Keeping up with the Jensses


It’s not easy keeping pace with this jet-setting family of
four on their year-long trip around the world. Earlier in the summer, we introduced you to the Jenss family; Dad
Rainer, Mom Carol, and boys Tyler (11) and Stefen (8). By our first post, they had already traveled
the scenic coastline of Maine,
eaten the “best
” in Chicago, and seen the
roaming bison of the Badlands
. Since
then, the Jensses have made their way across the United
States, exploring national parks like Yellowstone
and Glacier,
trekking around cities like Seattle
and San
, and learning how to surf on the islands of Hawaii. The family has finished their American tour,
and is now in China exploring
the Inner
Mongolian Desert
and enjoying delicious rice and dumplings in Beijing.

Both the parents and the kids keep a travel blog and post
their thoughts regularly. Before they
ventured across the Pacific, the family listed the best and the worst parts of
their American road trip. While the
parents complained about crowded trails and the lack of home-cooked meals, the
boys affectionately wrote about tourist attractions and pizza. Therein lies the beauty of travel; you can
stand next to someone and experience completely different things!

Continue reading “Keeping up with the Jensses”

Tolisano Guestblog Part III: Maps to Show the Big Picture

We’re back with Silvia Tolisano, Technology Integration Facilitator at San José Episcopal Day School in Jacksonville, Florida, for the final of three posts about her Global Studies program. Silvia concludes with a  message on the power of maps to facilitate learning and build bridges between prior and newly constructed knowledge.

“Making connections” is a primary goal for educators.
Understanding is directly related to being able to connect new material, facts,
ideas, and concepts to previously learned knowledge.


Using maps is a great way of allowing these connections to
grow. Our Global Studies curriculum is taking advantage of many different ways
to incorporate maps into the program.

While studying China, fourth graders were
assigned a specific province. It was each group’s goal to research particular characteristics
of their province. Agriculture, animals, population and industries were some of
the characteristics they focused on.


A giant map of China was placed on the wall. Each group
received a large puzzle piece in the shape of their province, which they
decorated with information they had learned.


As the culminating project, the students presented the
research of their assigned province and added the puzzle piece to the big map.
Once the map was completed, the teachers and students discussed the importance
of each province in relationship to the country and world. Answers to questions,
like “What would happen if this province with its agricultural production did
not exist?” or “Why do these two neighboring provinces farm the same types of
crops?” suddenly became clearer to the students as they were able to make these


Throughout the school, maps were placed on walls and
bulletin boards to show students where the traveling teachers and bear were on
a daily basis.


Teachers printed out images from the photo stream on Flickr
( and created
connections to the geographical location on the map.

Continue reading “Tolisano Guestblog Part III: Maps to Show the Big Picture”

Keeping up with the Jensses

Rainer Jenss, National
Geographic Kids
magazine Vice President and Publisher, recently embarked on
the journey of a lifetime with his family: a year-long trip around the
world. The Jenss family has been on the
road in North America for two weeks so far, and they have already offered
reflections and photos of their adventures in Massachusetts,
Maine, Quebec, Illinois, Michigan, and South Dakota. Mom, Dad, 11-year-old Tyler, and 8-year-old
Stefan are all blogging regularly from the road, offering their different
perspectives on the people, places, and things they encounter (and your daily
dose of geography in action!) along the way. Rainer’s posts can be found at the National
Geographic Traveler
magazine’s Intelligent
Travel blog
, while his sons Tyler
and Stefan
blog for National
Geographic Kids
magazine in a series called “Global Bros.”


The Jenss Family
Photo courtesy of Intelligent Travel

Continue reading “Keeping up with the Jensses”

Tolisano Guestblog Part II: “Teddy Bears around the World”

In her first piece, Silvia Tolisano described a global studies program combining geography, technology, and a traveling Teddy Bear named José 
at the San José Episcopal Day School in Jacksonville, Florida. In her second guest entry, Silvia explains how José‘s adventures inspired the creation of a Teddy Bear cross-cultural communication and education network. Who needs avatars when you have a bevy of globe-trotting teddies?

Out of the Travel Bear’s trips to China and Egypt
another project seemed to grow naturally:

Teddy Bears around the World

The site provides a space to wander around, read and communicate
with different teddy bears around the world. Our students hear about their
lives and adventures in different parts of the globe. It allows them to see
each other’s countries, customs and traditions through the eyes of our “teddy
bears” and open their horizons to a more global perspective.


Each time a new Teddy Bear joins the conversation, their image is
added to the “Teddies
of the World Gallery
” and a bookmark is placed on the “Where in the World

We love to welcome new Teddy Bears. Please consider joining with your

Adding a Clustr
to the Teddy Bears Around the World blog, which logs visitors and their
geographic location, has also provided a great visual and opportunity for
conversations with our students.


Twenty-first century skills not
only include being able to make connections, but also stress communication as
well as collaboration. Through our Teddy Bear Project, we are seeing these
skills developing in our students.

For example: The Teddy Bear “Eddy”
from England
for help

Continue reading “Tolisano Guestblog Part II: “Teddy Bears around the World””

Guest Blogger #2: Silvia Tolisano

My Wonderful World is thrilled to introduce our second guest blogger, Silvia Tolisano. Silvia is the Technology Integration Facilitator at San José Episcopal Day School in Jacksonville, Florida, where she has established a Global Studies program. In this first of three posts, she describes how she uses Web 2.0 technology and a lovable teddy bear named José to bring the world–and 21st century learning–to her … Continue reading Guest Blogger #2: Silvia Tolisano