Thursday, December 26, 2002

Fourth-graders learn via interactive television

Video sharing: Classrooms connect via cameras, monitors

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Fourth-graders at JF Burns Elementary are sharing their holiday with students across the globe this year.

Students from six classes used interactive video distance learning to connect with other schools across the country and people living in Mexico and Sweden. The students could communicate through the cameras and television monitors that let them hear and see one another.

"My favorite part was the stories, because they told many different stories," 10-year-old Kyle Schumacher said. "It was pretty interesting."

Those stories focused on traditions, foods and festive dress that help them celebrate the holiday season.

When the fourth-graders met with two Swedish students attending Indiana University, they learned "girls put wreaths with candles on their heads and light them" for St. Lucia's Day, 10-year-old Hayden Taylor said.

And during a session with students in Mexico, they got to see the class make traditional fruit punch, holiday flowers, a Nativity set and a piŅata.

"They put a little candy in, and oranges and bouncy balls," 9-year-old Derek Altman said.

"When they broke it, the bouncy balls bounced everywhere."

Two other distance-learning sessions focused on Hanukkah.

The students then used the information for their annual project comparing and contrasting holiday traditions worldwide.

They prepared a computer presentation and essay for their peers and parents earlier this month.

This was the first year the interactive distance learning was incorporated in the holiday traditions project, said Wendy Flynn, a fourth-grade teacher at Burns.

"Christmas is different in many different places," Kyle said. "Lots of people need to know that not all of them are the same."


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