World School Network (WSN) teachers and navigators met at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Tokyo on May 4th and 5th to discuss collaborative learning for the semester to come. Twenty participants gathered for WSN's spring teachers' meeting. Teachers from Okinawa, western and central Japan, spent two full days discussing activities to take place this spring, fall and winter and shared ideas with the Russian Mission School in Alaska via television conference.
The meeting commenced with self-introductions of participating teachers/navigators. Navigators shared plans for activities based on local foods, such as Kyoto vegetables, lotus, rice, hechima (sponge cucumber), and trash problems relate to region (coastal as opposed to inland, etc).
Children having hands-on experiences in their communities can share and compare such experiences utilizing WSN. Navigators agreed that they want to deepen their childrenﾕs awareness by repeating this cycle.
Thereafter, several teachers introduced examples of WSN activities. Mr. OHNISHI (Okamoto-Kita Elementary, Tochigi) shared children's activities to create a town that is more comfortable to live in. Mr. HIROKAWA (Momoyama Junior High School, Kyoto) introduced activities concerning "food" which involved interaction with international participants. Mr. KATO (Kamidohri Elementary, Niigata) spoke of how his 3rd graders have come to write an average of 5 pages for their essays, and some have even written as many as 20 pages.
Each of these examples makes effective use of WSN's "Kids'Wisdom-Base," the online platform for WSN activities. Students can create portfolios of their work, upload incomplete work to save, and teachers can use the system to get an overview of childrenﾕs thoughts and activities in general.
In the evening session, navigators outlined their schedules and what themes they intend to tackle with students. Based on interest in the themes of "Water," "Trash," "Food" and "Wildlife," teachers decided to split day 2 discussions into two groups "Water and Trash" and "Food, Farm and life."
|On the morning of day 2 of the meeting, a television conference was held with Russian Mission School Principal, Mike Hull. Mr. Hull panned out his school's window to show footage of the Yukon River, which has recently broken its ice. Teachers from Japan shared plans for upcoming projects and discussed ways to connect Alaskan students with their students. Mr. Hull shared that his students will be working on their "subsistence project" throughout the fall. Students will spend 2 or 3 days a week in different camps working on surveys to study beaver habitat, learn to hunt moose, beaver, and to fish. Other activities will include trash cleanups in fishing and hunting camps, wildlife surveys and reports about whale hunting.|
Excited by the possibility of television conference connections, Kyoto's Momoyama JHS, Tokyoﾕs Nakano 7th JHS and Okinawa's Ryukyu Elementary all agreed with Mr. Hull to connect this fall.
Following the television conference, navigators and teachers divided into groups to plot the course for collaborative learning to take place this year.
In the "water and trash" group, navigators shared plans for river adventures, trash pick-ups along the seaside, searching for wise ways of water use from the past, water faucet survey, etc. Participants will report to and discuss their experiences in "Kids'Wisdom-Base".
In addition, navigators discussed the potential of having WSN alumni kids contribute to discussions and actually exchanging water samples. With more of a focus on trash, ideas to make designer "My bags" (tote shopping bags) and to have a trash sound contest were also discussed.
The group discussing "food, farm and life" came up with the following plans.
*Come in touch with peoples'ways of thinking, their ideas and hopes, through local foods.
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