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By Andrés Rivera Vallarta, Teacher, INAM Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico
It`s amazing how all the things we once saw as impossible are now possible, and some of them are being created by kids. In my global classroom, the future is already here.
Yesterday, my students were engaged in a hands-on learning activity with Scratch as part of their Global Programming course, one of the first Level Up Village programs we have introduced at my school. It was a memorable moment for the students. They were making a cartoon! These are children who have spent many hours watching cartoons, so for them, making one was as exciting as it gets!
As I began the class, they made all sorts of comments about how they felt as if they were working for a famous studio. First, I taught them to make a girl walk, and the simple fact that she moved a single leg inspired a moment of delight that was shared by every member of the class. Just how exciting was it? It was as if a spaceship had landed on the planet and in the control room everyone was hugging and screaming. The animation was a success. These kids made a cartoon for the first time in their life, at the age of nine. This experience awakened their potential and inspired them to learn even more.
Emotional Intelligence and Resilience
When I was in elementary school, I remember that I grew up with a lot of stereotypes about people around the world that were reinforced by the books we read. But nowadays, through the Level Up Village program, kids are not only learning new STEM skills, but also interacting with real, living people who are different from themselves. By working as project partners with a student in another country, they have the opportunity to learn about another culture and what life is like in their partner’s country.
This experience is teaching them to develop greater emotional intelligence. Students who develop emotional intelligence move forward faster than other children. At the root of emotional intelligence is empathy. The fact that they can feel what others are feeling makes them stop and help each other out along the way. This is what I`m observing in my kids with the Level Up Village program. It is helping my students grow up without stereotypes. It is allowing them to understand the needs of other kids from around the world and try to do something about it because of the connections they are making.
They are also becoming more fearless about making a mistake, no longer terrified about the idea of expressing something that could be wrong. We learn by making mistakes and if our kids are fearless, they will participate more fully in every opportunity they get. Developing this type of resilience will serve them well in the future.
The Next Generation
As a teacher of the program, I feel the responsibility to make each class a wonderful experience for them. My students will not achieve all their dreams and realize their potential without a good guide. For some, this is not just a class because more than a couple will find a good future in animation or related fields. I want to be sure to keep them moving forward as I guide the next generation of artists, perhaps the next Steven Spielberg or the next George Lucas.
At the same time, they are becoming more caring citizens. It is this kind of growth that is the most important part for me about the whole experience. My students are not just learning new technology skills. They are also developing the emotional intelligence and the resilience that leads to better classrooms and better societies, and ultimately, a better world.