Eastern Cape primary learners win trip to United State of America (USA)
22 Jun 2009
Six learners from Eastern Cape, ranging from grade 3 to grade 6 have won a trip to the USA by jointly designing and producing a winning website in the ThinkQuest Narrative Competition.Their winning website is for an imaginary company organising tourists' visits to the Eastern Cape.
Learners from Cotswold Preparatory in Port Elizabeth and from Stirling Primary in East London teamed up to create a website that won them First Place worldwide in the "12 and under" division of the international ThinkQuest Narrative Competition.The annual competition which attracted 1 200 teams from 26 countries this year requires teams of up to six learners to create websites of educational value.The best entries are included in the ThinkQuest Library one of the most visited educational information resources on the internet.
The team consists of Lithemba* and Luzuko, both in grade 3 at Cotswold Preparatory; and four learners from Stirling Primary; Tristan, Ashley and Kai in grade 5 and Holly in grade 6.Their backgrounds are very different.Two speak isiXhosa at home, two speak English, one speaks Mandarin to his parents and one speaks Afrikaans.
Three are South Africans, but one is American, one British and one Taiwanese.Some come from wealthy two-car families; others come from townships and use public transport to come to school.ThinkQuest encourages and rewards such collaboration across social and cultural lines.
To the digitally illiterate the question immediately arises: "How can two learners in Port Elizabeth and four learners in East London work together as a team?"The short answer: "Internet."
The learners made use of the ThinkQuest Project Tools which allow collaboration between learners in different locations.In the case of the "Roaring to Exploring Touring Company" they used the ThinkQuest Project space and tools not only to create their own website, but also to communicate with each other and gather information.
The ThinkQuest Project environment was created by Oracle Education Foundation with the needs of the 21st century learner in mind and is provided free of charge to participating schools.One of its most important features is that it is safe.Access is limited to approved educators and to learners who have been approved by those educators.
It provides simple, easy to learn tools to create an attractive website but equally important, allows learners from different schools or different countries or continents to communicate and collaborate with each other.In the case of the Tour Company they also made good use of most of the other features such as voting and opinion surveys.
*In keeping with ThinkQuest child safety rules, only first names are given.
Both team coaches, Claire Dean and Brenda Hallowes are enthusiastic users of technology in teaching and learning. Claire Dean has been involved with technology in education for longer than she is prepared to admit."I always enjoy a challenge," she explains."I just love the interactive tools such as discussion boards, debate and voting tools.They add an extra dimension of real life scenarios to a project with immediate feedback."They both attended a workshop at the Oracle 21st Century Institute where they were introduced to the ThinkQuest Project Tools and the opportunities for collaborative work they offered.When the ThinkQuest Narrative Competition was announced in January, they saw an opportunity to teach their learners 21st century skills while involving them in an interesting and challenging project.The fact that the website they created would be included in an online library that would be visited by thousands of learners every day was an extra bonus.
"Selecting a team was a difficult choice," explains Coach Claire Dean."I had a long list of possible candidates but eventually I had to choose two boys and two girls who were available on a Wednesday afternoon.Many of our learners have other commitments during the afternoons."
Assistant coach, Brenda Hallowes, picked learners who were competent and old enough to participate."Neither Lithemba nor Luzuko have computers at home, but teaming up with the grade 5 and 6 learners in East London was just the opportunity we needed."
The team had a brainstorming session to select the topic and then used the voting tool on ThinkQuest Projects to decide on a name and a logo.Visit http://library.thinkquest.org/09jan-oracle-n-001/00218/ to see the results.Once a theme had been selected and tasks had been allocated to different team members, time management and not distance was the biggest problem.Team members solved this by helping each other by working before school, after school, during the holidays and on public holidays.
The diversity of the team contributed to the end product.The township learners found it difficult to conceptualise that in some countries you have to drive on the wrong side of the road, but they could contribute to pedestrian safety from experience."One boy drew the picture to show one has to cross at a zebra crossing", adds Claire Dean.
Each member of the team, including the coaches, will receive a laptop computer.However, the most exciting part is that they will fly to San Francisco to attend "ThinkQuest Live" - the awards function to receive their prizes in person.As all are still of primary school age they will be allowed to bring along one parent as chaperone.All as guest of the Oracle Education Foundation who will pay for flights, accommodation, etc.
"We are feeling overwhelmed", explains Brenda Hallowes."The boys have never travelled far and now it is suddenly a big wide world out there!"
They will spend five days in San Francisco and have the opportunity to visit Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge and take part in exciting workshops and interesting activities.
"We are looking forward to their visit," said Clare Dolan, Vice President of Oracle Corporation Citizenship."These students developed skills that are critical for success in the 21st century while producing outstanding educational resources that will benefit their peers globally.The Oracle Education Foundation is please to recognise the outstanding achievements of all the students who participated."
Issued by: Department of Education, Eastern Cape Provincial Government
22 June 2009
Source: Department of Education, Eastern Cape Provincial Government (http://www.ecdoe.gov.za/)
Issued by: Eastern Cape Provincial Government
22 Jun 2009
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