Although snowflakes were in the air Friday outside of Minetto Elementary School, thoughts of the beach, playing outside and catching some rays danced in the minds of students in Jill Noel’s class.
The Minetto third graders took a virtual field trip to Ghana, West Africa, where they interacted with students their age through a videoconference coordinated by the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation.
The distance learning service provided the local students with a chance to learn about the customs and traditions of their peers on the other side of the globe.
Images of the third grade classes were projected onto a screen, with each class able to view and communicate with one another in real time.
Noel’s students talked about the climate in upstate New York, local events, holiday traditions and things they were studying in school. As the Minetto students discussed the changing leaves outside, the barren trees and the cold temperatures, their counterparts described the beaches and the warm weather.
“This is a great way for our students to connect and get a better understanding of other cultures,” said Kim LeRoy, Minetto Elementary School’s library media specialist. “They had great questions and the kids learned a lot.”
Despite some significant differences in culture, Minetto students also learned that there were many similarities.
The third graders from Ghana liked to eat Subway sandwiches, play sports, sing and celebrate birthdays, just like American children.
With one successful international connection completed, LeRoy said she is looking forward to the additional opportunities that will come to Minetto Elementary School this year.
There are two more videoconferences scheduled with students in Africa and one that will allow Minetto students to explore the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.