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Thoughtful Integration of Global Learning Throughout Guatemalan Classrooms

By: Ms. Helen O’Neal, Teacher at Colegio Americano del Sur, Guatemala

The Colegio Americano del Sur (CAS) grade 7 class presented their projects on Human Life and the Environment on June 21st, 2017.  Our IVECA class partnered with Boram Elementary School in Korea. The work of the students was supported by teachers Ms. Sanha Lee from Boram Elementary and Mr. Edgar Caniz, Ms. Ema Hernandez, and Ms. Helen O’Neal from CAS. For our live class presentation, each student group researched a different technological innovation, examining the innovation’s positive and negative aspects. The class focused on the similarities and differences between our two countries’ daily activities and impacts on the environment. The IVECA course encouraged our students to examine possible solutions to our impact on the environment from a local and global perspective. Our IVECA program lasted three months and included topics integrating language arts, social studies, and science.

Our middle school English teachers collaborated on the extended classroom project. The IVECA program facilitated horizontal alignment within our existing curriculum. Ms. Hernandez, our English Language Arts teacher, focused her students’ work on different stories and narratives addressing her curriculum objectives such as text and author analysis. Ms. Hernandez tells us, “Students wrote a narrative about life at CAS in which they expressed how happy they feel to be part of this school.” Working on the assignments, students were able to build upon prior knowledge and activate prior skills to complete each topic. Also, the program integrated technology, making use of 21st-century skills within the classroom. The variety of topics and integration of technology provided an appealing platform for students to work and interact with their Korean partners.

IVECA motivated our CAS students to participate and to collaborate within groups and with students from different Korean cultures.  The topics of the IVECA course were interesting and relevant to the students. In English Language Arts, the students analyzed characters and techniques of local narratives such as Rigoberta Menchu and La Nina de Guatemala. “Rigoberta is one of the most important characters of modern Guatemala. La Nina de Guatemala is one of the most well-known poems due to its relation to historical events,” Ms. Hernandez explains. The science projects, led my Mr. Caniz, pushed students such as Juan Ignacio, to take responsibility and lead his group to completion. The projects researched local Guatemalan innovations such as “biobardas,” plastic barriers that protect riverbeds. The topic of technological innovations encouraged students to explore further ideas to protect the environment. Mr. Caniz adds, “Something really interesting was that many of our grade 7 students were surprised to find out that in Guatemala, as well as Korea, there are many people who have invented technological innovations that have helped our world.” Leaders emerged from each group and the students worked to their fullest potential. It was a unique experience for our students to share and discuss these topics with their peers across the globe in Korea.

Finally, the farewell activities demonstrated our students’ talent and enthusiasm for their local culture. Each class, from Guatemala and Korea, presented a performance reflecting the history and traditions of our country. Korea presented the traditional Korean sport of Taekwondo and choreographed a modern K-Pop dance. CAS student Ligia played the national instrument of Guatemala, the marimba, while students danced in Guatemalan dress and presented traditional flags. Ms. Hernandez adds, “Marimba music is so beautiful. Guatemalans are very proud of it.” This performance was followed by a skit, the conquest of the Maya by the Spanish invaders in Guatemala, directed by student Luis. These activities featured our students in a personal and fun way, bringing our cultures closer together through art, performance, and music. Overall, the IVECA experience provided our students and teachers at CAS with a memorable and productive experience!

Throughout the IVECA course, our students and teachers made meaningful connections. Connections were made across our middle school curriculum and across the world with our partners and friends in Korea. The IVECA platform facilitated the sharing of our students’ projects; meanwhile, our students practiced their 21st-century technology skills and abilities. The Colegio Americano del Sur 7th grade class was pushed to boundaries of their abilities and talents in a new and exciting way with IVECA.

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