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TeachNet NYC  |  Lesson Plans  |  Teachnet

U.S. - Japan Internet Collaboration

How it works:
The  Japanese-government-sponsored Fulbright Memorial Fund Teachers Program enables teachers to visit Japan and learn about its culture and educational system.  Participants are then eligible to have their school join the Master Teacher Program, which matches U.S. and Japanese schools for a year-long collaboration. Collaborative projects are based on the theme of biodiversity and the study of the environment. In-person teacher visits to the partner schools are followed by joint activities and Internet communications. 

The project components include the week-long visit of the principal and two teachers from the Japanese school partner to the U.S. school in March ( the Japanese school year begins April 1, so the collaboration year follows that calendar); the month-long visit of a U.S. teacher to the Japanese school for a month during the summer; the "BUGS" project collaboration in which students at all 42 Japanese and American schools go outside in the Fall to find out what insects and other arthropods live near them; and an online "daily communication" between U.S. and Japanese students that continues for several months. Every day, one student from each school records the weather and sends a brief message in English along with a digital picture. These messages are entered into a Microsoft Excel worksheet that is then saved as a web page and posted on the respective school websites.

During International Education Week, an International "video lesson" is conducted between classes in the two schools in which the two teachers each conduct part of the lesson and the students participate in the same hands-on science activity and report their results to one another.

Standards addressed:  
This is an integrated studies activity that fulfills standards of science inquiry, understanding of the diversity of life and environmental studies, the use of technology, and international education.
Materials used:
Materials include computers with Internet access for the video conferences, insect collecting and identification materials, stereoscopes and the Intel "Play" digital microscope for taking pictures of the insects, a digital camera and computer camera, a microphone, a digital projector, and a video camera to record activities.

The students:
Mott Hall is a science, math, and technology magnet school for Community School District 6, which serves the North Harlem-Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. It enrolls 450 students in grades four through eight. Seventh grade students participated in this project. Approximately 85 percent of the student population are first- or second- generation immigrants from Latin American, especially the Dominican Republic. Approximately 10% are African Americans. The others are almost all immigrants from other countries. More than 60% of the students are girls.

Overall value:
Internet-based collaboration projects between classes from different backgrounds are win-win activities. Working on projects together breaks down barriers and helps students to see how they are similar to people living in different places as well as having interesting differences. Students are motivated to do a good job on their projects, knowing they will have to report on their results to others. The power of technology to connect students with the rest of the world is demonstrated by this U.S.-Japan Internet Collaboration.

Before starting your class on an Internet-based collaboration, take some time for the teachers to communicate and get to know one another. Explain your time and curriculum and equipment limitations to each other. Don't be too much of a perfectionist -- put the spirit of friendship and collaboration foremost.

About the teacher:
Susan Herzog is a middle school science teacher at the Mott Hall School-IS223. In addition to teaching seventh grade life science, Susan is the Director of Mott Hall-CCNY STARS (Student Apprenticeships In Research), a collaboration between the two schools in which eighth grade students spend three hours a week working with mentors in CCNY Science and Engineering Research laboratories. She has a bachelor's degree and a master's in secondary science teaching from the City College of the City University of New York. She entered teaching as a second career at age 48, has been teaching for nine years, and is a pioneer in the use of the Internet in her school.


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