Juarez-Lincoln Accelerated School, in San Diego, California, and P.S. 92 in Queens, New York, couldn't be much farther apart geographically or culturally. Yet, through teleconferencing technology, students at the two schools got together to collaborate on a story for PBS's Ghostwriter television series, which is aimed at building literacy skills. Classes on each coast divided up responsibility for composing different parts of a mystery, shared ideas via e-mail, then used a video hookup to critique each other's work and create a final version that was presented for review to one of the program's writers.
"Teleconferencing is a powerful way for students to 'visit' each other," says George Bonilla, Juarez-Lincoln's community school specialist and network systems technologist. "It allows a lot of social and racial barriers to be broken. Adults won't say anything about the differences they see among people and that leads to misunderstandings and stereotyping, but kids talk about their observations and get it over with."
Juarez-Lincoln is a year-round, K-6 school serving 600 students. To fund its five teleconferencing sites, Internet connections in each classroom, and other technological tools, the school obtained grants and set up partnerships with other schools, corporations, and telecommunications providers.