International Club begins

2nd grade students were excited yesterday with the start of International Club.  21 eager students and 3 teachers will travel the world to learn more about Peru, Australia and England.  Our first project was to learn how we needed a passport.   Then we applied for our passport and got approved to take the 2:45 flight from Charlotte to Peru.   We a flight simulator (YouTube) students boarded the plane (chairs in classroom set in rows) and it appeared that we actually were flying.  Landing in Lima, Peru students exited the plane and had their passport stamped then reviewed information learned during an earlier presentation at our school about Peru.   We learned they speak two languages.  The flag is red and white with the crest showing a Llama, cornucopia and  chichona tree  .   The Llama is important to the Inca’s and Peru people for the wool to make clothing.  We learned about the city of Lima.  We talked about the Incas.    We looked at the city from google earth and saw the street view.   After that we planned our project of making our own Tunic like the Inca wore.  The more colorful the designs are on the cotton tunic the richer the people are.  Next week we will take our plans and design our own with glitter glue, fabric, paint and other items.  Then we will leave Peru in South America for Australia.   How many hours will it take us?   Can we go nonstop?  How will Australia and Peru be alike and how are they different?

Global Recognition for Rocky River

We are excited to be recognized for the 3rd year as an International School in Union County Public Schools of North Carolina.   UCPS is considered a leader throughout North Carolina for its focus on global education.  For the past six years, the UCPS Global Schools Program has encouraged educators to bring global education into the classroom.

Schools are rated in five categories depending on points earned through its level of participation.  Schools document their growth through an electronic portfolio as we infuse globalization into the curriculum.  It shows our schools’ commitment to connecting our students to others around the world. We are proud of our work and accomplishments.  Documentation included work with our sister schools in England and Australia.  Our VIF teacher (Visiting International Faculty) also brought the English culture to our school through many lessons about her country of origin.  We learned about many countries of focus through each grade.  Kindergarten focuses on North America, First graders focus is Africa, Second graders focus on Australia/Oceania, Third graders focus on Europe, Fourth graders focus is Asia, and fifth graders focus is South America.   The whole school had a program about the Chinese culture and a focus about castles around the world especially in the United Kingdom.   Students collected money for a service learning project through Heifer International and was able to donate several animals to make life better for others around the world.  We participated in virtual field trips to the Great Barrier Reef and for Remembrance Day in England.  Second grade students learned about rugby, foods, and castles during International Club with Mrs. Harlow (VIF teacher) and Mrs. Todd (Global Teacher Leader).

During a principal’s meeting (October 1) 49 schools were recognized with a plaque.  Principals of schools designated International Schools received a banner to display at their schools in addition to the plaque.  Fifteen schools were classified as International Schools which is the top recognition having earned 85+ points.

At the next staff meeting the plaque and banner were presented to the global committee and staff.

AwardInternational School AwardSchool 2014 738

Travel Agents Coming Soon!

We are going on spring break Thursday and will return April 13th.  At that time we will be getting our newest project off to it’s first post about places in North Carolina and the United States to visit.

 We look forward to learning about places in Ireland at that time with students from – Greystones,  Wicklow County, Ireland and the class called If Only the Best Birds Sang   and teaching them about our country as we explore places to visit.

  •   If you were a travel agent for your country what places would you recommend to visitors.  If you’d like to join our project we’d love to hear from you too!  We’d like to hear from more classes around the world about a special place in your country.  

We will also be completing our castle projects during April.  The second grade international club is working on their castle challenge to complete their own castle out of recyclable materials by April 14th.  Look for their designs then.  The students in the rest of the school will learn about castles that week during Global Studies.

The International Club students also took a virtual field trip last week to Australia and the Outback thanks to Ross Mannell who prepared  extended comments for us to visit around Australia since a real trip was not possible.  We were amazed how flat and red it is there. We have  white-tailed deer but not kangaroos. The deer cross the road and get hit by cars, they come in our yards and run off when we appear and some people eat venison meat. We have possum not echinda.  We have ostrichs but not emu.   Where we live we have more green.  The trees are leafless during the winter other than evergreens and some grass is still green and many shrubs.  Now that it is spring everything is turning green.


April 2012-mountain 002Farm 2012

This week we went back to England, Scotland and Wales to learn about foods which was made possible through Project Britain by Mandy Barrow. The students were amazed about eating baked beans for breakfast.  We have a different kind of biscuit that is bread and used for breakfast a lot in the US.   Mrs. Todd had learned about foods in Mrs. Monaghan’s home a few years ago when she took time to share with her class items in her pantry.  Some were very different from ours like chips and fries.  Some cereal looked similar.   Mrs. Harlow lives in England and is here teaching some of us as a visiting teacher.   These teachers are helping us study about these two areas of the world.  We’d like your help too!!

