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Piedmont Middle Students Communicate with Brazil

 Student interaction was not lacking in Andrew Contafio’s sixth grade Social Studies classroom at the beginning of October as his students participated in a Skype call with another middle school class located in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mr. Contafio is participating in a pilot program occurring at several schools throughout our district in a transformed classroom, better known as a High Impact Learning Environment. This pilot has replaced traditional furniture and technologies within several classrooms across the district.

With the help of his colleague, Kelly Webb, a sixth grade Science teacher at Piedmont Middle School, students were able to communicate with Eliane Siuffi Abbud’s 7th grade Advanced Speaking English class in Brazil. Contafio and Webb reached out to Abbud prior to the start of the school year via Epals and made the decision to become sister schools and work on various collaborative academic projects throughout the school year.

Prior to the actual Skype call Piedmont Middle students, with the help of their teachers, did extensive research on Sao Paulo, Brazil The students learned about the city and what it was like to attend school in Brazil. An interactive website was utilized in which students could click on various views of the “sister school” in Brazil. Upon completion of their research, students in both locations crafted questions to ask of each school during the Skype call.

To conclude their activity, students participated in a Moodle Forum containing guided reflection questions in which they shared their thoughts on the information obtained during the session. One sixth grade student, Shivalee Patel stated in her response “ I truly appreciated that Skyping session. It was fun learning about Brazil, and it was absolutely amazing how we were able to get to talk to them.”

A team effort was needed in order to prepare for this video call; all three teachers exchanged several emails and conducted a test call prior to October 1st. The Desktop Support Engineer, Cedric Webb, downloaded Skype onto the Mondoboard for use during the call. Contafio stated that “It was the first Skype session using the new 80 inch Mondoboard that is part of the UCPS Classroom of the Future Project and it is indeed a technological wonder board.”

Going forward Contafio stated that students will continue using Epals for academic correspondence with their new friends in Brazil. The next upcoming project Contafio has planned will have students conducting a global project when his students begin learning about Mesoamerica.

Written by: Becky Swiger, Instructional Technology Facilitator
Posted: Oct 13, 2014 by Karen Barbee

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