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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Kindergarten students learn first-hand about other cultures through technology in their classrooms

Monday, May 14, 2012

Deb Mortensen, Storm Lake kindergarten teacher, and her students Skyping their friends in Canada. / Photo by Lorri Glawe
Technology today allows for people on all sides of the world to come together.

Kindergarten students at Storm Lake Elementary have been given the opportunity to partner with sister classrooms or schools in another country, allowing for those students to gain the global perspective necessary for success in the 21st century, thanks to a $5,000 grant - Sharing the Dream - that the school received from the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Foundation and MetLife Foundation.

Juli Kwikkel, Storm Lake Elementary Principal, is among 25 principals from across the nation who was awarded the grant.

Sixteen Acer net books were purchased, two for each kindergarten classroom to use.

The title of the grant, "Using Technology to Reach the Corners of the World" is allowing SL kindergartners to share cultures by taking and sending pictures, videos, various language activities and even talking via Skype.

It has not been as easy as they had thought to locate partners - mostly due to the time differences - but the teachers will continue their search. One teacher that has been successful is Deb Mortensen who located a kindergarten class in Penticton, British Columbia, that wanted to partner with her SL class. The students have all had a hand in preparing power points for their Canadian friends and have enjoyed hearing back from them.

With nearly the same number of students in the two classes, the students have been paired up and each has had the opportunity to send messages to their "pen pals" via their computers.

On Tuesday, the students were able to see each other - live - for the first time through Skype - a new piece of technology for not only the students but for their teacher as well!

Their visit was cut short due to a poor connection but they will try again and continue with the power points.

This has been a wonderful experience in many ways for these Storm Lake students. Though there is great diversity in the school, there are currently no students from Canada.

The experience has also lent to the students' geography lesson as well as writing skills.

The students have also compared flags, sports, foods and even jobs between the two countries.

"I am so excited," said Mortensen. "We have so many cultures but this has brought one to the forefront. While we are finding out about a different place, we are also finding out we all have families that love us and schools that want the best education for us. I know this relationship will continue - but with new kids next year."

Kathy Bowman's class has been corresponding with a class in China but due to the time differences they will not be able to Skype; they have have shared many power points.

The other kindergarten teachers are still looking into locating partners.

But until then, the kindergarten student are enjoying their computer time and are becoming very proficient at operating them - another goal completed.

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