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East View Elementary Students Introduce Flat Stanley to the Mayor
By: Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Staff Specialist

If your classroom has not participated in a virtual collaborative project before, take this opportunity to learn how easily it can happen and how teachers and students enjoy it!  In April 2013, Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Keller, and Mrs. Hart took their 2nd & 3rd grade East View Elementary resource classroom students on a tour of Olean and to meet Mayor Linda Witte as part of a New York State classroom collaborative project. 
Mrs. Crawford signed up for the Flat Stanley collaborative project to help her students expand on reading, writing, questioning, and speaking skills.  This project provided an opportunity for the students to make a videoconference connection with students from another classroom in New York State.  Student engagement was inevitable.
The collaborative project kicked off with the East View class reading the book, Flat Stanley.  The students then made their paper "Flat Stanley"  and took him on a walking tour to learn about the exciting landmarks in Olean, NY.  Mrs. Crawford mentioned that  the tour around Olean was her students’ favorite part of the project.  They visited Cutco, they learned about the squirrels of Olean, and the students and Flat Stanley even met the Mayor!  After the students took photos, they placed the pictures and descriptions in their journals and mailed them to Minetto Elementary. 
Tracy Keller, one of the East View teachers, said, “In addition to the Flat Stanley virtual field trip, the class sent our Flat Stanley in the mail to friends and family members in another state. We then located each state on the map and learned information about those states. The kids loved receiving pictures and letters from all over the country."  
Olean East View Elementary Students
Oswego City Minetto Elementary Students
The day finally arrived where the Olean East View Elementary students were able to meet the Oswego City Minetto Elementary students on camera!  The students were able to learn new and different things about each city.  Some students mentioned, “It was fun because we got to learn about another town," and, " I liked walking around and seeing different places in Olean."
All the kids enjoyed the Flat Stanley project. They enjoyed reading the book, learning about Oswe
go and their own city, Olean. The teachers at East View raved and noted, “I wish I had given these virtual field trip/collaborations a try earlier, they are so much easier to do than I ever imagined. We'll be doing more virtual field trips in the future for sure!”
News of successful virtual collaborations travels fast when teachers know they have provided a rewarding and worthwhile global experience for local students.  Consider joining in the fun to kick off your next school year!

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