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Integration of Cultural Diversity and Technology: Learning by Design

Judy Lambert and Tony Sanchez

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  • List equipment at all sites and check for compatibility.
  • Share IP or ISDN numbers (whichever is needed) and a separate phone line where an individual at each site can be contacted if problems arise on the day of conference.
  • Agree and record dates of testing.
  • Discuss what features of the conferencing software you will use: audio, video, whiteboard, etc.
  • Install and test all software and hardware to be used.
  • Plan the protocol at each site. For example, who will lead the session? Who will talk when? Where will speakers stand?
  • Develop mutual backup plan in the case of equipment failure.
  • Schedule practice sessions to TEST Equipment the week before and the day before the conference.
  • Schedule practice sessions with participants.
  • Agree to connect at least 15 min. before actual conference.


  • Call technician or other experienced teacher who might help connect on the day of the conference.

  • Test video equipment.

  • Consider how you will set up the room (background, cameras, clock, etc.)

  • PRACTICE and TEST on agreed dates.


  • Arrange the room.

  • Check audio, video, lighting, auxiliary equipment (camcorder, etc.).

  • Preview local camera angle and preset angles.

  • Write down and have handy ISDN/IP numbers. and telephone numbers.

  • Share your expectations with participants.

  • Have presenters stand and practice. Record their appearance in front of camera for review.

  • Do one complete practice session with all participants and note any changes that need to be made.


  • On the day before the conference have all equipment ready (computer, cameras, photos, props, cue cards, tape on floor for presenter, etc.) and arrange room.

  • Make connections at least 15 minutes early.

  • Perform checks of audio and video.

  • Use the camera to scan all participants.

  • Introduce participants.

  • Follow agenda and keep things flowing.

  • Watch clock and end the conference at the agreed upon time.

  • Remember to thank all participants before disconnecting.


  • Have evaluations completed by participants, other attendees, and yourself.

  • Review evaluations and note any changes you want to make for future conferences.

Write Summary of Project and Send to all Interested Parties

  • Prepare a summary of events and send to interested parties, such as principal, PTO, local Superintendent, Board of Education, newspaper, granting organizations, etc.

  • Include positive outcomes, photos, evaluation summation, and money spent. Remember, these are the people from whom you want future support!

  • Send thank you letters to all people who gave some type of support: financial, volunteer, participation, running errands, loan of equipment or materials, etc.


Videoconference Project Initial Checklist

    1. Choose Team Members and Brainstorm Ideas
    2. Create Tentative Plans
    3. Find a Partner Class
    4. Send Initial Correspondence
    5. Agree and Write Down Final Plans and Dates
    6. Continue Ongoing Correspondence
    7. Share Technical Issues with all Site Facilitators
    8. Get Equipment and Connections Ready
    9. Test Connections
  10. Rehearse Videoconference
  11. Have Videoconference
  12. Complete Evaluations
  13. Review Evaluations and Record Future Changes Needed
  14. Write Summary of Project and Send to all Interested Parties


Videoconference Checklist
Date of Conference: ______________________________
Time: _________________________________________
Purpose: ______________________________________
Far End ISDN numbers: ___________________________
Far End telephone number: ________________________
Local ISDN numbers: _____________________________
Local phone number: _____________________________
Technical contact: _______________________________
 To do well in advance:
_____ practice using equipment
_____ prepare lesson plan and materials and obtain copyright clearance if necessary
_____ schedule a date and time for the videoconference
_____ arrange for remote facilitators, guest speakers, technical support, etc.
_____ reserve equipment/room
_____ consider how you will set up the room (background, cameras, clock, etc.)
_____ schedule a bridge-- for more than two sites (multipoint)
_____ develop a back-up plan in case of technical problems
_____ schedule a practice session
 One week prior to conference:
_____ share your expectations with participants
_____ make sure the remote site has necessary materials
_____ share ISDN and telephone numbers and determine who will place the call
_____ find out who to contact if there are problems
_____ practice with remote facilitators
_____ decide what to wear (avoid loud patterns, red, & white)
Day of Conference:
_____ arrange the room
_____ connect with remote site 15-30 minutes prior to the meeting time
_____ check audio, video, lighting, auxiliary equipment (document camera, VCR, etc.)
_____ preview local camera angle and preset angles if possible
_____ keep ISDN and telephone numbers handy during the conference
_____ view yourself occasionally (make sure the other end can see the speaker)

Ideas for Videoconferencing Projects

Social Studies

  1. Talk to a professional: author, politician, artist, scientist, or local historian.

  2. Find a partner class in a foreign country, state, or county and share similarities and differences in culture, government, etc.

