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Modern Day Pen Pals, Connecting Our Art Room to the Rest of the World!

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Keywords: Pod Casting, Video Streaming, Art, Pen Pals, Web Cam, Social Skills
Subject(s): Art, Video, Social Skills, Technology, Podcasting, Writing, Photography, Social Studies, Journalism
Grades P-K through 8
School: Fermi Elementary School, Chicago, IL
Planned By: Katie Netti
Original Author: Katie Netti, Chicago
Objective: Students in grades pre-K though 8 will establish communication with an art class in another country. Each grade will choose the culture they want to learn about and Fermi will have 8 “pen pal” connections total. The students will use technology to record video of themselves making art and showing the opposite class about themselves and share it as a pod cast. The students will also use video streaming to have live conversations and questions and answer sessions with the foreign classes.

1.Each class will learn the basics, as age appropriate, for the technology being used. Younger students will serve more as the “actors” in the pod casting and the older students will serve more as directors, video editors and managers of the casts.
2.The 8 classes will choose a separate region to connect to.
3.The art teacher will establish initial communication with a willing class room teacher in the selected regions.
4.The students will meet their opposite class for the first time using video streaming equipment such as a web cam and microphone. During their first encounter they will discuss how they are alike and how they are different. Each student will be buddied up with another student and they will each create a piece of art displaying what they have learned about their new pen pal.
5.After the art making is complete each student will have a chance to explain their art work to the video recorder, and the video editing software will be used to make a pod cast of the artists explanations.
6.The students will then have a chance to continue to learn about their pen pals life, culture, values and beliefs.
7. Each student will maintain a journal throughout the process.
8. Each class will participate in the end assembly sharing with the school what they have learned.

Materials Needed:
Web Cam: to communicate with the other classes.
Digital camcorder: to record students working and displaying their art work.
Video editing software: to put the recorded materials together.
Pod casting software: to display and post the videos made.
Voice recorder: to record the students discussing their creations.
Microphone: to conduct live chats with the opposite class.
Art materials: used for the art making part of the pen pal project.
One journal for each student: to record their thoughts and feelings throughout the process.
Storage devices such as USB Flash Drives or discs: to store materials.
Projector screen: for viewing the pod casts and video streaming chats.
Projector: to project the video streaming and pod casts.
Computer: to host and support all of the above materials.

National Standards Addressed:
1.) Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes:
Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices
2.) Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures:
Students know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures.
Students describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.
Students analyze, describe, and demonstrate how factors of time and place (such as climate, resources, ideas, and technology) influence visual characteristics that give meaning and value to a work of art.
3.) Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others:
Students compare multiple purposes for creating works of art.
Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry.
Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures.
4.) Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines:
Students compare the characteristics of works in two or more art forms that share similar subject matter, historical periods, or cultural context.

This project will be an invaluable part of the curriculum here! The possibilities of the use of the technology are endless. I would be an eye opener for my classes to see how other children live and interpret art concepts. Most students learn and retain quite a bit of knowledge through social interaction and connecting their social skills to international knowledge is a priceless education!
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This activity will be tied into social studies and social sciences as well as having the possibility to be expanded to debate lessons, math leagues, and other competitions in which the students can compete and see how they compare to other area of the world. Writing and literacy will also be a large component of this project as the student will be learning to deal with language barriers and the interpretation of modern word usage.
The students will be required to keep a journal of their thoughts and findings throughout the entire process as well as maintaining a portfolio of their art work and their buddy’s art work. Each class will also be participating in a school wide assembly in which the students present their findings, share their experiences and display their art work for the parents, staff, students and members of the community.
Materials: DVD Camcorder, Point and Shoot, Projector Screens, Digital Voice Recorders, Microphones, Art Tools, Video Tools, Flash/USB Drives, Podcasting, Web Page, Screen Capture, Clip Art, Prof. Dev. Workshops, Autism, Early Learning, Speech and Language