Phoenix teacher turns students into world tourists through distance learning – Today Osvego County

A fifth-grade teacher at Emerson J. High School. Dillon Jim Cassella works with a student to identify Hungary while connecting to a distance learning course facilitated by CiTi BOCES.

PHOENIX, NY – While many travel plans have been thwarted in recent years, a pandemic has hit high school teacher Emerson J.C. Dillon did not stop Jim Cassella and his students from “traveling the world.”

Since the 2018-19 school year, Cassella’s fifth-graders have taken 27 breaks as part of a virtual learning initiative that connects Phoenix students with their peers around the world. Remote connections are provided through the CiTi distance learning program and provide students with insights into classrooms in other cities, states and countries.

According to Christine Edwards, a CiTi distance learning specialist, Cassella was at the forefront of these opportunities, providing her students with Zoom connectivity to classrooms across the United States and in countries such as Norway and Hungary.

“We always start by playing Geography 20 Questions,” Edwards said. Students ask each other “yes” or “no” questions until they find each other’s place. Then, if time permits, the classes always just talk – as children, as people. This is magic. ”

The conversations also draw attention to world events, and Cassella encourages his students to ask questions to give them a better understanding of the world around them. Recently, when the possibility of possible contact with Russia arose, Cassella saw an opportunity to learn more from humanity.

“I hope this brings more compassion to humanity than we have expected from a normal year,” Cassella said. “When my students see that they’re just beautiful young people and try to have a good life, they can move away from the negative commonalities about Russians.”

Whether the connections are related to current events or just connect one geographical area with another, students always have experiences and memories to take away from the opportunity of their virtual journey. Edwards said the memories come from a teacher who leads the class and takes the distance learning initiative.

“Jim believes in not only educating his children, but also in social support,” she said. “His challenge is not to work, but to be a teacher. Actually, I can’t talk about this man as a teacher and a human being. He makes the world his classroom, and it has a lasting impact on his students.”

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