  3. Share clues with a class in another country or state and find locations using geography terms.

  4. Compare and contrast cultural or holiday traditions.

  5. Share local newspaper headlines for a month.

  6. Write folk stories.

  7. Survey partner class in such things as age, number of family members, pets, etc.

  8. Have students count something and share this with partner class: trash thrown away in a week, foods or calories eaten in a week, TV shows watched, etc. Create graphs, analyze findings, and draw conclusions.

  9. Discuss effects of a war on your area and the areas of your partner class.

  10. Create time lines of certain events in history that affected the areas of other classes. Combine these time lines to compare events.

  11. Read an historical novel. Send back and forth questions about the novel. For example: Do you think the story is an accurate account of the event? Are the characters historically accurate? Write brief descriptions of why you would recommend this book to others.

  12. Create travel brochures about your area and exchange with other classes.

  13. Research and exchange clues about historical people with another class.

  14. Write historical stories. Draw visual maps to describe your stories. Share these with another class and have them write a story from your map.

  15. Record prices of certain items in different areas where partner classes live. Compare these prices, make charts, and discuss the effects on the areas’ economy.

  16. Gather geographical and transportation facts about your area. Have classes exchange these and discuss how these affect the economy in that area.

  17. List the types of jobs parents in your class have. Share these and contrast how jobs in areas are different due to factors such as history, geography, economy, etc.

  18. Share a monthly environmental newsletter with other classes. Tell what is being done in each area to make a cleaner environment.


  1. Have several classes visit a virtual museum. Share what they like the most and why.

  2. Create science questions to exchange with another class in the areas being studied. Keep a journal of questions answered. Create jeopardy game to be played at video conference.

  3. Both classes keep class pets and record such things as food and water intake, growth, amount of sleep during the day. Share statistics, graphs, and letters about class pet.

  4. Share a science with another class and compare results.

  5. Take temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure for several weeks. Make graphs and share weather patterns.

  6. Record the moon's phases for a month. Draw pictures, send to partner classes to see if results are the same or different.

  7. Have students measure their body parts in cm. at the beginning of the year. Buddy them with another student. Measure again at Christmas or the end of the year and compare growth amounts. Have buddies email one another throughout the year.

  8. Record the different ecological areas found in one's state: their plant life, animal life, and make up. Compare these with a class in another state.

  9. Record questions on a science topic, such as hurricanes. Share answers with another class. Then video conference with an expert on the topic.

  10. Record cloud formations seen for a month. Write reports telling what other factors may have affected the weather that month, such as the planet rotation.

  11. Keep the location of your partner class a secret. Create a verbal road map from a central location to your town using major highways, landmarks, and major geography features. Send these to other class and have them find location.

  12. Collect data on water using water quality monitoring equipment. Share results with several classes.

  13. Create multimedia presentations about different drugs and exchange.

  14. Find a younger class with whom your students could become mentors. Have younger class ask questions each week for the "Wizards" to answer.

  15. Record and graph classroom genetics traits and compare/contrast with other classes.  

Language Arts

  1. Read a book and video conference with the author.

  2. Partner a younger student with older ones. Have younger students write and older students edit and send back.

  3. Create travel advertisements or brochures of historical places in one's area or town. Include visual and persuasive techniques. Send to a participating class for analysis. Have students write back and tell which place they would rather visit and what techniques persuaded them. During video conference share a virtual visit of some of these places by use of photos or video.

  4. Prepare a video tape of your area and share with other classes. Have students visit and narrate places they visit.

  5. Exchange local current events and activities from different areas. Use in a variety of activities: discuss with another class the main ideas, patterns, or literary techniques found, classify main themes, and write rebuttals or editorials.

  6. Write persuasive articles and exchange. Write back telling why you agree or disagree with author.

  7. Write a continuing novel, which is completed by rotating between several classes.

  8. Write a class myth and present short plays to partner class. Discuss the meanings of the plays.

  9. Have older students practice and then do oral presentations to younger students of folk tales.

  10. Create a poetry booklet that includes poems written by partner classes.

  11. Partner with a class to write and edit. This will give a real audience and purpose for writing.

  12. Pair students. Have them share journal writing using the same prompt in both classes. Have students respond to what they read.

