District Administration April 2017 - 50


BYPASSING BORDERS
projects together, both in real-time and
asynchronously. Even better for educators
is that most of the technology is relatively
low-bandwidth, meaning rural, less affluent districts also have access, says Tonya
Muro, executive director of iEarn USA,
an international nonprofit that facilitates
virtual classroom collaborations.
Districts are eager to join these programs because students learn to empathize and communicate with their peers
from other parts of the world, whose daily
lives may be vastly different. And in a
world of blogs and fake news, such virtual exchanges allow students to get firsthand information from around the globe,
Muro adds.
For districts that haven't participated
in such a collaboration, organizations
such as iEarn can share with them lesson plans of teachers who have aligned
the activities with core curriculum goals.
"This country is so multicultural, we have
no choice but to learn about 'others' if we
want to survive as a nation," Muro says.

CULTURAL EXCHANGE-Students
in Greenup County Schools in
Kentucky share cultural perspectives
with classes in Jordan and Pakistan.

Becoming part of the world
Ben Jatos' students at Fort Vancouver
High School Center for International
Studies in Washington, have collaborated with peers in Brazil and elsewhere
via UNESCO's International Youth Virtual Town Hall on Global Citizenship.
The initiative also includes teens from
Canada, Haiti, Kenya, New Zealand,
Morocco, Palestine, the Philippines, Slovenia and Sweden.

Students worked on seven global
citizenship assignments, which focused
on sustainability, human rights, gender equality, cultural diversity and nonviolence, among other topics. Students
in the different countries posted writing
assignments as blog posts, and compared
their work.
Jatos' students completed the project by collaborating to write the International Youth White Paper on Global

"Future-ready students need future-ready
learning environments."
-Steve Webb, superintendent, Vancouver Public Schools

50 April 2017

Citizenship. The paper was presented to
international delegates at the UNESCO
Global Forum in Ottawa, Canada, just
last month.
"Many of my students did not feel like
part of the world before," says Jatos. "And
now they feel like they are part of something bigger. There is so much power
in realizing that these kids are the same
across the world."
Jatos also saw an improvement in his
students' writing.
"They knew that when they write
these blog posts there is a genuine audience who is going to read them-other
students around the world," says Jatos.
"They put so much thought and effort
into it that the product was stellar."
One challenge was finding the extra
time for the independent study project during the school day. Jatos says he
sometimes pulled students out of regular
classes, and other work was done during
lunch and after school.
Jatos and his students have interacted
twice with foreign classes in real-time
using Cisco's WebEx platform. Jatos and
his students had to get up quite early to
account for the time difference.
Jatos' projects have enjoyed his superintendent's full support. "Future-ready
students need future-ready learning environments," says Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. "In
an interconnected and interdependent
world, young people must learn how to
understand global issues, communicate
with diverse audiences and act as responsible and compassionate citizens."
International collaborations are valuable for teachers, as well.
"A teacher spends so much of their
time within four little walls that we lose
sight of big-picture things sometimes,"
says Jatos. "Our world gets small; international collaborations remind us that there
is so much out there, and that the world
is a big place."
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2017

District Administration April 2017 - Cover1
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