SCHERERVILLE | Educators at Forest Ridge Academy are taking a page out of a book by two pioneering teachers on how to use networking for collaborative learning.
Forest Ridge computer technology teacher Debbie Heinz attended a seminar last year that highlighted the book "Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to a Global Collaborative One Step at a Time," by Julie Lindsay and Vicki A. Davis.
Heinz bought the book and brought the ideas to Forest Ridge.
The objective is for students across the world to communicate with each other by sharing comments about their culture and country. The themes include school, leisure, transportation, environment, housing and food.
Fourth-grade teachers Brian Waddle and Jenny Stob have been working with Heinz on the project since school started this fall. The 18 fourth-graders in the two classes access the program online, communicating with students from different areas of the United States and Brazil, China and Slovakia.
Stob said she also has started using the program with first-graders and will expand it to the second-grade class next semester.
Stob said technology has become a major factor in education today, and this program gives students an opportunity to connect with other students globally and talk about their similarities and differences.
"I am so excited about this school year and what they can do with this program," she said. "This allows students to use education and technology. I personally love the culture part of it. Here it's cold and in Brazil it's warm. The children are able to talk about the environment and how it affects them."
Waddle said, "This technology allows students to learn beyond textbooks. Their parents are on computers and they're on computers. This is a hands-on activity. They also learn typing, they improve their language skills and get an opportunity to see what students in other parts of the world are doing."
Fourth-grader Mia Vukas, 9, said she met a girl from Brazil and is learning about the kinds of food the girl eats in her country.
"She likes sushi. I told her I like bacon and fresh fruits," Mia said. "I really like this. I like learning about their culture and the things they like to do."