  13. Have students write personal and fictional narratives, biographies, and poems and exchange with buddies in another class.

  14. Read a book. Share sequels, opinions, solutions to problems, different outcomes, evaluations, or interpretations of the book.

  15. Use current events in exercises for debate, critical thinking skills, or role-playing.

  16. Write a short story with other classes. Have one class create the characters, another plot, another theme, etc. Everyone writes a short story after these have been decided upon and then stories are shared.


  1. Write and share word problems. Make it a contest who can answer the most correctly in a class. Share a problem of the week for another class. Involve many classes.

  2. Do a survey on any topic. Graph and analyze data. Examples: Color of hair, number of boys and girls in a class, types of tennis shoes worn, no. of brothers and sisters, favorite foods, etc.

  3. Share the costs of items in different countries or areas over a period of time. Find out what students would buy with certain amounts of money. During video conference, have a virtual yard sale and have each class use foreign money to buy and sell.

  4. Measure perimeters of the main areas of the school: buildings, playground, sidewalks, etc. Write descriptions using geometric terms of how to put the various shapes together. Send measurements and descriptions to another school and have them use these to draw a diagram of the school. Share drawings on day of conf. and compare with actual mapped pictures of the school areas.

  5. Count trash in class garbage cans for a week. Share findings with another class. On the day of conf. share solutions for how to minimize the trash or recycle it.

  6. Find geometric shapes in the area and take photos of these. Send to partner classes and have students identify and classify shapes.

  7. Research airfares, train fares, and gas prices to reach partner class locations. Record and graph over a period of several months. Discuss findings of which places would be cheapest or most expensive to visit, how times of year and distance affected prices.

  8. Research and write about famous mathematicians. Send to partner class who will research answers.

  9. Keep records on what students eat in a week. Have students use nutritional charts to look up the nutrients they consumed in the week. Compare this to other classes. Use in graphing and discussion of a healthy diet.

  10. With several classes in other areas measure and record rainfall or temperatures for several months. Use the figures to compare mean, median, and mode. Graph.

  11. Measure shadows of the same thing at the same time of day in different locations. Discuss the differences in measurements in Science class.

  12. Have students choose different sports teams and research and record a variety of data for that team for several weeks. Use this data for many math activities in statistics.

Introductory Email Questions
These are some sample questions you may want to exchange with your participating classes. You will also want to consider other special questions depending on your project such as equipment needed, time schedules, or holidays. Wait on the technical questions until you find out who will be handling those issues at each school.

  1. Please give us your information:

Your full name:
Your email address:
Your school:
School address:
School voice phone:
Home voice phone:
Grade(s) taught:

  1. Are you in a self-contained classroom or do your students change classes?

  2. What type of computers do you have at your school and are they in classrooms or in a computer lab?

  3. How much Internet access do you have (one in library or lab, in each classroom, etc.)?

  4. What type of equipment (PC or Mac) will you be using the day of the videoconference?

  5. We will need to contact one person for discussion of technical issues for the video conference. Please list the person’s name, phone number, and email address.

  6. How big is your school in size and population?

  7. What is the range of abilities of the students you teach? Do we need to consider any special needs in your class?

  8. Describe the diversity, intellectual abilities, special needs, etc. of your students.

  9. In what type of area is your town (rural, urban, metropolitan, etc.)?

  10. Do you have any immediate questions about the project before we proceed?


About the Authors

judy lambert Dr. Judy Lambert is an assistant professor of Educational Technology at the University of Toledo. She obtained her degree in Curriculum and Instruction (Instructional Technology) in 2004 from North Carolina State University where she served as a former editorial board member of Meridian.

Dr. Lambert has conducted numerous workshops and courses to assist teachers, faculty, and students in learning to integrate a variety of technologies including GIS in the standard course of study. She has published articles and presented at conferences in the fields of social studies, cognition and learning, and technology. She has also participated as a technology integration assistant on numerous research projects, one of which was conducted at various schools in Russia during her time at NCSU.

tony sanchez Dr. Tony Sanchez is an associate professor of social studies education at the University of Toledo. His research interests include multicultural education, character education, and technology in social studies.

A former middle and high school social studies teacher, Dr. Sanchez earned his doctoral degree in 1991 from Indiana University and since then has published numerous journal articles and has presented at major conferences in the areas of multicultural education, Native American Indians, and character education. He serves as consultant on issues of Native Americans.

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Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal
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Volume 10, Issue 1, 2007
ISSN 1097-9778
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