When the computers first arrived at my schools most of the teachers (me included) panicked! I had no idea how I was going to cope with that little box and screen that now was given an "honorable section" at my school in the lab. Needless to say I was apprehensive and puzzled. Change is never easy for anyone.Fully aware my 6th graders are part of the computer generation; my thoughts led me to ask the class to recommend one of their classmates to spearhead our computer project. Surprisingly, they all recommended a boy named Avishai, so I decided to ask for his assistance. I suggested that I teach him extra hours after school in order to improve his English. In return he would teach me computer skills. He immediately agreed and to my delight Avishai received a 95 on his next English test! (I didn't learn as quickly about technology!)
The novelty of remaining after school was beginning to wear thin for both of us I and asked him if he were willing to give up the extra hours of English since he had improved so much and I was so proud of his accomplishments. I said, "Maybe you don't need the English lessons anymore." He said," I don't need the English lessons but you still need the computer lessons. You have not yet received a 95! After Avishai's instructions and then taking several courses, I realized I needed to advance my students and myself towards the world of tomorrow, and not educate them for a world that no longer existed.
World of Projects
Five years ago I was looking for ways to interest my children in their English studies. After many courses and difficult work, I realized the value of the Internet as a way of spreading an educational message around the world. The process has led me to become a technology innovator and global leader in online collaborative learning projects. These projects now include thousands of children from more than 37 countries worldwide.
My introduction to collaborative projects was through the "friends and flags" project in Israel. I was now ready to begin my own collaborative projects and began developing "Dream a dream with Ein Ganim" (now called Global Dreamers).
"Global Dreamers" (http://www.globaldreamers.org/) prompts students at Ein Ganim and from around the world to join in a multicultural project that captures students' thinking in a visual way. The "Share" section is full of information about many countries, cultures, schools, etc. There are also many group projects that participants can choose to join as their schedules allow.
"Global Dreamers" inspires children to take a deeper look at the world by exploring, exchanging ideas, and using research tools. It supports a positive learning environment and a shared learning experience. By inviting the participation of children from around the globe, it supports the fight against the Digital Divide. In addition, it aims to encourage cross-cultural communication and to promote global understanding, while helping children to expand their knowledge and supporting the innovative use of new technologies in education. Above all, it attempts to create a more tolerant individual in a multicultural society. We believe that by understanding and learning about others, children can face a better world.
As an EFL teacher it was my wish to combine English teaching along with technology. I wanted my students to experience a social, cultural and personal learning experience. This project utilizes Internet technologies for genuine learning of the English language by activating and motivating children with various online activities. In addition to the utilization of technologies, studying English will also assist different cultures in participating with greater understanding in the challenge of globalization.
The project's activities include a web quest about Israel and our 'dreamers' web site, writing and story corners, emails, a calendar, a news corner, an active discussion board and virtual games. The project integrates technology in the classroom and children become active creative learners. It increases their curiosity, their interests and as a result they are more committed to the authentic learning process. There are many group projects that teachers can choose to join and an art gallery where students can send in their own work.
As a result of all the following, the number of participants grows from month to month. Over 75 schools and home-schooled families from around the world take part in our activities. Teachers, parents and children from around the world have joined in the dynamic GlobalDreamers project.
Since the project demands organized communication, I send emails to all the educators involved. This includes classes from kindergartens, elementary schools, home schooled, junior high and high schools. Once a week I notify them of the different activities that are offered on the web site so they can participate in our online activities. Our meeting place is of course the website.
When an educator contacts me, I first send pictures of all the children in the project from my 4th 5th and 6th grade classes. I also include background information about our school, city and of our country. The teachers involved use these materials to begin teaching about us and of course about Israel. Teachers have learned new and exciting ways of integrating various forms of technology into their curriculum. The feedback I receive has been encouraging.