Eighth graders learn big lessons from CNN Heroes assignment
Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow e-mailed and chatted over Skype about his work to relieve hunger problems for kids.
January 5th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Eighth graders learn big lessons from CNN Heroes assignment

For a group of eighth graders in Iowa a language arts assignment turned into an eye-opening experience when they got the chance to speak with some of the CNN Heroes winners.

Their teacher assigned them to draw names of the CNN Hero finalists and try to reach out to them for a Skype session for class. Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who was named a hero for his efforts to towards global hunger relief, shared stories with the students of other kids, worlds away, who don't have even the simple luxuries the Dickinson County kids likely took for granted.

"For our kids to hear these stories about other students their age that all they want out of life is education and a meal," teacher Chris Block told the Dickinson County News. "That's pretty amazing– for our students to know what life is really like in other places."

Learn more about CNN Heroes

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. professor phill

    who thinks obama should be inpeached

    January 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. thatoneguy

    Professor Phill talks like he's Dr. Phill 🙂 LOL

    January 7, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Riddler

    STOP! All of you people trying to be funny you are doing a very poor job of it. If you want people to post on your blog you don't make it short and immature. I am one of those students and every one who is trying to be funny is one to. If you don't stop this blog is going to die out. Why not post about what a great experience this was, I know you all learned lessons from it. So instead of showing off for your friends and bragging that you posted something why not write about them.

    January 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The Riddler's Enemy

    Im guessing your Mrs. Block!

    January 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. HOBO-JOE

    Hi! I live in a box!

    January 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Julie

    To all bloggers on this website- Please stop posting useless and off-topic blogs. Some of us actually want to hear the opinions people have about the assignment.
    I for one would love to hear more comments other teachers and adults have about the style of learning we students experienced. Even after the comments the some of the puerile classmates of mine made, I hope there are still some adults and teachers watching this. Yesterday and today in Language Arts, our teacher showed us this blog, but now students are getting immature for eighth graders.
    As I said before, if there are any adults still watching this blog, we welcome your opinions. If you are happy with this assignment, please tell us. If you don't agree with this assignment, share why. It is always great to hear what others people's views are.
    Hope you keep blogging!

    January 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jammey

    Im in Mrs. Blocks class

    January 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. professor phill

    i bet the riddler is a teacher and BBBBBBBBlockkkk 🙁

    January 7, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. professor phill

    julie people's isnt a word kind o like aint

    January 7, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      People is a word and people's is the possessive form of the word. I was talking about "the views of people" but you can word it "people's views"

      January 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. professor phill

    this is very off subject and i think it needs to get on track

    January 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. professor phill

    and ho-bo joe is very in mature

    January 7, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Immature is one word.

      January 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Atticus

    no one cares julie

    January 10, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim

    If any CNN heroes are watching this- could you post? It was great hearing what Gary had to say. Is there an Irene Zola watching the blog?

    January 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gary Oppenheimer

    Hello students that was a wonderful time i had on Skype with you students.

    January 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cavernqueen

    I am the parent of one of the students in Mrs. Blocks language arts classes and am so proud of the projects the kids have done and the doors that have opened with another life lesson which is continuing on with the help of modern technology. I was concerned with the distractions I knew would occur when the 5th through 12th grades were given school computers before school started this year. Mrs. Block has done an awesome job in teaching how to use the current technology to open up the world for the kids. I didn't know about this "speech" assignment on heros until I pulled my child out of class for a medical appointment. We "had to" hurried back to school (a middle school student hurrying back to class???) because the class was going to the Performing Arts center to give their presentations. Nothing else was said until Thanksgiving weekend when we were at channel surfing and stopped on CNN Anderson Cooper's CNN Hero awards show . My daughter knew of this so we watched and she told us about her hero and what she had learned in her research. Within a week or so the kids were making a list of questions to email their hero. Next I heard that the kids were getting out of class to have a skype interview with the international organization that has been set up to help their hero, Aki Ra, with the removal of land mines and explosives in Cambodia. The director of the international organization has become a weekly skype friend and is working on setting up an interview with the girls and Aki Ra who isn't around much as he is usually out in the countryside making his home country safe for children and families. The girls have since written an article about their project that went to the Superintendent and on to the school column of the local newspaper. Mrs. Block's class project was featured in an article on the front of the local paper a couple weeks ago. The latest acknowledgment of Mrs. Blocks project was on the message board of a local manufacturing business. I called the company and talked to the guy who puts the messages up. He thinks the community need to know what the kids are accomplishing and will put up more messages as he find news of them. I am pleased to have our young people being aware of the issues going on in the world around them –I can't keep up with it all.. Not everything when you grow up is "Pretty Little Liars" , "Jersey Shores" or "Hoarders" or "THe Bachelor". I am thankful our teachers are helping us ( parents) become aware and help our children deal with real life situations. I've also come to admire Anderson Cooper and CNN's hero program. I see they are already taking nominations for the 2011 Heros. Perhaps one of Mrs. Blocks 8th graders will be nominated some day. Maybe they can become correspondents like Anderson Cooper. Cheers to Mrs. Block speech assignment-how many teachers have Middle school students still excited about 2 months agos assignment and had it expand in so many directions. Congratulations Mrs. Block-you are a hero too!.

    January 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
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