The iPals project will begin in the 2009-2010 school year and focus on cultural diversity, the arts, and technology. A $3,995 grant from the Hipp Foundation was awarded to Washington Elementary School (Bergen County) teacher Susan Wahling to implement the program.

A group of 40 students from third and fourth grades learn about digital storytelling, vodcasting, and podcasting, and use those skills to communicate with a partner school in the Midwest. The group of ESL, mainstream, and classified students create a blog, podcasts, vodcasts, and digital stories to be shared with the partner group – a K-6 school in a small farming town in Iowa. The partner school received a technology grant to fund their portion of the project.

The students’ work is posted to a student-created blog that is accessible by the entire student body. Both schools work together on long-distance planning through a project wiki. After a kick-off potluck supper for the students and their parents, a workshop is presented to students to teach them to work with the blog, practice with video cameras, create a video introduction to the Iowa school, and learn to post the video blog.

A monthly workshop is held on each of the four main principals of the project: (1) podcasting; (2) digital storytelling; (3) vodcasting; and (4) creating a film festival. Each workshop is followed up with an assignment to the group to share with the partner school.

Throughout the year, all students participate in presentations and film showings by the group to learn about the partner school.

Committee-developed pre- and post-tests on technology are given to the student group to evaluate the project and develop plans for the following year.

For further information, contact:

Susan Wahling
School - (201) 664-6440