STEAMed Magazine January 2016 - Page 35

One of the greatest lessons teachers will teach their students is to love and respect one another despite differences. This is especially true for students with special needs as they on a daily basis are reminded of their differences in many different ways. In a new global project students are working on this year “SMARTee the Project,” this is drastically changing, and the focus has shifted from what makes students different to what makes kids all the same. Students from around the world are collaborating and learning about one another as well as teaching one another in a global collaboration project and the first of its kind called “SMARTee the Project.” Within the project students are using various forms of technology with the biggest emphasis on SMARTamp to communicate, teach one another, and learn about other countries as well as new topics through various cultural viewpoints. Students are able to communicate in real time through writing, drawing, making videos, and sharing about a topic through Skype, SMARTamp, and E-books. Within the project students are working on their individualized education plan goals (IEP), as well as their grade level curriculum goals. Not only are students practicing academic and individual skills, but they are learning to apply concepts in real time on real world problem based learning. In the project five countries are represented with a total of six participating classes with their teachers: Jörgen Holmberg (Finland), Lotta Ramqvist (Sweden), Staci Kinsler Gelbaum (Georgia, USA), Carla Pinho Vieira (South Africa), Brianna Owens (New Mexico, USA), and Stefan Schwarz (Germany). Students are learning about their own countries then reporting out to teach the other students what they have learned. Students in New Mexico, USA, for example, learned all about their state’s International balloon fiesta held in October and then taught other students in other countries about the topic. All students in the project have various special needs from autism, to hearing loss, to learning disabilities and various other needs. For some, collaboration is a very difficult thing; SMARTee traveled with Micah and his family to West however through the project students are learning important Palm Beach, Florida to celebrate Thanksgiving. communication and social skills that would not otherwise be possible. Teacher Jörgen Holmberg from Finland notes, “Many students have problems to collaborate with the student sitting next to them- perhaps it’s easier to collaborate with the student sitting in another country.” Students using the technology are able to connect with one another in a safe and noninvasive way. And through sharing similar learning goals and a purpose of teaching others and answering real world questions, students are less focused on the anxiety of communication and socialization and are more focused on writing and talking with others. STEAMed Magazine 35 January 2016 Edition