Yesterday two of our grade 9 Humanities classes had the opportunity to have a discussion with two classes of grade 8 students at Wayne Highland Middle School in Honesdale, PA. Using Skype, the students were able to ask other questions about the differences between the political systems in our two countries.
Student on both ends enjoyed the discussion, as the topics ranged from political process, to troops in Afghanistan, to healthcare reforms and Olympic Hockey.
Our thanks to the teachers involved, as well as Lori Sheldon
for helping set up the opportunity through twitter.
One of the most significant things that came out of this discussion was a desire next year to build a more sustained project around cross-border political understanding. While this initial experiment with having American and Canadian students talk politics was engaging, we believe there is incredible potential in having students work together over a more lengthly period. We imagine students working in small groups to compare and contrast how our two countries respond to particular issues (economy, healthcare, environment, immigration, etc). This would also allow our students to dig deeply into the different histories and values that have created the current political and economic conditions in both countries.
We were also thinking it would be fascinating to have students co-build a presentation (perhaps using Google Docs) and then share them to their two classes simultaneously. This would allow students to build some great collaboration and communication skills with students they have never met face-to-face.
So our hunt is on for a school willing to try this next year. We are flexible with the time in the year we would attempt this project.
We’re looking for:
- four classes of grade 9 or 10 students who study political systems
- a teacher willing to build an extended project through skype with our two grade 9 teachers
- a school were students have enough access to technology to be engaged in continuous collaboration
- a flexible time-table to allow for synchronous presentations
If are such a teacher, or know of such a teacher, please comment below. It’s never too early to start planning for next year!