Little Tonto Basin School Has Far Reach

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Students at Tonto Basin's sixth- and seventh-grade class with Annetta Carpenter can reach out and touch the world through new technology.

Using a "smart" board, computer and projector, the students are connected with classrooms in Mexico and Canada.

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Computers have connected Tonto Basin students to classes in Canada and Mexico.

In addition to putting Tonto Basin students in touch with classrooms in other countries, the smart board system is used for everything from math warm-up problems to lunch counts, quizzes and geography lessons. There are no papers to copy, pass out and grade, and the computer keeps the scores.

And even doing all that, the system is not working at its full capacity, according to Carpenter

The contact with students in the classrooms of Mexico and Canada are made possible through the system's Connections program from the Smarter Kids Foundation. With traditional pen pal letters and online projects, the students are developing a global view, learning about other cultures and ways of life.

"The class does projects related to our particular area and then we (post) those articles and information to the Connections Web site," Carpenter said. Other classes throughout the world do the same thing.

"We do geography. We do literature studies because we have to do book reviews. We have to do a local news story. We have to compare and contrast between weather and climate, so there is a bit of science," Carpenter said.

And then there are unexpected lessons. In late October the students were to have an online project with students in Canada. But a teachers' strike had closed the schools. The teacher they were working with in Canada came online from her home and the Tonto Basin students talked with her about the strike and, consequently, had a lesson in social studies and politics.

While technology played a big role in the education of Tonto Basin's sixth- and seventh-graders in 2005, the eighth-grade students enjoyed some hands-on work.

Using baking soda, vinegar and Bromthymol Blue solution, straws, twist ties, cups, long-neck bottles and balloons, the students had the opportunity to study greenhouse gasses.

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