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Showcasing David Anderson and "Handprints Across the World"

"In my 'Handprints Across The World' project, students traced their hands and made a handprint that showed the individuality of each person. They then illustrated their handprints with pictures representing their culture," explained David Anderson of Troy, New York. "Each picture represented a unique idea about their culture -- foods, sports, tourist attractions, religion, music, and so on."

American students offer a friendly "hand."

A veteran social studies teacher, Anderson retired after 32 years; he now shares his experience by supervising student teachers. The main goal of the handprints project, which he implemented during the last school year, was for sixth grade students to learn about different cultures around the world. Schools in Austria, Poland, Turkey, China, Ghana, Australia, Japan, India, and the United States exchanged "handprints" and cultural information as part of the collaborative project.

"Students were excited to decide what to draw about their own culture and equally thrilled to receive so many different handprints from around the world," explained Anderson. "Learning came alive as primary documents arrived from other countries."

Every handprint was unique.

Anderson views collaborative projects as a tool for teaching character education and tolerance, and sees computers as their key. "The creation of collaborative projects with other classrooms is a great way to build lasting friendships and learn about different ways of life," he said. "Computers have opened up many innovative, creative ways of gathering information, and students can use technology to participate in unique project activities."

The promotion of exchange and communication among children is a long-standing objective for Anderson. A "Festival of Nations," or culture fair, was a regular event in his class. After the tragedies of September 11th, he encouraged students to share ideas and "culture items," such as Christmas ornaments and friendship pins.

Photos courtesy of David Anderson.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
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