Virtual Lesson Pairs Classes across the Atlantic
Students at a Middle School in Henrico will be in class next week with students at a middle school in Germany.
Through the Math Science Innovation Center in Richmond, Tuckahoe Middle will share a science lesson with students at the Oakleaf School in Weiskirchen, Germany.
Wharton: This is the very first one that we’ve done here at the Center.
Lorin Wharton is a science educator at the Innovation Center.
Wharton: My seniors class were hoping that as we go onto next year other schools will generate interest and wanting to do the same thing. Because most of the schools around here, especially the middle schools, have the international baccalaureate program, and part of that is being paired with an international school. So we’re hoping if this goes smoothly and works nicely we can offer this out next year, to our consortium schools, to use this as one of their services.
The idea, she said, was born just before Christmas when Wharton was visiting Donna Forrester’s science class at Tuckahoe to talk about one of the Center’s new programs.
Wharton: We have a new life science genetics lesson. She introduced me to the idea of doing a lesson with their sister school that they’re paired with here at Tuckahoe over in Germany.
The two were excited by it and came up with the seed of an idea to do an international virtual science lesson. Everyone will be able to see everyone else.
Wharton: It’s really neat how our virtual lessons work. We use a software platform called Illuminate so everybody is connected virtually. The Tuckahoe students will be there at their school and we’ll be here at the Math Science Innovation Center. And everybody logs onto the Illuminate link with webcams and we are able to physically see each other up on the screen, and interact with each other with the webcam microphones and other tools that the Illuminate platform offers us. So it will be all virtual.
Wharton and the author of the lesson are going to do the presentation:
Wharton: Rachel Martin actually wrote the lesson, it’s a genetics lesson called Fish Out of Water. The students come in and they learn what alleles are, they pair up alleles. The overall point of the lesson is to combine genetic alleles to figure out what generations of offspring of fish would look like as you move through time.
As far as the language barrier,
Wharton: We will have a class of students from Tuckahoe Middle who are taking German and most of the students over in Germany are proficient in speaking English. They’ve had probably four or five years of English by this point. Overall we’ll have 50 students from Tuckahoe and about 55 students from the school in Germany. And most of the students from Germany are middle school students and they are going to incorporate in some of their 9th-grade biology students because the students in Germany who are taking the biology course take the course in English. So most of them are pretty proficient in English already, but we will have the German teacher there from Tuckahoe that will come and help aide us in case there are any translation issues or any confusion that takes place she’ll be able to come on and help us translate, so that makes a little more sense.
Wharton says everyone involved is excited. The American team has had two online meetings with their German counterparts and students in both countries are ready for Tuesday morning.
Wharton: It’s such an exciting opportunity and such a unique opportunity to be able to connect these students across the ocean with one another.
The hope is, Wharton concluded,
Wharton: They can continue to communicate using platforms like Skype and be able to see one another and continue discussions, especially science discussions, after we do this virtual lesson with them.
John Ogle, WCVE News