New teaching technologies and educational opportunities that we are having in schools nowadays help us to widen the borders of the textbooks and provide our students with very interesting opportunities of communicating with their coevals from the English-speaking countries all over the world. One of these opportunities is an interactive program “Global Classroom” which is a research based, international, interdisciplinary, interactive website providing a cross cultural and heterogeneous mix of students the opportunity to immerse themselves in reading, research, rhetoric and writing in the disciplines of World Geography and World Literature.
The author of the Global classroom program is a teacher of World History and Geography Mr. Mike Bailey an educator from Belfast High School, Maine, USA, with whom
I got acquainted in Cambridge, UK, where we both were taking part in the seminar in Cold War period. He told me a lot about his school, students and finally invited my students and me to take part in the program.
Each region is evaluated on specific criteria which connect to the Unit Question. They are designed to provoke analysis of key areas pertaining to the Unit Question and are the building blocks of the Unit Essay.
Geography Topography, water, natural resources, boundaries History Conflicts, Governments, Leaders, Current Events Culture Conflicts, Governments, Leaders, Current Events
In the study of each region a selection of 4 – 5 short stories or poems, written by celebrated authors from the region, are read. Literal and Interpretive questions are provided for class discussion. Synthesis questions are provided to connect the central theme of the story with the regional question.
In our first introductory unit last school year we had the opportunity to share with the Classroom our understanding of our own republic, town and gymnasium. We discussed home, and family, and developed the skills of description and analysis.
We dealt with national and global regions and issues. In each of the discussions throughout the year we studied geography, climate, history, culture and economy of a region of the world and discussed how these different topics played a role in the region’s prosperity or challenges for the future. Through the rest of the year we had been thinking globally.
I think that participating in this cross-cultural exchange my students have been able to make deeper connections with the literature and develop a better understanding of the geographical areas they study – all through their communication with teens who live there and hone their language skills. And what is more important the experience allowed all students to knock down the walls of the traditional classrooms and physical locations to challenge the stereotypes and preconceived notions they had about each other.
What Made Me Start Thinking of TV conferences …
The level of the development of technology in our town made me start thinking of how to make the process of the students’ communication more interesting. And finally Mike and I decided to try to have a video conference. As the works by the national poet of Dagestan Rasul Gamzatov are in the curriculum of the Global Classroom I decided to present his life and creative activities to our American friends. On March 6, 2008 this action took place.
If I say that it was a miracle, I’ll be only partially right- it was a sensation of the week. First of all it was a shock to my students to see the American teacher, his students on the screen, to hear their voices. But gradually the students came to themselves and the show began. Of course there were some problems – the sound could disappear just at the necessary moment, the picture became a blur or got frozen. But these trifles weren’t not even reckoned with, because the main goal had been achieved. It was a breakthrough!
What a wonderful day we had today!! Remember back weeks ago when we thought this type of contact was the height of technology? My students really enjoy the experience of being inside your classroom. I hope both groups can begin to connect on a more personal basis now. You have brought us to a whole new level of discovery and collaboration. I am sure your next conference will focus on this newest adventure. I know it is farfetched today to discuss, and would require more regular involvement, but it is not impossible to dream. "Hope is the sister of misfortune" said Pushkin …..