Category Archives: Global citizenship
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a photograph of 5 rhinos taken in the Kruger National Park, the inspiration for my Travelling Rhinos Project, would spark off such interest and enthusiasm amongst the classes that have signed up!
What started off as an ambitious idea has grown into something so much more than just a project. It has sparked conversation, debate, inquiry and creativity.
The Twitter feed is constant, with daily feedback and photo sharing, and the Facebook page is a hive of activity with the number of ‘Likes’ growing at a steady pace. With 35 classes from around the globe already signed up, and more inquiries coming in, I can see this project running for more than just the year I had originally planned.
I’ve become a Skype expert overnight, having had Skype calls every week for the past four weeks! I’ve had the pleasure of doing two Mystery Skype calls – one with a Grade 7 class in Bridgenorth, Ontario, Canada (they took only 9 minutes to pinpoint my location) and another with a Grade 4/5 class in Guelph, Ontario, Canada (they took 11 minutes to pinpoint my location). I have also been interviewed by the Grade 5 Denton Dynamos in New York, and just last night I had a lovely chat with Grade 5 class in Surrey, BC, Canada. I’ve learnt that I have to have my answers ready – the children have good questions and they require informed answers!
The quality of the contributions by the different classes is simply astounding. They have created art works, videos, presentations, written letters to their local newspapers, designed t-shirts and more. The reaction to this project has been nothing less than astounding! I cannot wait to see what else the other classes come up with!
It’s a new year with so many new possibilities!
In November last year I launched a new Global Classroom Project at school and it went national and global on 7 December.
Inspired by this photo that I took of five rhinos drinking in unison at a waterhole in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, in July, I had five small rhino soft toys made out of genuine African fabric (one side shweshwe and the other an African print). Each rhino was given a truly African name (through a competition amongst our students). These rhinos are on their way to classrooms far and wide – one to South African Schools and then into Africa, one to Australia and New Zealand, one to Canada and America, one to America and South America and one to Europe and Asia. Through global connections I have made in the Global Classroom Project and via Twitter, I have sourced schools to send the rhinos to and currently have 33 classes signed up for the project which will run until December this year, or longer. (It is similar to a Flat Stanley project, but this time with Travelling Rhinos).
Each class will host the rhinos for a week or two and in that time the teacher is asked to educate the students about the rhino situation (in the world, but especially SA), they are asked to dispel the myth that rhino horn is medicine and then they are asked to get their children to contribute to a class page in a wiki that I have created (I have put together information they can use and provided websites for more information). They can write letters of appeal/make videos/do art work – anything which gives the children a voice in the fight against rhino poaching. They are then asked to send the rhino on to another class in their country. Of course they must also document the visit with photos and we will track each rhino’s journey on a Google map. The rhinos will travel for the whole year (or more).
The motivation behind my project is to educate and to use the children’s voices to highlight the gravity of the problem to other countries. After all, it is their children and grandchildren etc. that we want to save the rhinos for, and we rely heavily on tourism in South Africa, so I believe we can make a difference in this way.
Ultimately, once we have many classes participating and contributing, I would like to bring the project to the attention of the powers that be in government. I’m not sure how or who yet, but I have time to work that out!
To find out more about this project visit the wiki: http://saveourrhinos.wikispaces.com
Visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheTravellingRhinosProject
Follow us on Twitter: @travellingrhino
I just experience am most amazing, uplifting experience and I have to share.
I was sitting at my desk when a Skype call came through from Govinda Prasad Panthy, a teacher I have connected with from Bhakatapur, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has just improved his internet connection with the help of Steve Sherman, a Cape Town based Maths expert, so he wanted to test it. What a wonderful opportunity! We chatted for a few minutes and then he brought in a small group of Grade 5 pupils who all asked me questions. They were wonderful.
While this was happening, Sweetness, one of our cleaning ladies, was cleaning my office. Govinda asked me if there was anyone else the children could speak to and so I called Sweetness in to chat too. It was wonderful to see her reaction! How was this possible, to speak to someone so far away? The children on the other hand were amazed too; they wanted to know her name (I gave them her full Xhosa name – that amused them because it is so long), where she was born, whether she was a teacher too and what her job was. They thought Sweetness was beautiful, which she is.
Afterwards, I found a map to show Sweetness where Nepal is. She was totally amazed by the whole experience. I sent a photo that I had taken to her cell phone and I know that she will be showing it to her friends and family today.
The whole experience has left me feeling uplifted and in awe of what technology can do.
Govinda’s SAV School Blog: http://savschool.wordpress.com/
In the past few weeks I have learnt more than I am sure I learnt in my four years of college – way back when! When I took on the task of finding a class overseas to collaborate with, I certainly did not have the faintest idea of what it would mean for me. It has been the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced, and I have to be honest and add that I felt some trepidation at times, but boy, have I loved every minute of it!
I’ve learnt how to Skype – and all the ramifications that go with projecting the session onto a screen for all to see (setting up the webcam, data projector, sound tests, speakers etc.), I’ve learnt how to create a Posterous blog for all the project photos, and I’ve learnt how to add things to the project wiki that I was not sure of before. Today I discovered a website with clocks to show the different time zones. I’ve embedded them into the wiki and the Posterous blog and they look really smart!
Just shows, you are never too old to learn. I am a life-long learner and I am definitely enjoying my learning more now than when I was at school, so it is my mission to expose the children here at my school to as many new experiences as possible – and technology is just the way to do that!
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, we crossed the miles between Cape Town, South Africa and Michigan, USA, with ease. By using Skype our Grade 6’s communicated with new-found 6th Grade friends from Madison Middle School in Adrian, Michigan. In two Skype sessions, we connected and chatted, comparing our different schools and asked questions about life in America vs. life in South Africa. Our children asked the most interesting questions and got to answer questions from the other side of the Atlantic too. Their children were very interested in our school uniforms and they asked us whether we liked them and felt comfortable in them. They were particularly interested in the shoes we wear to school! This is learning in real time and surely how our children should be learning in the 21st Century?
What fun it was – and somehow the world did not seem to be such a big place after all!