Phy Chauveau: Are You Connected?

From Discovery Educator Phy Chauveau:

Are you connected?  Of course you are.  As members of this incredible Discovery Educator Network, we find out every day just how advantageous it is to be connected to one another in order to share wonderful ideas, insights, and educational experiences.  If you are anything like me, your heart actually raced when you first realized the potential of unitedstreaming in your classroom. Today, I’d like to share with you a similarly invaluable online resource that has truly changed the way my students connect with other students around the world.  It’s called the Creative Connections Project, and here’s a little background.  (By the way, in the true spirit of the DEN, there is a free offer coming up, if you read on…)

In June of 1999, while strolling through the exhibitor’s hall at NECC, searching perhaps for another free t-shirt, (…yes, you know you’ve done it,) I was asked if I would be willing to preview an online classroom travel project related to the tropical rainforest.  Would I ever!  It was one of those “too good to be true” moments where curriculum, technology, and good timing all came together. Each spring, my fifth graders studied the rainforests of the world, both temperate and tropical, within the context of a unit entitled “The Endangered Earth.” For the previous two years we had taken part in an online project called MayaQuest, then in its infancy, but sadly, there were just too many technological glitches that we’d encountered.  I was looking for something fresher, more current, and truly interactive.  The technology gods were smiling, and that day I found it. 

Almost seven years have now passed, and what started as a simple online exchange has blossomed into an ongoing collaborative experience that has inspired my students to become citizens of the world.  This is thanks to the work of a remarkable educator named Paul Hurteau, the coordinator of the Creative Connections Project, and certainly one of the most talented, resourceful, intrepid, and tech-savvy educators I have ever met. He is the only teacher I know who has been bitten by a piranha, and to my students’ delight, he tells all in his astoundingly well-written e-journals that the kids can’t wait to read.  Another sure favorite is the “Who Am I” Mystery Animal Gallery, which challenges students to determine the secret identity of indigenous animals through his poetry, that is packed with figurative language.  The solution is always revealed with a marvelous photo of the animal, and a cleverly written behavioral profile. 

These two examples represent just a fraction of what awaits you at the Creative Connections site; I realize that you cannot possibly begin to imagine all of the most relevant options for your students K through 12, nor have I done the site justice, SO…I contacted Paul Hurteau and he has graciously offered Discovery Educators free access to all Creative Connections Project resources through the end of the current school year. 

You will find the Creative Connection Project’s Online Travel Resources by going to www.ccproject.org/ccproject.html
You can also access the newest PowerPoint section by going to www.ccproject.org/china/powerpoint/

For either of these, you will need the following info:
Username: discovery
Password: educator 

Participation options currently include:
    * Online Travel
    * E-mail Q & A Exchanges
    * Student Art Exchanges
    * Class to Class Photo and Info Exchanges
    * PowerPoint Exchanges
    * Music Exchanges
    * Letter Exchanges
    * Video Exchanges
    * Scrapbook Exchanges

Paul noted that CCP will be adding new PowerPoints from different world regions throughout the spring. They will also be posting an exciting new Flash-based resource on the China School Project section called Cultural Profiles of Historic and Modern China, which was sponsored by grants from the Freeman Foundation, The Avery Arts Foundation, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, Inc. While the text is geared towards high school grades, the photo tours, video, and audio will be appropriate for elementary and middle school grades.

As he is the heart and soul of the Creative Connections Project, Paul travels for most of the year to all the countries where he runs virtual exchanges, including Africa, China, South America, Latin America, and the Arctic. (By the way, the Latin America School Project has Spanish and English options.)  He does occasionally fit in school assemblies and will be visiting our school to conduct a series of poetry workshops on April 24. 

Please do visit the CCP website. I am certain that you won’t be disappointed and I’d be especially interested to know if any of you have ever participated in an exchange with this program.

At this point, our four fifth grade classes have participated at various levels in e-mail, art, and video exchanges with students in Central and South America, and in China. Next year, we are hoping to become involved in the newer PowerPoint and music exchanges as well. The wealth of resources available on the Creative Connections site has also inspired our students’ poetry, skit, and song writing, as well as the multimedia presentations projected on twin screens that support our onstage production called “Forest Fest.”  This multi-disciplinary stage production is the culmination for this unit of study, and it has become a rite of passage for students leaving our Lower School each June.  Several years ago, the theme of the production focused on Paul’s adventures in the Amazon.

As a result of fundraising through a “Dance For Mother Earth” dance-a-thon, our fifth grade has funded three years of secondary schooling for a boy in Ecuador at the Instituto Pedagogico in Limoncocha. We were also able to purchase the very first computer and printer for the local elementary school in that village, with whom we had an exchange.  In thanks, the villagers sent beautiful drawings, as well as hand carved model canoes and jewelry as a special thank you.  What a life changing experience this has been for our fifth graders; and it all began with technology.

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2 Comments

  1. RJ Stangherlin said:

    Hi, Phy. Every time I touch base with you, either at workshops or conferences, you make it a wonderful learning experience. You send me links, keep me updated, and supercharge me with new ideas that I can modify for my students. Thank you so much for going where I want to travel and for helping me get started on a new educational venture.

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