We wonder if Ireland eats the same kind of foods as England, Scotland and Wales?

International Club lasted a few weeks for about 20 energetic seven and eight year old’s.  We did dot art painting of kangaroos and other animals, visited the Outback and saw life there, learned about the Aboriginal people in Australia , learned about Castles and foods from Europe.  Our focus country is Australia and our Visiting teacher is from England so we learn about both places which is interesting to compare.   Our last week after break will be learning a dance from England, learning about schools in Australia and sharing our castles.

We hope some of you can join us in learning about places in Greystones Ireland and North Carolina/USA.  Perhaps you’ll share some of your special places with us during this project.


Middleham Castle (A Room with a View)

Mrs. Monaghan had commented about the castle outside their classroom (A Room with a View) and mentioned their blog site and the picture of their castle.  Below are pictures taken from that site. See the original post about Castles Around the World to see her answers to our inquiry questions about castles.

They are located 2 hours from Scotland and 3 hours from London.

They are located 2 hours from Scotland and 3 hours from London.


Picture used from A Room with a View (blog site) of Middleham Castle.

Picture used from A Room with a View (blog site) of Middleham Castle.Middleham Castle


Castles, Castles Do you have one?

We decided to do some inquiry learning and investigate castles around the world.  We need your help to learn about special castles in your area.   Please help us out by answering some of our questions.

  1. Where is your special castle located?  Continent/Country/City
  2. When was it built?  How old is it?
  3. Why was it built?
  4. Who lived in the castle?   Does anyone still live there?
  5. Is it used for other purposes now?
  6. Do you have more than one castle within 25 miles of your school/home? or even 50, 75, 100 miles away.  Tell us about that one also.
  7. How many rooms in your castle?   Where there unusual rooms in the castle?
  8. What is your castle built with?  Describe the outside of the castle.
  9. Does your castle have a drawbridge?  
  10. Is the castle built in the city, a small town or rural area?   Why do you think this was a good spot for the castle?  Tell us about the land features around the castle.
  11. Describe the inside of the castle.   
  12. Does it cost to visit the castle if it’s open for public viewing?


North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA.  Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

North Carolina is one of the 50 states in the USA. Asheville NC is in the blue NC is green.

North Carolina-  Asheville   35° 32′ 22.74″ N, 82° 33′ 3.42″ W     35.53965, -82.55095

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Winter at the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains

Winter at the Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains


Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina


Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

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Biltmore Estate is a large private estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina.  Tourist pay to go see it throughout the year.  It was built between 1889 and 1895 in a Chateauesque-style. It is the largest privately owned home and is owned by a descendant of the Vanderbilt’s.  It is 178,926 square feet of floor space and 135,280 square feet of living area.  It was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II and is on the US National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. Richard Morris Hunt was the building architect and Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect. Vanderbilt’s estate was modeled after two other impressive houses. One of these was a manor in Buckinghamshire, England called the Waddesdon Manor. The other was Chateau de Blois in the Loire Valley in France.

Vanderbilt wanted his home to follow the traditional agrarian model, which included a main manor house with tenant farms, a small town, a church, and a school. He put so much work into the building process because he wanted the estate to be self-sustaining and produce its own income.   It had its own herds of sheep, swine, poultry, dairy herd,  gardens, and nurseries.  An on-site kiln produced up to 32,000 bricks daily, and a woodworking factory supplied oak and walnut for the house’s floors and walls.  Indiana limestone, Italian marble and other supplies were shipped into Asheville by rail. Inside, the house is distinctively English. The country estates of Knole, Hatfield House and Haddon Hall provided guidance for the design of the interiors while they found inspiration for the house’s exterior in the 16th-century chateaux of Loire Valley, France. The stair tower and steeply pitched roof line were inspired by three specific chateaux: Blois, Chenonceau and Chambord.

Biltmore has four acres of floor space and a total of 250 rooms in the house including 33 bedrooms for family and guests, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces and three kitchens.  There are four floors and a basement area that had a swimming pool, gym and bowling alley.  At Christmas they decorate with around 15,000 strings of lights and 41 decorated trees for visitors.  During spring they have the Festival of Flowers when the gardens are blooming with over 100,000 different colors of tulips.  During summer many roses and other plants bloom. The Biltmore house is the largest home on the property but there are other buildings on the Estate. There are 125,000 acres around the estate area.

