by Kristie Burk
We all know that teachers in Downingtown Area School District are doing amazing things with technology to help their students to think beyond their local community. One example is Beth Buglio, DASD’s Japanese teacher, who has partnered with Kizuna Across Cultures , an online language and cultural exchange program, to make Japanese come alive for her students.
With support from the staff at Kizuna Across Cultures, Ms. Buglio has her Japanese students at Downingtown East and West enrolled in a Schoology class with students from a school in Japan. Every week, the students communicate with their peers in Japan by writing discussion posts, sharing pictures, and responding to one another in both English and Japanese. Once a month, the students or the teachers will pick a new topic to discuss. The students have really grown to know one another; in October, the students even did a small gift exchange with each other.
Ms. Buglio is very pleased with the results of the communication among the students. She says, “It has brought a reality to their communication. There is a real reason for learning the language. It’s no longer just a subject to them, but a necessary way for them to share their ideas and to talk with each other.”
Ms. Buglio admits that the experiment is not without its difficulties. For example, the American students struggled with communicating the idea of diversity to their Japanese peers who did not have a similar word for the concept. However, Ms. Buglio says it was a great learning experience for the students as they talked about culture.
Although Ms. Buglio received help from Kizuna Across Cultures, other teachers can replicate the idea in their own classroom on their own. For example, Mr. Spiers, Engineering teacher at Downingtown West, posted a message on Schoology looking for international classrooms to collaborate on an engineering project and has already received some responses.
Would you like to get connected with another classroom outside the district? Let me know and I (or one of your tech coaches) will help you get started!
Are you doing something cool with technology in your classroom that you would like to share with others? Let us know at email@example.com.