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Local Students Partner with School in Australia for Global Good


Collaborative learning effort part of new technology program at St. Patrick School.

Arroyo Grande, CA (PRWEB) October 31, 2012

A world of possibilities emerge when a class of fifth grade students are given iPads, Skype and the ability to dream up a project. That's just what teachers Trisha Ainsworth and Glenn Loayza are proving. The two teach fifth grade and technology, respectively, at St. Patrick School in Arroyo Grande, CA.

Last year, the school launched a new technology program that brought iPads into the curriculum for students from kindergarten to eighth grade as part of the students' development of 21st Century Learning Skills. As the school's new technology teacher, Loayza sees a world of potential.

“We got our fifth grade students engaged by giving them the opportunity to learn how to use iPads, but also by exposing them to another part of the world,” Loayza said. He made a connection with an educator in Australia. Ena Lakishort is a technology coordinator for Fairfield West Primary School in Fairfield, a suburb of Sydney. Together they developed a learning program that started with the classes playing “Mystery Skype,” where they Skyped and ask each other yes or no questions to determine where each group was located. The students first had to learn more about their own communities so they could give clues. Then, accommodating a 14-hour time difference and using iPads and atlases to do research, they discovered the location – and a lot more – about their counterparts down under.

“The excitement in the room was palpable,” Loayza said. “The kids were charged up and working together to discover clues and solve the mystery.”

Currently, the students in the two schools have been matched up and are creating their own mini autobiographies to share with their distant counterparts and build real relationships while learning about their cultural differences. They will use iPads, a Storykit app and a site called “Edmodo,” which enables students and teachers to collaborate and share information while creating projects.

The final phase of the project is still in the formulation stage, but the schools will collaborate on a global service-learning project. Sixth grade teacher Dale Heterick at Fairfield West Primary School is leading this effort, however, teachers from both schools have been sharing ideas to create an idea that is rich and meaningful for the students.

The project will focus on the shared ocean and explore ways for each class to protect the coastline, the sea and marine life. The students will work to create a plan to put conservation efforts in place.

“So far, this has been an amazing process,” said Lakishore. “We live in similar climates and communities. This will be an experience our students will never forget.”

St. Patrick School is located in Arroyo Grande and will be celebrating their 50-year anniversary from January through June 2013. The school is actively utilizing technology throughout the school and is on the forefront of local schools incorporating both PC and Apple labs for its students. In addition, students are actively engaged with iPads, student response systems, and Interactive White Board technology. The first kindergarten class to use iPads was the 2011-2012 class.

“These Kindergartners entered first grade this year with high reading levels,” St. Patrick School Principal Maureen Halderman said. “We plan to continue to study their progress and determine if the added technology was a contributing factor to their success.”

Halderman added that the technology element is one piece of a well-rounded curriculum that encourages reading and excites the students about learning.

For more information on St. Patrick School or this program, please call (805) 489-1210 or visit

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