Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Guest Post: Beyond the Walls of our Classroom

The following post is a guest post from Zion's fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Kara Cornejo. Her fifth grade class just completed an exciting Skype session with Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Les Hannah from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

My 5th grade class is studying Native Americans in Social Studies. I searched the internet for weeks looking for a Native American or Native American school/class that would be willing to skype with my class. After coming up empty handed I finally turned to Twitter and my PLN for some advice. Why I didn’t do this sooner I have no clue. After tweeting for help, @billgx, a fellow tweeter, passed on the email and skype name of someone who he thought might be able to help me.

I immediately sent out an email asking for some advice or help Dr. Hannah could offer me. After sending a couple emails back and forth and doing a little research myself I found out that Dr. Hannah is a professor and Fulbright Scholar of the Cherokee Language and Cherokee Studies Programs at NSU in Tahlequah, OK. Not only does he teach about the Cherokee heritage he is a Cherokee Indian. I knew I had hit the jackpot.

Dr. Hannah agreed to talk with my students over Skype about the Cherokee way of life, traditions, and their beliefs. We told him what we learned from our textbook and he would tell us if the Cherokee agree or disagree with it. We learned that most of what our textbook teaches us is not what Native Americans grow up believing about their heritage. He talked with us for about an hour and each one of my students had the opportunity to ask him a question. Not only did we get the privilege to meet Dr. Hannah, we also had the opportunity to meet two of his students who also talked with us, one of which who is a professional basket weaver in the Cherokee Nation. Dr. Hannah proceeded to tell us that she is very famous in the Cherokee Nation; it would be like meeting the president (but in the Cherokee Nation). We were amazed.

What a great opportunity my students had to not only learn about the Native American culture but to meet such amazing people and bring that culture into our classroom. Things we would have never had the opportunity to do if it wasn’t for Twitter and Skype.

Follow Kara on twitter

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