The name Biltmore comes from Holland and England not their names.  “Bilt” is a region that belongs to the Vanderbilt family in Holland and “more” refers to the countryside that is quite hilly in Old English terms.  The area of Asheville is in the mountains of North Carolina and the Biltmore Estate is hilly.

The Vanderbilt’s wanted to help others so in 1889 the Vanderbilt’s took considerable pleasure in founding the Biltmore Forest School, the first institute for scientific forestry in America. George and Edith also founded Biltmore Estate Industries in 1901, for the purpose of creating an apprenticeship program to teach traditional crafts such as weaving and woodworking. Students enjoyed creating many things, including reproductions of furnishings within the mansion and were encouraged to sell their works for income.

George and Edith’s only child, Cornelia (1900-1976) was married at the All Soul’s Church in Biltmore Village in 1924 to the honorable John Francis Amherst Cecil (1890-1954). Cecil was a descendant of Lord Burghley, the Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I.

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore Estates Asheville, North Carolina

Boyd, Louise. dsc01641.jpg. June 2004. Pics4Learning. 18 Feb 2015 <>






Students Learn about Scotland

Second grade students in Mrs. Harlow’s class had a special visitor on Friday, November 7 from another continent.  As a VIF teacher, Mrs. Harlow is lucky enough to meet people from all over the world. The special visitor, Mr. Lannagan is from Scotland which borders the country England where Mrs. Harlow was born and raised.   The two countries, along with Wales, make up Great Britain. Mr. Lannagan shared many interesting facts with the boys and girls.

To begin with he read a story called, “The Gruffalo” written by a popular British author, Julia Donaldson. The children knew the story written in English but Mr. Lannagan brought along the Scottish version and although they speak English in Scotland their dialect is very different. The children had a blast trying to figure out the meaning of some of the words as he shared the story with them. Did you know “mucked” is a Scottish word for “big”?  This surprised everyone!

Mr. Lannagan shared the Scottish flag and talked about how it is a part in the British flag. The children asked questions about life in school in Scotland and what the country looks like.

The children were very excited the minute they saw Mr. Lannagan because of his special clothes. He wore a kilt and his sporran (used like a wallet where a kilt has no pockets). He shared with us the special times he would wear this and the traditions involved.

We love to learn about other cultures at Rocky River and this was a great experience for children and staff!

This is the second time that students at Rocky River have had a chance to hear Julia Donaldson’s stories.  A few years ago we did a study of her books and compared our favorites with A Room with a View in Middleham.  What are your favorites?   Do you know of other authors that children love around the world?

Scotland 1

Magazine Collaboration

Our blogging buddies from Upper Plenty have returned from their summer holidays.  Right before their summer holidays and our winter break began we received our copy of a collaborative project.  We were so excited to see our answers to the questionnaires included in this publication by Upper Plenty students , Ms. Crowther’s and Ms. Placek.  The teachers had sent us questions to answer by email from the student groups  to our teacher Mrs. Todd who then chose students to complete them from 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.  A lot of collaboration was involved in completing the project around the world.

It was an absolute pleasure to receive a copy of Global UPdate fromMiss Crowther’s Class in Australia and we enjoyed looking at it when we returned.  They had  worked super-hard to meet their deadlines and publish their magazine.  And what a very professional looking end product it is, too!  We were so surprised by the awesome job they did with the publication to represent kids from all around the world.  Some areas they focused on included school yard games, collections, literacy, math, music, teachers, and natural disasters.


Global UpDate magazine cover

The magazine was first introduced to students in Australia  by the teachers at the beginning of Term 4.  The magazine was to focus on similarities and differences of the lives of children from all around the world. After the students  had all chosen a topic, they began their research. The research involved Skyping, blogging, emailing, interviewing and gathering information from books and the internet.  The students spoke with students and teachers from all around the globe – from Japan, Monroe, NC, USA, China, India, Hong Kong, Germany, England and Canada.

The students said the project  of “Writing our magazine has been a fun, rewarding and, at times, challenging task. It has involved a lot of hard work, dedication and enthusiasm to complete the magazine.” They had a launching party on December 18th, 2013 when they celebrated their hard work.   A representative from the Red Cross came to speak with the students and thank them.

They sold the magazine and the money left over from having it published was donated to the Red Cross which helps kids around the world.  We were happy to have had a part in this collaborative project and helping others at the same time!  We look forward to more projects with students and classes around the world.

Rocky River Elementary designated as International School in UCPS!

December 16th 051 (2)


We’re So Proud and Excited!

