Hanging Out in Africa
Katie and Corey Garrett’s family lives in Africa, and they have for 15 years. This November, one of their three daughters – a fifth-grade student – got to spend time visiting face-to-face alongside her parents with Loveland Intermediate School (LIS) sixth-grade students, right from their Senegal home!
“We talked with them for 45 minutes about village life, language spoken there, what schools are like; we saw the village from the cell phone and more,” said Kristi Swartz, LIS Teacher.
The tour was made possible thanks to a Google Hangout session – guided by Innovative Instructional Coach Laura Holtkamp. The conversation was a complement to classroom work the students have been involved in through Language Arts; after reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Parks, LIS students participated in a Walk for Water Project – raising money to construct a well in Africa. That’s work the Garrett family has been actively engaged in during their stay in Senegal.
“The family is working on a well project for four villages,” said Swartz. “Presently they have provided water for two villages and have gotten a faucet in the village that residents can come to for fresh clean water. This opportunity let us see first-hand how the water affects real people. We got to see the outside area and see rabbits they raise as well. We got to hear accounts of life in Africa and the challenges villagers face day to day.
“Students further learned to appreciate what we have and often take for granted. I hope to help the students see that their work, such as raising money for the wells in Sudan can affect people's lives directly.”
Swartz said the Google Hangout experience was a result of a parent putting her in contact with the family in Senegal after the Walk for Water Project. Email conversations between LIS students and the Garrett family spurred the idea for the Google Hangout session. Swartz said the lesson was a learning experience for her as an educator, and it has her looking to find more opportunities to show the world to her class.
“Real world understanding is available for our students like never before,” said Swartz. “The more we embrace the technology that connects students to the real world – the more we engage students and create students who see transformation in the world is possible.”
Photo caption: LIS students spent 45 minutes in conversation with a family living in Senegal, Africa, to learn about village life during a Google Hangout session.