Fletcher 4th Graders Learn More About Malta Through Personal Connections

“Do any of you know what a Euro is?’ asked Everett Nelson, Fletcher Elementary School Universal Prekindergarten teacher.

The fourth graders visiting his room passed the bills around the table.

“It looks like a dollar bill,” said one student.

“That’s right, it’s the currency that Malta uses in its economy.”

Mr. Nelson was speaking with fourth grade students from Ardith Baldwin’s class.  Her students have been corresponding through email with a class of students in Malta whose teacher is Mr. Nelson’s cousin, Aryn Keyel.  Ms. Keyel is on a 10-month Fulbright scholarship and is co-teaching English with Maltese teachers. 

For the past few months, the two classes have emailed questions and answers back and forth through their teachers.  Mrs. Baldwin’s students have written in small groups, answering their Maltese friends’ questions about their school, the weather, their neighborhood, and what subjects they study.  They have written individual information about their interests and the whole class has decided on what questions to ask such as, what are the holidays in Malta? 

Mr. Nelson recently visited his cousin in Malta and shared with Mrs. Baldwin’s class the many photos he took as well as samples of money and maps.  Mr. Nelson’s presentation was a mix of Maltese history, geography, celebrations and living conditions.

“We wanted to create interest in the pen pals by sharing what their environment and homes look like, and stimulate questions about lifestyle, place or history to be exchanged between students—show them all we know, and see what questions come of it, said Mr. Nelson.  “It helps them realize that there are perspectives other than their own.  I would hope this knowledge would help them consider more readily other countries’ needs, tradition and ideas.  It also aids those with more visual learning styles and/or makes abstract ideas more concrete—to literally see what has been described. “

Mrs. Baldwin felt the presentation was a great success.  “Mr. Nelson’s photos were beautiful and we were all amazed how different Malta looks than Jamestown.  Seeing the slides helped students picture what our pen pals’ world is like and will help us ask more informed questions in our next email. “

When asked what he liked about this pen pal experience, Fletcher Elementary School fourth grader, Tavian Grant said, “I like to write to other people to get to know what their culture is like.  On Christmas in Malta, it does not snow and they have parades.” 

Each student in Mrs. Baldwin’s class created a Malta folder where they keep maps, information about Malta and copies of all the pen pal emails. At the end of the year the folders will go home to be shared with parents.

posted on 04/13/2015 - filed under: Academics, Community, ELA, Elementary School, Spotlight, Students, teachers