Global Learning Project Proposal ETEC 525 Chuck Mageean

Proposed Global Learning Project
The plan for this Global Learning Project is to work in partnership with Paula Martinez, a
high school teacher of language arts at a public high school located in San Jose, Costa
Rica, and a graduate student at the UNA. I am also a teacher of language arts at a
public high school, but my school is located in Long Beach, California, in the United
States. Both of us currently teach tenth graders, however at my school the tenth graders
are two years shy of graduation, at Paula’s school they only have one additional year of
high school.Our initial plan is to work together for twelve weeks and to attempt to
engage our students in synchronous meetings on at least ten occasions. The purpose
of this project is to have students develop their language, writing, and communication
skills as well as for them to develop a global perspective, a greater understanding of
geography, world affairs and current events by establishing partnerships with students
from another country. A general idea for both of us is that we will be able to meet
several of the already established course objectives for our respective classes through
this project. For example, my course outline requires students to write a descriptive
paper. For the class involved in this project, their descriptive paper will be incorporated
into the project. The final piece of the project involves describing their community,
school, studies, and interests to students in Costa Rica. The hope is that by having an
audience of students from Costa Rica, as opposed to merely writing a paper for their
instructor to read, students will have a more vivid, meaningful and authentic experience
while fulfilling the standard requirements for the class. (After visiting Costa Rica and
presenting my own project there, I am quite excited and enthusiastic about trying to
recreate some of that experience for my own students; this project has tremendous
potential to benefit my students in a myriad of ways.)
The project is divided into three phases: the initial two meetings are a sort of a meet and
greet or icebreaker phase. The purpose of the initial phase is to enable students from
both countries to become familiar and comfortable with each other, and to establish
partnerships with members of the other class. It is hoped that by initially approaching
this project in a low stress, somewhat fun way, issues such as gender bias will be
mitigated and a more equitable learning experience will be created. Assignments in the
initial phase are to be relatively simple and low-stress. For the first meeting, students in
each of the classes are to generate a series of 20 questions to ask of their colleagues
abroad. For the second meeting they are to make a small photo album picturing their
home, school, pet, sport, musical interests, hobbies, fashion sense, hometown, friends
and favorite subject in school.
It is hoped that by sharing this sort of information students will be able to locate potential
partners with which they share common interests and that a more authentic exchange
will result. Additionally, students will benefit by becoming involved in a multifaceted,
project based learning exercise which involves writing, photography, technology,
communication, geography, anthropology and so forth.
Our plans for the second phase is for our students to form partner pairs and become
electronic pen pals (or email pals). While the minimum requirements for the next four
meetings is that students will write a minimum of 300 words, use standard English, use
appropriate language and topics for a school related exercise and focus on cultural
aspects in these exchanges, our hope is that students will go beyond the minimum and
Global Learning Project Proposal ETEC 525 Chuck Mageean
develop genuine interests and friendships at this stage. Students at both schools will be
briefed on important topics regarding cultural sensitivity, the ethics of online
communication, appropriateness for school related activities and good manners. Just as
we were briefed before our departure, our students will be reminded that they represent
both the United States and Jordan High School in this exchange, and our goal is to
make a good impression. These four 300 word letters are to be posted to the instructors
for credit.
The final stage of this process are formal presentations. Students in both classes are to
form partnerships with another member of their class and create a five minute
presentation about their community, school, studies, and interests. What we envision is
for the students to present their material by sending their Powerpoint electronically to
the alternate school, (where the instructor at the receiving end would be able to
administer the slideshow) and the narration for the slideshow could be done live via
Skype. By limiting presentations to five minutes and working in partner pairs, there
should be over forty minutes of time left over within the last four sessions for transitions,
technical difficulties, and other unforeseeable yet inevitable delays.
There are several obstacles which will have to be dealt with for this plan to work: There
is a mild language gap between my students and Paula’s students. Paula’s school uses
trimesters, we use semesters. Paula’s school is an hour ahead of my school, and of
course the biggest obstacle is that the internet connection at Paula’s school might not
have the bandwidth to support narration via Skype.
Most of these obstacles should be relatively easy to overcome. Paula’s students are
English language learners and are expected to be able to communicate in English. The
majority of my students are fluent Spanish speakers. The students at my site who do
not speak Spanish are to be paired up with the stronger English speakers from Paula’s
group. My classes meet for two, eighteen-week semesters, so it will not be a problem
to adapt to Paula’s twelve-week trimesters. My school day begins one hour later than
Paula’s, but limiting the initial exercise to a single midmorning class can solve this
difficulty. The most vexing problem is the likelihood that the internet connection at
Paula’s school might not be strong enough to support the presenters narrating their
presentations using Skype or a similar technology.
We have discussed various ways to deal with this obstacle. We will have several
opportunities to attempt a “dry run” to see if using Skype to narrate a presentation
across borders will succeed, and we will also be able to seek assistance from our
various help desks prior to the actual presentations. My school has a very strong
internet connection; Paula believes that she will be able to get the cooperation of other
teachers at her work site to minimize their internet usage while the presentations are
occurring in order to maximize our chances for success. Ultimately, if the specific idea
for the presentation (emailing the Powerpoint and doing a live narration using Skype)
proves to be impractical at this time, we will alter the plan to find a method for the
presentations that will work. In fact, a cornerstone of our plan and of our partnership is
that we are both adaptable and creative people and as such we will be able to adjust
and develop this project in an ongoing fashion. These plans are the guidelines we have
discussed so far; once we actually get into the lab and have our first session we will be
able to revisit our outlines and discuss which of our ideas will work and what needs to
be changed. Ideally, we will be able to make this an ongoing and exciting learning
Global Learning Project Proposal ETEC 525 Chuck Mageean
opportunity which we can repeat for many years and possibly expand to other classes
as well.