One of the goals of the Mitchell Scarlett Teaching and Learning Collaborative is to create meaningful projects that benefit all stakeholders: students, teachers, and interns. This extended day project met these criteria.
Beginning this past February, 20 Mitchell third graders met weekly after school to engage in a cross cultural exchange with third graders from Hamilton, New Zealand. In its second year, this project was organized and facilitated by Mitchell teachers, Beth McCready and Anne Reader, and two UM interns, Leah Askew and Erin Streyle.
Building on students’ cultural and geographic curiosity, the teachers purposefully crafted writing activities that built students’ confidence and skill in writing. Students wrote weekly to their pen pals, often with a focus on building cross cultural awareness about life in New Zealand and the United States. For example, students wrote about objects they treasure, created timelines of their lives, described how they feel pride, and shared summaries of interviews they had conducted with family and Mitchell staff members about life in the U.S.
Although writing is the core activity, this project also built students’ skills in computer literacy, research, and presentation. The culminating activity involved students researching an aspect of New Zealand life, such as sports, celebrations, or daily life; creating a slide show presentation based on this research; and, then presenting their slide shows to their families and Mitchell community on Monday, May 13th.
In addition to building students’ writing skills, this extended day project also provided UM interns, who have been working at Mitchell all year, with the opportunity to enhance their skills in working with small groups of students. Having a chance to work with students outside of the regular school hours and curriculum was also a valuable learning experience for these interns as well as for the veteran teachers.
Click on the following links to view student work: