For the 2017-2018, the Roche Center and the TWIN-CS community have continued these traditional methods, but have added chances for TWIN-CS teachers to connect in other ways. Two projects have developed so far, having emerged from conversations between teachers, principals, and Roche Staff.
The first project is bringing together children in two very different cities, San Antonio and New York City, specifically Flushing, Queens. The leadership and staff members at both schools were open to the idea of having the children 'meet' through the Zoom.us video conferencing platform. The idea is to show the classrooms and neighborhood of each school, so the students can learn about each other, and places they may not visit anytime soon. Many of the students enrolled in these schools are from households of moderate means, without the time or resources to travel far from home. This modern pen pal experience will enrich their learning and the lives in meaningful ways.
The second project is designed to enhance the professional development offered by the TWIN-CS program, but to make it specific to a grade level and type of student. In many kindergarten classrooms, be they in public schools or parochial, the students arrive with a wide variety of readiness. Some may know their whole alphabet and are able to count to 10, while others have not been read to and can't identify the letters of their own names. Kindergarten teachers are therefore tasked with preparing these students for school, while also sufficiently challenging those who have had formal preschool experiences. The TWIN-CS teachers are doing this momentous task in two languages, making it twice as challenging. Two sets of kindergarten teachers, one in Minnesota and one in Texas, are starting a on-going conversation about best practices by meeting in a video conference setting, again provided by Zoom. They have given tours of their classrooms, their instructional materials, and techniques. The following conversations will build on this initial meeting, and all the teachers involved are excited to meet again.
Follow this blog to hear about the next steps for both of these projects .
-Mary Bridget Burns