Final Conclusions - Global Citizenship
Description of grant
Global Citizens: Our team developed shared experiences that build global awareness and empathy, directly tying to Mountain Brook Elementary’s philosophy to shape healthy and effective leaders. Students demonstrated leadership by planning, and leading lessons. We utilized 360° photos and videos from around the world to immerse our students in virtual reality situations that they may not otherwise experience.
What happened over the course of the grant:
We were able to improve students’ empathy experiences through immersive technology. Students at MBE were able to expand their horizons through these virtual experiences. Our blog captured a great deal of the students’ experiences. From watching students "enter" coal mines on the Google Expeditions to talking to students in Colombia or Jordan- the students gained new perspectives on life and how others around the world have both similar and different experiences from their own. Teachers learned the technical happenings with the technology (as did the students) but the long-term effects of understanding someone else's perspective is what we will remember and what our grant was about at the heart. We learned right along the students. We dispelled stereotypes. We laughed together. We grew together.
We went above our grant’s initial scope and added the New York Times 360 app and CoSpaces work for our 6th graders to have even more immersive experiences. Having students build their own 360 environments in CoSpaces was something we planned for year two but the kids were eating up the experiences so we capitalized on that. We plan to continue and expand this software to other subjects in 6th grade in the coming school year so that students have multiple experiences building a 360 environment. And we bought a 360 camera! A small group of 6th graders journeyed around Birmingham to capture images of historically significant sites to share on Google Tours- to later be imported to the Google Expedition app. This was unplanned at the start of the year and a wonderful addition to our grant work.
What we learned:
We learned that having a supportive team is very important. That observing and sharing our findings, tricks, and techniques is important to the success of a plan. The team worked well to achieve the goals they had set at the start of the grant. Students improved their understanding about the world they inhabit. We believe our work with the grant will be continued and expanded so that others can have these experiences.
We recommended to others some technical items we learned. We did our best to document those technical tips in the blog. For example: the VR cart was helpful for the sustainability to the use of the VR headsets. Not having to unplug the phones from the cases and ease for sharing classroom to classroom is recommended- this cart protected and improved opportunities for the students. The VR headsets are friendly to those who do not consider themselves "techie." They are an easily adaptable technology that has an immediate reaction from students. While the ongoing maintenance costs are unknown we are doing our best to take care of these devices so they last.
We recommend that all students have a global experience. We chose Level Up Village for our Kindergarten and 5th graders at MBE. The impact talking to a student near your age, half way around the world regarding a global issue is so impactful. We would want that for our own children. We want that for all our students. Bringing students closer together to solve problems, learning about cultures, is exactly what we hoped for. We recommend that all students have 1-2 LUV or LUV-like experiences in their K-6.
We had many visitors from MBS and around the state to see our VR and Level Up Village work. We know that others have decided these avenues are something they’re building into their local budgets now. The value in these types of technologies that bring the outside world in is clear to educators around the world. Again, this took a team. When implementing these special technologies you need support personnel to collaborate with along the way.
MBE is funding all 5th graders and all Kindergarteners to have a Level Up Village experience this school year (2018-19). 5th grade work will be facilitated by Mr. Bill Andrews, using the same course that Mrs. Suzanne Andrews piloted- Global Scientists. Kindergarten will be led by each of the homeroom teachers and start in the 2nd semester and will continue to use the Global Programmers course. We hope each section is paired with a different country so that they can compare experiences!
Our work with virtual reality will continue as the VR set will be offered to the full student body, after their teachers complete some basic training and observations from our grant team. We believe this technology will be in high demand as the school year progresses. We want to set the staff up for success when integrating this technology by offering hands-on training and coaching during their first use of the technology.
This was a worthy use of grant funds because we believe we have improved our students’ experiences at MBE for lifelong impact. We believe that, especially the global partners experiences, will be something students can say that they know this to be true- the world is full of rich and diverse cultures and experiences and we have a positive role to play. We thank the Institute for Innovation for their funding and commitment to providing the best to our students.