from kindergarten to fifth grade aimed to connect with the wider world.

Through video and an online ePal program, they're able to discuss pressing issues, brainstorm solutions and delve into the lives of their counterparts, writes Caroline McMillan at the Charlotte Observer.

From studying weather with French peers to natural disasters with students in New Zealand, the classes are taught in more than half a million classrooms in more than 200 countries and territories across the world.

Bonds outside of subject areas also grow out of the scheme. One fifth-grade boy spoke about his friendship with another student he's never met:

"He likes to play soccer, just like me," he said.

"And he's talkative, too."

A 21st century classroom is an important goal for Principal Mariashi Groner. And the results of the global classroom has been greater than she expected.

"You'll read about global classrooms in middle schools and high schools, but at an elementary level it takes a different kind of tone.

"It really is special, and I believe it's going to get more impressive and detailed as (Moore) explores with the students."

The key for the program relies on an enthusiastic teacher, it seems. Moore has been at the school for almost a decade and Groner says that it's her leadership and willingness to format each class based on the students' interests that got her the role.

"Children today, they don't have a lot of power over what they're going to do," said Groner.

"They're over-programmed, they're told what to study, what to do. … In this classroom, (the students) really are in charge of their learning."

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