Recently at a principals meeting Union County Schools were recognized for their globalization efforts for 2012-2013 school year.  The staff got the news that our school (Rocky River) was awarded the designation in Union County as an International School for 2012-2013 at a staff meeting and we are excited and proud of this accomplishment.  In order to obtain this designation each school submitted a livebinder presentation showing their globalization efforts throughout the school year then a committee went through the rubric criteria and gave points which were then totaled up and schools were awarded designation for their work throughout the year.  International School is the highest award a school can obtain.  You needed above 85 points for this category.  Rocky River exceeded that total with an average of 96 points.  These are the categories awarded throughout the county.  Just the year before we were a Global Partners School with 84 points.

  • UCPS International School                  85+ points
  • UCPS Global Partners School              60-84 points
  • UCPS Global Affiliate School               45-59 points
  • UCPS Goodwill Ambassadors School  35-44 points
  • UCPS Global Education School            1-34 points

Throughout the county there were 19 elementary, middle and high schools in the International category.   Our globalization committee is pictured above with the plaque we received.  Below is the banner which is hanging proudly in our main hall.


































Some areas to get points for included International Sister Schools (England and Australia), Cultural Awareness Projects (Irish Dancers and Jaars – Brazil presentation), Speakers ( Vietnam, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and Colombia), 21st Century Technology ( Voice Threads, Google Docs, Skyping etc., 21st Century communication (Skyping, Blogging, emails, PowerPoint and Professional Development (globalization), classroom web pages, classroom activities highlighting focus countries for each grade, Environmental projects, Service Projects ( Heifer foundation/Beatrice’s Goat. Red Cross, Blood Drives, Relay for life and others), and  the UCPS global teacher leaders program and Global gateway program with Professional Learning modules).

We couldn’t have done a lot of this without our ties with others in England and Australia and around the USA.  A Room with a View (Middleham, England     ) and Upper Plenty-   and Áine Murphy – Pt Lonsdale Primary School  in Australia, along with Stephen in New Zealand were always eager and helpful in doing joint projects together.  From Skyping to learn about a field trip to London, learning about holidays and customs in Australia and England, reading books and comparing our thoughts (The Boy Who Biked the World, Flat Stanley and Magic Tree Houses books and Julia Donaldson books) were enjoyed by students at Rocky River and our sister schools.   We learned about Superstition Mountain and legends, we learned how to sign the Pledge of Allegiance with buddies in Arizona

This year we are continuing our learning with other students around the world and we continue to enjoy this a lot.  Thank you to everyone that continues to join us in our global learning experiences!  Thank you to everyone who helped make this designation possible for our school both locally and internationally.


What do you do to be a global learner?

  We are looking forward to 2014 and delving into some global issues around the world.  If you have any projects you be interested in joining us on let me know.   Water, poverty, environmental, hunger…….



Holidays Around the World

The past few weeks have been busy while the students learned about several Festivals of Light celebrations and holidays celebrated at this time of year around the world.  This is some things they remembered from this unit of study.

  • We watched and learned about Loy Krathong in Thailand.  Getting rid of bad luck and keeping good luck.   The lanterns floating into the sky and the candles in the shells were spectacular.  Awesome boats too.  Some looked like dragons, some had trees and many, many lights.
  • Then went on to India to see Diwali celebrations.  They like to have prosperity.  They shop for gold and things to use in cooking the meal.  The women dress up in silk.   They go shopping at lot.  The fireworks were bright and big.   There were 5 days of festivities.
  • After that it was Sweden for St. Lucia celebrations.  The students thought the girls with the candles on their head looked dangerous if it fell over.  The snow was high in Sweden and it looked cold.
  • We then learned about Las Posadas in Mexico.  This is about the trip Mary and Joseph made to find an inn to stay in.  The children travel from one house to another asking for shelter.  Finally they are allowed into someone’s house.
  • After that we learned about Hanukkah and Kawanza celebrations.  Hanukkah is celebrated by the Jewish people because in Israel they couldn’t celebrate like they wanted then they could.   They light the menorah and play a dreidel game.  With Kawanza they celebrated with family and friends the day after Christmas until the first of January.   They give each other a gift and they like dancing.  They light the kinara .  It has red, green and black candles.  They have 7 habits one for each day with the first one unity.
  • We finished up our study of Holidays with Christmas in Europe, Australia and the United States.  Although some celebrations and traditions were similar others were different.  It’s summer in Australia so their celebrations include beaches, water, surf boards and Santa in a swimsuit with white kangaroos’s driving his ute (truck).  We found this to be different from our Santa and Jingle Bells song with Reindeer and a man in a red suit with black boots.  Some people go to church and celebrate the birth of Jesus.  They sang carols.  Others do special meals and baking and cooking with family and friends.  They have Santa which is sometimes called St. Nick, Santa Claus, Noel in different places.  They decorate trees and put lights outside.  It is a time of giving.

