Connecting classrooms around the world
When Roy Bartnick was in the US Army, he got to see different parts of the world and experience different cultures and people. Now that he’s a teacher, he wants his students to have those same experiences – to be able to step outside their traditional classroom setting and see the bigger picture.
So, when Bartnick, currently a fifth-grade teacher at Coolidge Elementary in Enid, Oklahoma, learned about iEARN, a nonprofit organization that connects classrooms from all over the world through collaborative projects, he was instantly on board.
Bartnick’s first project connected fifth-grade students at his former school, Chisholm Elementary, with a Nigerian classroom doing a project on water conservation. “We did the same experiment,” said Bartnick, “collecting rainwater and measuring the pH and acidity to see who had better drinking water.”
The two classes kept in touch via monthly Skype sessions, and Bartnick began to notice his students were learning about more than just water collection and pH balance. “They would start having conversations while they did the science,” he recalled. “‘What do you guys eat there?’ ‘How hot is it there all the time?’ It was kind of neat to make that cultural connection while we were doing this, measuring rainwater. And that got me thinking that we need to reach out of Central Oklahoma more. It’s a big world out there.”
The Chisholm class also collaborated with students in Tbilisi, Georgia, discussing, among other things, the difference in rural/farming communities versus cities in Georgia, typical meals for each country, and where they came from.
For Bartnick, the iEARN projects were eye-opening experiences that led to an opportunity of a lifetime – traveling to Senegal to exchange classroom ideas with the teachers there. For that story, keep an eye on The Pitsco Network.
Bartnick is a member of the Pitsco Teacher Advisory Group (TAG). He is the fifth-grade team leader and technology coordinator for his school and teaches fifth-grade math, science, social studies, and robotics.
Ready to expand your students’ horizons? Learn more about iEARN to start your own classroom adventure!