The Senegal BRIDGE Project will host an Internet-based videoconference between HWS alumni and faculty in Senegal and third grade students in Geneva
(November 6, 2003) Geneva, N.Y. — What better way to garner understanding of another culture, another part of the world, than to chat with people who are there and to see images from that faraway land? Third grade students in Ms. Anne Bergstrom's class at West Street School will have not one but two opportunities to experience that kind of cultural exchange when they videoconference with Hobart and William Smith alumni and faculty in Senegal.
HWS Professors Scott Brophy and Lilian Sherman are in Senegal this week as part of the Senegal BRIDGE project (Bringing Relevant Internet Dialogue to Global Education), funded by a grant to Professor Jim MaKinster from the Independent College Fund of New York/John Ben Snow Memorial Trust Public-Private Collaboration Program. Brophy and Sherman are there to formalize an ongoing connection between the third-grade class and two sister schools in Senegal, so as to enhance existing programming for Senegal BRIDGE that has been in place, with great success, for two years.
Before they left, they met with Bergstrom's class to begin the inquiry-based unit the students will be doing on Senegal. Throughout a three week period, the students will be exploring the culture of Senegal as they make connections among social studies, mathematics, language arts and other areas of their curriculum. Bergstrom and HWS faculty designed a curriculum that enables the third-graders to pose questions and uncover answers about Senegalese people, society and culture via books, the internet and online communications.
The videoconferences serve as the centerpieces to this unit and student questions will guide the activities and investigations of Brophy and Sherman during their time abroad. There will be two videoconferences with the students, one on Friday, Nov. 7, and the second on Monday, Nov. 10. The videoconferences will allow the exchange of information in real time and students will have the opportunity to ask and be asked questions about what they have learned so far. The conferences will include real-time video footage of various locations and people in Senegal, hopefully including Senegalese students. This type of exchange serves as a powerful means to motivate and engage students in learning about other cultures.
The Senegal BRIDGE Project is a collaborative project between Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Geneva City School District, designed to make Geneva's elementary school students more sophisticated users of technology as their critical thinking skills are improved and their awareness of another culture enhanced. They also investigate their own community, and learn to integrate computer use with books, maps, and other instructional material.
This was featured on RNews Rochester on Nov. 11.