Cards and Packages Arriving Daily from Schools Near and Far

Our project by Jen is well underway and we keep getting cards from many schools.   We are learning about schools near and far away.   Some of them have programs like we do and some are very different.   We are excited everyday to check the mail and see who has sent them today.   Some from California and Canada, Texas, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Florida.




Global Studies – Communicating with Others on PhotoPeach

We also got a wonderful package from friends in Australia.  Our pen pals there sent letters and pictures, a map, a tiny stuffed kangaroo (we think he is cute), cards with animals, a calendar and a DVD.  It took a while to come to us but it held many surprises.  Thank you friends and Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

10th Year- Edublog Awards 2013- WHO WILL WIN?

It’s time for the 10th Edublog Awards and many wonderful blog sites could be listed for several categories so it was hard to pick just one for some of them.

The purpose of the Edublog Awards is promote and demonstrate the educational values of blogging and social media.  It’s tough to decide who to nominate because you can only nominate one blog for each category and there are many, many super blogs to choose from worldwide and many could fit in multiple categories we felt.   A Room with a View  and Mrs. Monaghan (England) could go under several categories, Mrs. Yollis’s  Class (California, USA) class could also go under many and Ms. Crowther and Upper Plenty (Australia ) fit under more than one category .  All three of these teachers and classes demonstrate to others ways to incorporate social media with students.   It was hard to decide where each fit the best!    We edited them over and over and finally decided on our nominations for most categories.   Then we had both Mr. Ross Mannell and Mr. Larry Ferlazzo  we felt could have gone under either category.  They both inspire teachers and students with their informative information.  We constantly learn new things from both of them.




 Our nominations are……….

How can you make your blog site more appealing?  

What makes a good blog site?  

What is the best social media to use?


 Good luck to all the nominees!  

Comparing Schools in Australia and Rocky River and Comparing Others in Discussions

Each class contributed information to add throughout the week during their Global Studies class.   We research for several weeks and finally this week we created our first project together on Google docs.


Rocky River School and Australian Schools
  There are 7 second grade classrooms at Rocky River with about 140 students.   We found many schools to be smaller overall to our 820 students.  But we also discovered they had some of the same books, math/maths manipulatives, interactive boards and computers and playgrounds.  Some classes did the same subjects and some added other things.   We liked all the outside playtime everyone got.  We are required only 30 minutes per day.  Barriers to our education might come more as alarm clocks not going off, parents sick or working, no transportation if car rider, clothes not clean and bad weather (snow, hurricanes, storms, tornadoes) but we didn’t face barriers like some places that had war and had to pay for school to even go.    We think that Australia is similar to us in the barriers they might face. Is your school similar to Rocky River or the Australian schools?  Of course, we didn’t get to do all Australian schools in our research. We were most amazed by the ones in the Outback that we read about called Radio Schools.  We’d like to hear from someone that has done one of these and learn more about it. We want to thank Ms. Cartwright and her students at Newrybar Primary school for their help.  That school is in New South Wales.  They are part of our penpal project Exploring Our Places and our post card project.   Take a moment and make a comment to this new class of bloggers. Her new blog site is   Ms Crowther’s in Victoria was also helpful in our project and answered several questions. View Larger Mapnewrybar (1)   Other schools and blog sites that helped us compare schools in other places included many continents.  Even though our focus was on Australia we have explored schools in England, Canada, Africa, Brazil and Scotland during our investigations. We also appreciate the opportunity to look into Mrs. Lynch’s second grade classroom on her blog site from Canada We loved seeing the video and comparing our classrooms to theirs.  They read many of the same books. We saw The Littles, Pete the Cat, lots of Dr. Seuss books and many other familiar titles.  They had pattern blocks.  They did math.  We wonder more about games they play and what they bring in their lunches. Mrs. Monaghan and a Room with a View has been our learning partners for several years as we learn more about their class and school.  Their blog site is  Mrs. Monaghan continues to share and answer our questions often. We were amazed at the zipline in Scotland.  We got involved with Burravoe Primary through a post card project and learned a lot about their small school.   Many things were different yet similar here.  Did you know they are on an island that you have to ride a ferry to get your car to the mainland?  They often have to stay on the island because of so much wind. We noticed they had a lot of technology for such a small school.    Visit their site to learn more about this small interesting Shetland Island school. We enjoyed viewing the wiki between  Burravoe and Longhaugh.

Longhaugh/Burravoe wiki