Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

5th Grade Connections from Russia

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 06.09.16

Petaluma High School’s Julia Fox is an American Field Service exchange student. For most of the 2015-16 school year, Julia has lived in Krasnador, a large city in southern Russia. She leveraged her experience to support 5th grade students in Sonoma County learning about world geography and other cultures. Over the course of this year, Julia has been in communication Geri Brown’s 5th grade class at Olivet School. This blog post offers insights into communication between Julia and the 5th grade class where technology has supported real time interaction and learning.

Julia made contact with Olivet’s 5th grade teacher Geri Brown through a local social studies initiative.  Geri felt that having students make connections with Julia would support a number of student learning goals including: world geography, global citizenship, and 21st century learning.  

Julia agreed to work with Geri’s class on three different occasions through real time Skype calls.  Julia created an initial electronic survey to get a sense of what Geri’s 5th grade students knew about the geography, culture and history of Russia.  The real time connections between Julia and Geri’s class happened where Julia shared artifacts, maps, pictures, and experiences from Russia.  Julia responded to student curiosity about life in Russia including language, food, recreation and music.  The Skype meetings prompted student writing on a range of topics.  After the last Skype meeting, Julia administered another survey to document learning from the class. Julia and Geri agree the project was worthwhile.  Students appreciated learning about world geography, other cultures and found inspiration from Julia going to a different part of the world and being away from her family for 11 months!

Julia will be coming back to Petaluma on June 29th.  Read about Julia’s experiences in Russia through her blog:

Blog: Technology for Learners