Success stories from abroad: Connecting classrooms with Bridgit conferencing software
By Danuta Anna Borzecka,
SMART Education Consultant, Poland
Katarzyna Rasiewicz, an English teacher at The Music School Complex in Torun, in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region of Poland, has used SMART products for almost seven years. Not only does she use a SMART Board interactive whiteboard in her classroom on a daily basis, but she also trains her colleagues and future English teachers to use SMART products.
In 2010, the local authority in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region installed SMART Board interactive whiteboards and SMART software, including Bridgit conferencing software, at primary schools. Katarzyna was asked how she thought Bridgit could best be used in her classes. Since her students are part of the European Union’s Comenius Program, which promotes an understanding of European cultures, languages and values, she thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with partner schools around Europe, including a school from the UK and a school from Valdagno, Italy.
Katarzyna suspected Bridgit software would give her young students, who range from first- to third-grade, a wonderful opportunity to see how easy it is to communicate with peers from all over the world. And she was proven right.
The students were initially astonished by the idea of talking to others their age from so far away. At first, they were concerned about the language barrier, asking, “How are we going to talk with other students from Italy? Do they speak Polish?” Katarzyna quickly assured them that they would all be speaking English to communicate with each other.
And once the students began using Bridgit, all their language concerns disappeared. These students in Poland may not yet understand the importance of global communication, but they know that Friday’s – the day they work with their peers from Italy and the UK – is a very important part of their week. For each session, teachers and students prepare exercises for their peers from the other countries. Some students have even had the chance to speak individually and introduce themselves to the other classes.
In the future, many other schools in the Comenius program – from countries as varied as Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain – offer even more connections for Katarzyna and her students to explore. Katarzyna would also like to prepare a collaborative lesson with schools from the United States to help her students understand the differences between hemispheres.
Projects such as this one show the important role SMART products can play in learning about other languages and cultures. Katarzyna’s students now know that working and collaborating with peers thousands of miles away is possible and fun. For educators, using Bridgit software in this way represents great pedagogical innovation. And for these students, it’s the best part of every Friday.