Faculty at Sacred Heart University’s Isabelle Farrington College of Education brought area children together for its second annual Classes Without Walls project.
Established by professors Randall Glading and Charles Britton, Classes Without Walls assembled third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds to work and learn as a group. Four hundred students from Bridgeport’s Madison School and Trumbull’s Daniels Farm School engaged in online projects throughout the school year and communicated with one another using Google Chromebooks or computer tablets. They researched their new friends’ cultures and ethnicities and created slideshow presentations. Each grade met face-to-face at SHU before the school year ended for more learning and activities.
“Technology today provides an opportunity for kids,” Glading said. “They get to know each other and work together because of it. It’s an exciting time.”
For third-graders from the two elementary schools, the morning of their visit to SHU was a rotation of activities. Some students decorated rocks with their new friends, aided by College of Education professors Karen Waters and Kristin Rainville. Others headed outside with Glading and their classroom teachers. They formed groups around large, rainbow-colored parachutes and listened as Glading instructed them on the game they were about to play. Another group stayed inside University Commons to present the ethnicity slide shows on which they had worked so diligently.
“Everyone really loved it. Teachers from the elementary schools were on board with the program, as well as College of Education faculty and staff,” Glading said. “We’re breaking down social and racial barriers.”
The Bridgeport and Trumbull elementary school teachers expressed delight in the program. They said they were happy to see their students getting along with their new friends and learning new things. They also were pleased to expose the children to a college campus. College of Education faculty said they were excited to bring the Bridgeport and Trumbull students together and be there to witness the learning and fun.
Classes Without Walls is still in its infancy stages, and Glading said he hopes to attract more area schools next year, with the ultimate goal of expanding the program across the state and eventually across the nation. Glading said due to technology, it can be easily done.
For more information on the program, visit: http://classeswithoutwalls.com/index.html.