Patti: John, We look forward to hearing how you and Barb have been able to integrate her curriculum into your writing activites. This is the challenge that all of us face. Many teachers feel that they just cannot fit one more thing into their curriculum. Maybe Barb will share how she was able to balance the Oil Spill Mystery and her curriculum learner outcomes.

Isamu and I have been building a mini project with our students around the topic of the school playground. It is really an extension of our ongoing effort to bridge language barriers. Ines and her students have now joined us from Argentina. Take a new look:

These are some of the activities that I have been doing with my students as we discuss the playground, the daily school schedule and cleaning the school! ;-)

  1. We made venn diagrams showing the equipment on our 2 playgrounds
  2. We made a student survey to see which pieces of equipment the kids like to play with most
  3. We charted and graphed the survey data
  4. We gathered the enrollment figures by grade for our school and compared them to Isamu's school
  5. We are discussing the issue of cleaning the school. At Isamu's school the students spend time each day cleaning the school
  6. I gave the students maps of the world and also of Japan. We marked Isamu's city on the maps.
  7. We calculated the time in Japan this morning at 10:15 AM our time. It was 11:15 PM in Japan.
  8. Vanessa calculated the average class size for our school and Isamu's school.
On May 1st we will record the temperature in Delmar at 9 AM. Isamu's students will record their temperature in Yamato. We plan to do this for the month of May.

We plan to involve Ines and her students in Argentina in these same activities.

There are so many more things we can do... Of course writing is a big part of each lesson as we write back and forth to each other.

It is almost the Cinderella hour here and I must get to sleep.

I'd love to hear from more of you. I know we are all very busy these days but please take a minute and share your thoughts.

Best wished to Mahenaz and her meetings with teachers in Karachi.


Betty: Hi Team, Patti, I've been checking the "playground" website since the beginning...

I am wondering how high school students could interact in this emerging project.


Patti: Betty, I'm so glad you are following us! When we consider high school kids we are always talking within a content area - art, science, music, math, languages, history, economics, etc. Let me toss out a few ideas keeping in mind that the kids are taking this (we knew they would and wanted them to) beyond the playground and into the school building:

  1. class size? Are smaller classes better? Look at my school classes and Isamu's. His are so much bigger. Yet... every student I see coming from Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, etc. are bright, motivated students. How do they do it?
  2. Topic for discussion: should kids clean the school?
  3. economics class: design a school playground, plan a fund raiser itemize what would be purchased and why. Discuss safety. Those merry-go-rounds are a "headache!" ;-)
  4. Compare school playgrounds around the world. Do most elementary schools have them? What equipment do you find on them? The kids in Argentina don't want to talk about their playgrounds. One child said they don't have much on them. Their teacher said they didn't want to write about their playgrounds. Are they embarrassed? I need to talk to my kids about this. The kids in Argentina want to tell us about the floods they are having instead.
  5. Children and play... You could get into the whole topic of Child labor in third world countries - who made those soccer balls our kids are playing with on the playground? - young kids in sweat shops? There is much high school kids can sink their teeth into here.
  6. organized games on the playground? Design a plan where older kids would play with younger kids and help organize games. Kids seem to run around and make their own "games" these days. When I was a kid in elementary school the older students played (monitored) dodge ball with us. We loved recess time. We had races, etc. Today teachers stand around and make sure kids aren't getting hurt but no one runs organized games with them. That takes place in gym class.
I'm sure we could brainstorm more ideas.

KIDFORUM is running a topic "My Own School" right now. The discussion questions for this are excellent:

I hope this gives you some ideas, Betty. What class do you have in mind? (content area?)

Time for my cup of coffee... ;-) The sun came up while I was sitting here.

Thinking more about Betty's question...

Here are more topics that could be discussed with kids on middle and high school levels:

  1. safety in schools -
    • presence of drugs
    • respect for life (look at the recent horrifying events in Arkansas and Pennsylvania where students and teachers have been shot and killed in US classrooms!)
  2. parent involvement in our schools
There is a KIDLINK module that was prepared for a European school project and one of the topics is about school:

Look at the lesson for Week 7.

Dashing out the door to school........!