What is the problem you are attempting to address?
5th - 10th graders' lack of awareness of global issues, especially in the case of American children.
The rationale here:
• Most kids (esp. American 5th - 10th graders) are known for their
- sense of entitlement
- narrow world view
- stereotypical outlook
• To overcome this, kids need exposure to what pertains in other peoples' cultures, economies and environments
• Kids are presently not getting enough education in this direction through the school system
• The general availability of technology (esp. internet) SHOULD be helping with this problem but it seems to just make kids more myopic
• Kids therefore need some direction to help them use the technology they have available to "look more outwardly" by engaging in collaborative activities with their counterparts from other cultures.
What are the different approaches you are considering in thinking about this problem?
• pen-pal-like documentary activities
• global activity, where an individual student's story is sent abroad and viewed by a school community
• focus of documentaries (narratives) changes as the student gets older, starting from a "personal economics" perspective to a "community life" perspective over 5 years. Students work on a new documentary each year.
• topics may also range from health issues to environmental issues, materialism and wealth, but mostly civic topics ranging from the personal to the local community
• documentaries can be presented in different ways. some examples: played in school lobbies, screened for smaller audiences in libraries (teachers can tie activities to the viewing), or digital spaces in classrooms ("theaters of engagement" where international students can give a live introduction to their media and engage in a dialogue with students (as much as language permits).
• doc viewing and doc creating activities are separate. schools can engage them differently (in-school, extracurricular), but "qualifying schools" (schools whose students consistently produce materials) are eligible to have their students qualify for an international competition. winners are sponsored to travel to the destination where their docs have been shown for 5 years. (I'm elaborating on the lunch discussion a bit here...)
• viewing audiences rate the doc according to "surprisingness," "interestingness," "technical beauty," "depth," etc.
• school activities reflect on the meaning and understanding of the content of the documentaries, and post-viewing discussions can focus around documentary-making activities
• distribution of camera phones and on-board editing tools seen as a solutions to challenging geographical areas around the world (hey, we could really focus in on this as a tech-centered solution – what about phone software that would allow for lightweight editing and voiceover work? and then the user could send it to a central database with geographic information conveyed by the school account/GPS on the phone? regional project coordinators could help create subtitles)
• school-based archives would be created locally and at a single destination school. (the videos would not be shared widely and would not be subject to further distribution to help protect some of the privacy rights of students and families)
• music can be a powerful part of all this, and as most high school kids are addicted to ipods & music in general, they will be asked to make their own MTV-style music videos to get kids more interested. If they look at their final product as some sort of MTV video - except we'll call it GTV, for Global TV?? -- maybe that will spark interest... Maybe we can ask them to select a song that highlights the issues they're going to be addressing in the video or maybe they can work with the subject to find a piece of music from the other person's culture.
Describe the ways in which your team is being creative in its process
- Collectively looking at the problem from different perspectives
- Brainstorming to generate many ideas
- Prescribing different solutions based on individual and collective experiences
- Analyzing possible solutions to see which are most appropriate and/or most feasible
- Discussions over lunch - sharing experiences etc.
- Reflection - "Aha" Moments
Brian, Skye, Erin, Stephen, Ellen