E-MAIL TO THE EAST AREA STUDENTS CORRESPOND WITH RUSSIAN COUNTERPARTS, LEARN OF MANY SIMILARITIES.
NEWHALL - Favorite foods and the coolest musical groups will no doubt be discussed in the coming weeks, but the first few e-mail exchanges between a local third-grade class and a group of Russian youngsters have so far found the common ground of homework and basketball.
The weekly messages arriving from the Russian town of Obninsk have Angela Giardelli's third-grade class wondering about the cold land of few earthquakes, where St. Valentine's Day is a new concept and Saturdays are spent in class.
``I think they probably look the same as us,'' said Sean Cameron, 8. ``They play soccer, they play basketball and they learn about social studies like we do.''
Using ePALS, an online classroom exchange program, Giardelli's class has been corresponding with students in Obninsk, a town about 60 miles southwest of Moscow.
The Peachland students originally tried to locate a class in Ukraine, having studied the country and re-created the decorative eggs made famous in the former Soviet republic.
But after having trouble getting a response, they were thrilled to hear from Olga Nosenko's 10- to 12-year-old students in Obninsk.
Using computer software, the text is translated into Russian and English for the classes.
``The kids are very interested in the subjects they study and in their ages,'' Giardelli said of her students. ``We like to write the messages as a whole class so it's not just me typing on a computer.''
Asked to imagine how their new Russian friends entertain themselves, Giardelli's students tossed out popular American fare like scooters, video games and sports.
``I'd tell them about Shaq,'' said Sean, referring to the Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal. ``And I'd like to see a picture of them. I would definitely like that.''
``I want to learn how to say the numbers in Russian,'' added Manuel Sandoval, 8, while other classmates considered whether their counterparts wear baggy shorts or eat spaghetti.
``I'm amazed at how many similarities there are - they play basketball, they study a lot of the same subjects,'' Giardelli said. ``I'd like to do this with the kids for the rest of the year.''
Excerpts from e-mail sent by students in Obninsk, Russia to third- graders at Peachland Elementary in Newhall:
< We are 10-12 years old, but our English isn't very good. We have studied it 2-3 years about 3 hours a week.
At common schools we study maths, Russian language, Russian literature, English, physics, chemistry, biology, history and some other subjects. We have homework every day, sometimes it is very large!
The earthquakes are great rarity for us. There are no mountains in our region. The last earthquake was more than 10 years ago and it hardly shook a tree.
We like to play football, volleyball, basketball, but we didn't know the difference between soccer and football. Please, explain it for us.
It is winter now. There are a lot of snow. Children like to ski, to skate, to sledge in winter and make snowmen and snowforts.