From Wisconsin to Rwamagana...
Results and learning outcomes from classroom collaborations 7,000 miles apart.

Overview

Throughout the 2018 school year, students from the United States and Rwanda came together and created a full digital classroom collaboration in Belouga. The schools involved in this program were De Pere Middle School from De Pere, Wisconsin and Rwamagana Lutheran School from Rwamagana, Eastern Rwanda.

A total of 95 students participated in the program ranging in age from 12-18 years old. The goal of the program was to introduce foreign cultures to students, identify similarities and differences and ultimately create an opportunity for all students to work together on similar curriculum requirements. Although their schools were over 7,000 miles apart, the experience provided students with the opportunity to connect, communicate and collaborate as if they were sitting within one classroom.

ABOUT THE REGIONS

Rwamagama, Rwanda

Population: 310,238
Average GDP: $765.20 USD
Primary Schools: 114
Primary Students: 62,747
Primary Teachers: 1,012
Secondary Schools: 71
Secondary Students: 23,286
Secondary Teachers: 682

Wisconsin, United States

Population: 5.795 million
Average GDP: $47,266 USD
Primary Schools: 1,310
Primary Students: 413,342
Primary Teachers: 27,756
Secondary Schools: 887
Secondary Students: 446,788
Secondary Teachers: 29,795

DePere School, Wisconsin, USA

DePere Middle School

618 students, 42 teachers, over 4,200 students in district.

The school is located in a suburb about 150 miles from the capital city, Madison.

School/teacher priority needed (relate away from access to technology).

Rwamagana School, Rwanda

Rwamagana Lutheran School

136 students, 15 teachers, and 7 staff members.

The school is located in a small village about 35 miles from the capital city, Kigali.

The school has four computers total, along with a limited internet budget. Teachers make it a priority to offer classes to students on technology and English.

Program Introduction

The program was broken down into four stages utilizing the Belouga methodology CLAI and lead by a teacher at each school; Cara Krebsbach from De Pere Middle School and Meredith Bolen from Rwamagana Lutheran School.

Curiosity

Learn

Take Action

Impact

UNPACKING THE SDGs

Belouga shares the vision of the United Nations and the adopting States by actively promoting the Agenda 2030 to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. Through Belouga, students and educators learn cultural diversities, expanding horizons and knowledge on relevant themes.

This strategy provides students with an opportunity to not only learn from their peers around the world, but to take action towards global sustainability together.

UNPACKING THE SDGs

This is formulated through 5 points of sustainability:

1. PEOPLE

95 students from the United States and Rwanda got connected through Belouga. Students learned from each other and their new knowledge of dierent cultures and geographies can have a second hand impact on the 750+ students in both schools and thousands of people in their own communities.

2. PLANET

Specific themes on environmental protection were discussed among the students, highlighting the major risks factors of each community and potential solutions. A joint message of importance of protecting our planet was shared afterwards with both communities to increase awareness on those themes.

3. PROSPERITY

Both students from Rwanda and Wisconsin reported an extremely positive experience and how the Belouga program has changed their perspective igniting a global approach to learning.

4. PARTNERSHIP

De Pere Middle School, Rwamagana Lutheran School and Belouga's alliance strengthens synergies and complementaries for greater social impact regionally and globally.

5. PEACE

Fostering peaceful societies, the experience reported by the local teachers demostrated how the program changed the students' perspective.

Curiosity

Each teacher then used six questions to gauge student knowledge and focus areas relating to the other region. These questions were the following:

What do you think their community looks like?

What do you think they like to eat for lunch?

What do you think they do on weekends?

What do you think the children do for fun?

What do you think their school looks like?

What holidays do they celebrate?

Curiosity

Student responses to these questions varied across the board, but were eye-opening to all participants.

What do you think their community looks like?

DPMS Student Response
"I think it looks like it is grassy with animals wandering around."

RLS Student Response
"They live in a community where people are busy with their lives, everybody only cares about their things."

What do you think the children do for fun?

DPMS Student Response
"Probably sports such as soccer and basketball. Maybe video games sometimes or board games. Maybe watch TV or hangout with friends."

RLS Student Response
"I think the children play outdoor games and throw yearly parties like prom for senior graduates. Oh! I also think they play lots of board games."

What do you think they like to eat for lunch?

DPMS Student Response
"Cow and pig. Food like what we eat."

RLS Student Response
"They like to eat for lunch in order to grow up very well and do different activities after lunch because without eating you can do nothing."

Curiosity

What do you think their school looks like?

DPMS Student Response
"I think the school is really small and there could be less classrooms."

RLS Student Response
"I think their school is large, having classroom blocks, locker halls and dormitories and a huge garden."

What do you think they do on weekends?

DPMS Student Response
"Work on the house chores and play a little bit but mostly work."

RLS Student Response
"In the weekends they do different activities such as washing clothes, having general cleaning and play different games."

What holidays do they celebrate?

DPMS Student Response
"They might celebrate birthdays and christmas but I don't think halloween or easter."

RLS Student Response
"Independence day, Children’s day and Women’s Day."

Curiosity

Following the initial questions and prior to connecting, Cara and Meredith sent each other a brief introduction on their own respected regions, which was then shared with the other class's students.

Learn

Cara and Meredith’s classes were then connected in Belouga, and all of their students were paired with a partner student from the other teacher's class. Once paired, students were able to compare their profiles and communicate directly through chat messaging on each profile question.

Learn

Students' focus areas throughout the initial connection stage were broken down into the following areas.

DPMS Students

RLS Students

Learn

From simple everyday communication, barriers were broken down, which presented an ideal opportunity for the students to now learn together. And what better topic to discuss than food!

