Tanner Pylant, sixth grade teacher at Frenship Middle School, enriched his Social Studies classes this week with an experience they won’t soon forget. Students got to Skype with a woman from Uzbekistan and ask her questions about their economy, culture, government and religion.
Read the Q & A below to hear more about their global experience.
Q: How did this experience come about?
Pylant: My aunt was in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan in the early 2000s. When I saw that the unit was SW Asia, I called her to see if there was anything that she thought would be interesting for my kids to learn about from her time there. She then connected me with our speaker, who she knew from her time there, so that my students could have an opportunity to ask questions from somebody that was born and raised there.
Q: What was the students’ reaction?
Pylant: They seemed to really enjoy it and they asked a lot of good questions. The day before the Skype call, we brainstormed questions are put them on the board in the different categories of government, economics, religion and culture. They also were really touched by some of the stories that were shared – particularly about the forced child labor in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan.
Q: What did they learn?
Pylant: We were able to discuss Uzbekistan’s transition from Communism to Free Enterprise after the fall of the Soviet Union. Also, we talked about the cotton picking that was mentioned above. That was the section that most moved the kids and allowed them to understand the difference between living there. (The cotton picking is all students picking at least 50 lbs of cotton per day from mid-September to end of November and they shut down schools). We also discussed the government’s decision to divert water away from the Aral Sea, which has effectively made the area a desert. Lastly, we were able to ask questions about Islam (specifically Ramadan).
Q: What was your favorite part?
Pylant: I just enjoyed seeing my students get excited about learning. It made the content much more real to have somebody explain what life was like for them. It has been cool to have them be curious about life across the world and to have the opportunity to have those questions answered.