in a new time-space dimension
by Patti Weeg

As more schools around the world have access to the Internet during the instructional day, our students are experiencing a new dimension of time and space. The realities of this new dimension in which we live and teach our students, challenge all of us to think beyond the "now" and embrace a world community that transcends time and geography.

I live on the east coast of the USA but, in a very real sense, that's no longer where I work. In truth, I really believe that I am much more than just a citizen of the USA. I am a citizen of the global community brought together by technologies that grow more sophisticated each day. My work takes me to Japan, Iceland and Pakistan yet I am back to my school cafeteria for lunch time duties. My travel doesn't require a passport and jet lag is never a problem.

We live in a new "time-space dimension" where time takes on a new meaning. Isamu Shimazaki, an online colleague and I write to each other late at night and early in the morning yet words cannot describe where we really are in time. He is in my tomorrow and I am in his yesterday but we are writing to each other in the NOW.

I wrote to a KIDLINK list about a message that Isamu sent me and the sentence I wrote was strange. I typed, "Isamu sent me this tomorrow." The past and the future were one! Well, it was sent in my tomorrow because he was already in the next day. He signed his message to me this way:

From your tomorrow,

While Isamu and I can send messages back and forth to each other from our homes in real time, my students understand that we cannot do IRC with Isamu's students because our round world will just not allow it. They are asleep when we are awake and having classes in school. Isamu's students and mine are citizens in this new time-space dimension. Time and geography are very important to them.

Looking Inside Our Time Dimensions

For the past two years KIDLINK has offered a global project in KIDPROJ called A KIDLINK Day. In this project, students from around the world write a journal for one day, which has been identified in the project as - The KIDLINK Day. These journals form the database of a unique opportunity to look across the new time-space dimension where our young citizens of the global community find themselves interacting.

The project provides teachers with an excellent source of data for use across many curriculum areas such as social studies, math and writing. By looking closely at the descriptions of a typical day across many time zones, our students become aware of our multicultural diversity. Students around the world are basically the same with similar hopes, fears and dreams yet their everyday day lives are filled with details that are typical for their place on the planet. Teachers using the KIDLINK Day project find many ways to address curriculum requirements and learner outcomes while using the project.

Social Studies:

  1. locating journal writers on the map, latitude/longitude, hemisphere
  2. identifying customs and festivals noted in the journals
  3. identifying local foods
  4. identifying study habits and values
  5. comparing the length of school day in various countries
  6. identify subject areas that are favorites and those that are unique to the area.
Language Arts:
  1. writing for a specific purpose - to inform
  2. using appropriate style and conventions
  3. developing as writers using the writing process having had occasions to prewrite, draft, revise and proofread their journal writings
  4. writing effectively by considering correctness, completeness, and appropriateness of their text
  1. recording, analyzing and comparing weather data and patterns
  2. becoming aware that land features help influence recreational activities of students in various parts of the world
  3. nutrition - comparing the kinds of food kids like to eat for meals
  4. dental hygiene - How many students feel strongly about brushing their teeth and mention it as a part of their daily routine?
  1. recording, organizing and interpreting data
  2. comparing standard and metric measurement - daily temperature
  3. using percents and fractions to describe daily activity - Students spend 10% of their day watching tv and of the day in school.
  4. totaling and averaging the hours of homework classmates are doing on a typical day
  5. recognizing and interpreting use of military time in the journals
In my new book titled, Kids@work: Math in the Cyberzone, I devote a chapter to activities using Math journals for gathering, organizing, interpreting, analyzing and synthesizing data.

In typical journals your students might see common threads in their days:

  1. The hour kids wake up on a school day
  2. breakfast and lunch favorites
  3. transportation to school
  4. length of classes and school day
  5. favorite or least favorite classes
  6. after school activities
  7. time spent on chores after school
  8. time spent on homework or watching TV
  9. favorite TV shows
  10. the hour for going to bed at night
In my book I encourage the students to make a table showing some of these common threads as they look closely at a typical day for their online friends.

Data From the Math Journals
NameAge CountryWakes upLength of school dayTVHomeworkGoes to bed

Looking at Journals Together

Here are suggestions for a group of 5 students working collaboratively to collect data from journals.

Student 1 - Looks at the time of day that students wake up.
Think about:
What is the earliest hour that kids wake up for school in your set of journals? Do you see any patterns? Does the hour for waking up in the morning differ very much by country?

Student 2 - Looks at the length of the school day.
Think about:
Do you think all students are in school the same number of hours a day? Do all students attend school the same days of the week?

Student 3 - Looks at how many hours a day kids watch TV.
Think about:
How many hours a day did you think that kids watch TV? Were you close in your estimate? In which country do kids watch more TV? What do you think the reasons are for this? Do boys watch more TV than girls? What kinds of TV shows do kids watch?

Student 4 - Looks at how many hours a day students spend on homework.
Think about:
Graph your data in a line or bar graph. How much time do kids spend doing homework in each country? Who does the most? Who does the least? Do girls spend more time on homework than boys?

Student 5 - Looks at the time of night when kids go to bed.
Think about:
What is the latest time at night that kids go to bed? Who stays up later in the evening, girls or boys? Do you find big differences by country? Does TV influence the time that kids go to bed each night?

Once data is collected and organized, students take the data and graph it using line, bar or pie graphs. From these visual displays of their data, students write about and discuss what they see and learn from the journals.

A simple project such as writing journals on a specified day and sharing them with friends who live in many parts of the world helps our young people enter into a new time-space dimension. The Internet brings this new dimension to all of us who send e-mail into tomorrow while writing inside the recipient's yesterday.