This afternoon the assembly hall at Village Charter School in Trenton, NJ will be buzzing with excitement as educator Deanne McBeath’s students gather their school and board of directors to ask ‘why are there still so many hungry around the world and what are we going to do about it?” Deanne and her students have been preparing for this day for a couple of months now.
Each iEARN project asks educators and students to share what they have learned with their community. Today’s hunger assembly will do just that as it culminates what has been a life-changing classroom experience for Deanne and her students.
I spoke with Deanne about her work in the project Finding Solutions to Hunger and a recent Skype session with Solomon Ogbodo at St Mary’s Ecumenical School in Enugu that was one of the highlights for her students this year.
How did you and Solomon find each other and start working together?
I was sending “teacher communications” for the Finding Solutions to Hunger forum and Solomon responded. We have been in touch all school year. We first touched base in October. I occasionally will Skype with him from home. Usually on a Sunday evening, he has met my husband via Skype and they discuss the politics in Nigeria. Solomon and I worked as a triangle with Josef Puhringer in Austria. A triangle “Africa, North America and Europe”.
What activities have you collaborated on?
We have worked on the Finding Solutions to Hunger project predominantly. Our discussions and communications have centered on the theme of hunger in both of our countries, but also an opportunity for our students to learn about each others culture, including songs, school work, food, and sports.
How often are you using iEARN in your teaching (eg) one lesson a week, once a month?
I personally use iEARN in my teaching at least once a week, usually more. I am actively working on the Finding Solutions to Hunger (FS) and the Teddy Bear projects. [In Finding Solutions to Hunger] We are having a “Hunger Assembly” on Wednesday 23rd May, 2012. [For the Teddy Bear project] We have a bear from the Ukraine that is communicating with a bear that we sent to them. Sometimes, we use the iEARN Youth Forum just to infuse some global culture into our day.
Are you aligning this project work to the Common Core state standards?
I recently aligned the FS project with the Common Core standards.
What’s been the impact on your students?
The students are hugely impacted. One thing that has happened with the FS project is that we have a true cross curricular endeavor. The students have been exploring hunger in Social Studies, Art class, Music class, Media class, Technology, and Language Arts. Even the little ones are learning about food and where it comes from, how it grows, what its nutritional value is. I can’t put into words how important iEARN is to our students. I feel certain they will always remember this experience. Today, 7th graders were typing the Nigerian hand written essays into Word as a way to practice touch typing and also to learn–about Nigeria and the quality of their essay writing.
What’s been the impact on you as an educator?
For me as an educator this has been a way to open my eyes globally, to become more aware of the world. When I read about Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Russia, Ukraine, or any other place that I have had personal contacts with, I am interested in a way that I never was before.
Congratulations Deanne and your students.
We look forward to seeing your photos about the Hunger Assembly in the iEARN Teachers Forum this week