Both classes participated in the Belouga Deep Dive Series: Dig In! Food Around the World. Students who were previously connected were able to discuss the series in their Belouga profiles and share their own responses to all missions throughout the series. Cara and Meredith were able to monitor the students' work from their own profiles, and then put together a classwide discussion recapping the series and the answers from both classes.

Action

One student mission in the series was

"How can we provide a sustainable food source to all citizens around the world by the year 2050?"

Action

DPMS Student Responses:

- We need to come up with more sustainable food sources that are able to be used around the world, and find people who are hungry so that we can give them some food and money so that they don’t have to worry much about finding food for some time. If we can figure out a system so that no family is hungry, then that will be a great thing.

- Maybe have sustainable amounts. Like a certain amount of food depending on how much you weigh or how old you are. This may help, because now people won’t get obese and then people all over the country can have the food, that we aren’t over eating or even throwing away. If people want to stop diabetes from happening then we need to cut back on all the junk food, I mean sweets every once in a while is great but not everyday for every meal.

RLS Student Responses:

- We can provide sustainable food in the world if we reduce amount of food wastage all over the world. We can provide sustainable food if we reduce human activities such as industries. Industries release smokes which result in the global warming and this will lead the desertification to some areas. So there will be no agricultural activities since some areas because deserts. This will lead hunger. But if we fight against global warming there will be sustained food around the world.

- We can provide a sustainable food to all citizen by using: irrigation where there are not enough water, using well selected seeds which can be planted, fertilizers to use the fertilizers to increase the production, and mechanization to use machines to increase production.

Impact

Belouga enters into the PISA framework by providing tangible tools within the online platform with clear indicators to easily assess how students are performing on Global Competences.

Impact

The program was broken down into four stages utilizing the Belouga methodology CLAI and led by a teacher at each school; Cara Krebsbach from De Pere Middle School and Meredith Bolen from Rwamagana Lutheran School.

Impact

Throughout the collaboration, the Belouga Impact was seen in three separate areas of education; students, teachers and schools.

Students

Looking from the outside-in, students initially felt as though their connections were much different than themselves based strictly on an unfamiliarity with that region and culture. Following the program, students in both regions were able to acquire a unique connection to another part of the world by identifying similarities and embracing differences with their connections. This also provided students with an opportunity to reflect on their own culture and feel pride in their traditions and community.

Meredith Bolen

Rwamagana Lutheran School

"As the Deep-Dive continued with Cara’s class, my students became more and more invested in the Belouga experience. My students requested to send a video composed of Traditional Cooking methods to Cara’s class and create a video of Modern Cooking to coincide with the Food Deep Dive we were learning about together. The Deep Dive series was particularly enlightening for my students’ level of understanding, engagement, and excitement for the program of Belouga."

Impact

Teachers

Throughout the program, Cara and Meredith corresponded weekly via email, conference calls and messaging on Belouga. This gave them the opportunity to share ideas on the program and better understand how to create an experience that benefited each others’ students. Similar to their students building global connections, Cara and Meredith were able to grow their personal learning network, understand global education goals and requirements and now have a resource overseas to continue collaborating with.

Cara Krebsbach

De Pere Middle School

"Meredith and I shared responses from our classes and tried to facilitate the same types of activities and discussions with our students. It was neat to see my students compare their thoughts and responses to Ms. Bolen’s students’ responses."

Impact

Schools

Both De Pere Middle School and Rwamagana Lutheran School are now pillars in the Belouga global network, making it easier for Belouga and others to develop and deliver meaningful relationships and projects to their schools and communities. Through this program, the schools now have a foundation to base future global connections on and implement key strategies for the 21st century such as digital citizenship and technology skills.

Cara

"Digital citizenship has become an important component to learning in my school and Belouga provided my students a safe and structured platform to form global connections. It allowed me the perfect avenue to discuss and teach what it means to be respectful and responsible in our interconnected digital world."

"Typically, this led to great classroom discussion about the similarities and differences of kids from different parts of the world."

Meredith

"Belouga has been a great opportunity for my school, particularly the teachers and staff, to assess the level of technology used in the classrooms on a day-to-day basis and how to improve the process."

"Since Belouga has started at the school, a computer sign-up has been instituted on a weekly basis in order to ask teachers to inform everyone when they will be using certain computers and at what times for everyone to have a chance to use technology in as many of their classes as possible along with encouraging teachers to plan ahead of time."

Continuous Learning

The most important aspect of the entire collaboration between De Pere Middle School and Rwamagana Lutheran School was the lasting impression it will leave on the students who were able to walk away from the experience with a direct connection to a region of the world they previously knew little to nothing about. The students are now able to stay connected and continue sharing ideas and learning from one another over time in the Belouga platform. They have also built valuable communication, empathy and digital competency skills that ignite them as an individual and can be used outside of the Belouga platform. This is the core ethos of Belouga called emotional equity; having a direct personal investment in another culture, religion, race or ideology, and with that feeling connected.

Cara

"Belouga opened my students' eyes to another part of the world. In doing so, they learned about other people in a personal way which made it more meaningful. Students shared that at the end of this experience and connecting with students from another part of the world, they realized that sometimes people might make incorrect or unfair assumptions about another culture or group of people simply because they don’t know enough about them."

"My students felt that this experience gave them the opportunity to change those assumptions because they were able to connect with students and learn about them in a more personal way. Belouga broadened my students’ perspectives and connecting with others on a global level was an enriching learning experience."

Meredith

"Belouga has been able to provide my students a more realistic understanding of other cultures like the United States of America. Rather than idolizing the culture and students due to lasting effects of colonialism in Rwanda, my students were able to reach beyond the assumptions they had about multiple cultures and better understand that their lives are not so different from other teenagers in other countries."

"Belouga for my students has given a non-intimidating opportunity to practice their English skills in a fun way inside and outside of the classroom."

Interested in learning more about Global Collabrations?