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Bringing Cultures Together

Subject:Social Studies, English Language Arts, ESL

Grade Level: 9-12

Description: This webquest project uses technology to bridge the gap between cultures around the world. Students use the website e-pals to connect with students across the globe, write on blogs, and use PowerPoint to create presentations. Webquests are designed for inquiry and are student-centered. Besides gaining a knowledge of another country, students also practice their writing and communication skills via blogging and e-mail communication with students abroad.

How it Works: Students participating in this international project are exposed to many different components of technology: research, blog writing, e-pals, and PowerPoint presentations. After choosing a country, students research and gather information on various topics related to their subject, using templates to help organize their work. They are assigned a student from E-pals.com to e-mail regularly, with hopes of asking questions and learning more about the country's culture, people, and more. The teacher helps set up each E-pal link, contacting the teacher in the appropriate country and linking the student with a student in his/her classroom. Students are also required to create a blog. Here, they use their creative writing skills to take the research they have gathered and incorporate it into three different blog entries. Students imagine that they are on a journey in the country they are researching.

Final Project/Product: Using factual information from their research tied into creative writing, they create a PowerPoint presentation for their final project. Students must produce a minimum of eleven slides, each with specific information on their country, and they make their presentations to the class.

Overall Value: The use of e-pals and blog writing is a great addition to what would otherwise be a typical research project. Students are able to ask questions about the country being researched and get information from a real person, not just another Internet site. In addition, students practice their writing skills through e-mail writing. By creating a blog, they are exposed to a way of communicating that is commonly used throughout the Internet. Students tap into their creative side, and imagine they are actually in the country they are researching. This is great way for students to use the information they collect, connecting it with their research by writing about it in a creative way.

English Language Learners: Students are using language skills throughout this unit. They are writing in various forms and contexts. Students use their new knowledge of English for cross-cultural knowledge and understanding.

Tips for the Teacher: Students may need extra time in setting up with e-pals. In addition, it is helpful to give them a model copy of a blog entry, since some students felt the blog was seen as "lying" rather than creative writing. Once they begin writing, they quickly get involved.



 Standards Addressed
Students listen, speak, read and write in English for information and understanding.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: ESL
Students listen, speak, read and write in English for literary response, enjoyment, and expression.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: ESL
Students listen, speak, read and write in English for critical analysis and evaluation.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: ESL
Students listen, speak, read and write in English for classroom and social interaction.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: ESL
Students emonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and understanding.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: Social Studies
Students apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.
  Grade: 9-12 Subject: Math, Science, and Technology

Cari Gersh


Christopher Columbus High School

Bronx, NY

Cari Gersh has been teaching ESL for the past 7 years. She teaches all levels, grades 9-12. She has the opportunity to teach students from around the world, and embraces the many cultures that make up her classroom. She has also had the opportunity to teach abroad, in Ghana, West Africa. In 2005, she received a grant to travel there to develop a reading and writing program for 30 high school students.

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