Sylvia Tolisano, in her K12 Online Conference presentation, described an interesting way to open up the world to the students in her school. Two teachers were funded to go to China and communicated with the school along the way. She tells the story of this experience and talks about the importance of story. The school started a global studies curriculum with the objective of introducing the students to a new country in each of their years in the school.
Travel - 2 Faculty travelled for two weeks and collected artifacts and data
Connections - students connected with the travelling faculty through José the Bear as well as through blogs and podcasts etc.
Interdisciplinary Studies - units designed to teach conceptual and procedural information to bring all subjects together.
The teachers tried to make a connection for the students. Based on the book "Letters from Felix" they brought along José the Bear. He spent a few days in each class before going away. Each grade participated in different ways. How could they make the experience almost synchronous for the students so they would feel they were travelling along? They recorded sound-seeing tours, videos etc. Blogs, comments - gave students a lot to learn and to connect with. A virtual connection was made through the use of technology. A blog on which videos, audio files and text were shared. Images went to Flickr and the slide shows were shared. Skype was used for some video-conferencing. You can learn more about the global studies program here.
I think it was great that the students learned about another country. How much better it would be to contact people in the country and learn from children their age. I also found some of the activities rather directive. Nice to be a teacher there - with travel opportunities! However, global understanding will happen more when we reach out and learn from each other.