I am a 3rd grade teacher in Connecticut. For the past 3 years my class has made kites in the spring as part of our math curriculum. I started using kites as a way to teach measurement and symmetry, but have since expanded it to applying division and fractions. The students love the chance to use math to make something functional. And, of course, It's great fun to get outside to fly them!

Last year I wanted to add cultural exchange and reading and writing into the unit, so I set up a website where classes around the world could share their experiences and cultural traditions around kites. In the end seven schools from four continents participated. Here is a link to last year's site.

This year I hope to build on last year’s project. I will use a wiki to host the project, as it is much easier for multiple participants to add and edit content on a wiki. Also, the wiki has some great resources and ideas for how to use kites in education. Here is a link to the wiki, although it is only in the beginning stage.

The main goals of this project are:
1. For students from around the world to learn about themselves and others by sharing kite traditions.
2. For students to use digital media to share their experiences of building and/or flying kites.

The wiki contains several further ideas of ways to meet these goals, but really it could be worked into your curriculum however you see fit. And video conferencing is certainly a possibility. I would love to have many participants from around the globe. If you are interested or have any questions please respond.

Tags: collaboration, elementary, geography, wikis

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Replies to This Discussion

I am interested in joining your kite project. It would actually fit into our math unit that I am teaching right now. I teach third grade in New Jersey and I am interested to hear more details on this project.
Hi Renee,
Glad to hear you are interested in the project! What is the math unit you are currently teaching?
Probably the best way to learn about the project is to visit the wiki and check out "about the project" and "kite resources." I would be happy to help with specific ways to integrate kites into your curriculum, but the resources should allow you to build it into your particular curriculum.

Our classes could also video-conference about their learning, and I could probably connect you with some master kite makers if you wanted to video-chat with them.
Jonah
Oh, that would be great. I have visited your wiki and I saw your video. We would love to video-conference with your class about their learning. I am wondering have you been able to video-chat with the students from Pakistan? They are done their project and I think it would be great to talk to them the first day before we begin ours. We are doing geometry- polygons, symmetry, perimeter, measurement, and so on. That is why I think that would be a great project for us right now. I would also like to hear from you about if you are having them research kites on their own before they make it and how do you see the projects heading this year? Do they research other countries as well and how they use kites? I would love to connect to some master kite makers as well.
We haven't directly contacted any of the other schools yet, as we won't really get into the kite unit until April. I will look into the possibility of chatting with the class in Pakistan. There is also a class in Hawaii that would like to video-chat. Last year we had a video-conference with a kite master in Japan and a Caribbean kite maker who now lives around D.C. (I will send a message about their contact info.) The students loved both of the conferences!

Last year we researched kites a little bit before starting to make them. The link to the Drachen Foundation has some good resources about introducing kites. Also, if you have access to Reading A-Z, they have a good multi-level text (roughly grade levels 2.5, 3.3, and 4.0) about kites that I used. I am hoping to do more learning about cultural traditions of kites this year. That is part of the reason for setting up the wiki. A couple of classes from India are working on content now. Eventually I would love to have information from all over, but especially Japan, Malaysia, the Caribbean, Brazil, and more from China as these areas have very rich and unique kite traditions. (Here is a link to an interesting video about kite fishing in the Solomon islands. I'm not sure what my students will think of it...)

Hopefully the links on the wiki are helpful for ideas of how to incorporate kites into math. If you find any others, please add them.
Please send me the contact information. I would like to plan out these lessons and present them to my curriculum director next week. I am so excited about making these real world connections. The more contact we make with other classes the better:)
Thank you for the contacts. I will email you with information and dates that might be good for you to video conference.
Here's an update on the project so far:

Schools from India, Pakistan, Hawaii, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Belize, China and several from the US have joined the project. The more the merrier! I'm also working on connections with kite makers in Japan, Brazil, and Jamaica. I will be starting the unit at the end of march, but you can do it at any time that fits.

I wanted to make the objectives a little clearer so here is some more info:

There are several different ways to participate in this global kite project. The main goals are:
1. Sharing the local kite traditions of your country.
2. Using math (or a local expert) to design and make kites that fly.
3. Use writing or digital media to share your learning.


You can focus on just one of these, or do both.

If you choose to focus on the first one, here are some guiding questions to consider:
• Are kites flown at special times of the year, or for special occasions?
• Where do most people fly kites (the beach, parks, roof-tops…)?
• What are most kites made out of?
• Are there different styles of kites in your country? What makes them different?
• What is the word you use for kites? Are there different names for different types?


If you focus on the second goal, many math concepts can be worked into making kites; measurement, shapes, symmetry, addition (for getting the perimeter), area, division (for finding the intersections and equal sections of the kite), etc.
The “Kite Resources” page on the wiki should have some specific ideas along with simple plans for making effective kites.

If you have a local expert assist with making kites, perhaps the students could write down the steps they followed, like a “how-to” guide for others.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

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