About Us
What is Orillas?
Our Philosophy
Past Projects

Current Group Projects
Math in Our Lives
Other Group Projects
Link to IEARN-Orillas

Getting Started
Tips for Getting Started
Project Planning

Sister Class Partnerships
Culture Packages
Sister Class Activities

For More Information

De Orilla a Orilla
c/o Kristin Brown

847 Arden Dr.
Encinitas, CA 92024
530/475-0410 (ph/fax)


Enid Figueroa, Kristin Brown, and
Dennis Sayers, Co-Founders

Reinaldo Rivera, Technical Support



What is Orillas?

De Orilla a Orilla (Spanish for "from shore to shore") is an international teacher-researcher project that has focused on documenting promising classroom practices for intercultural learning over global learning networks. Since 1985, Orillas has employed modern telecommunications to promote and extend an educational networking model first developed by the French educators Celestin and Elise Freinet in 1924. Following the Freinet model, Orillas is not a student-to-student penpal project but rather clusters of class-to-class collaborations designed by two or more partner teachers who have been matched according to common teaching interests and their students' grade level.

Orillas has been an international clearinghouse for establishing long-distance team-teaching partnerships between pairs or groups of teachers separated by distance, forming "sister" or "partner" classes with a focus that is both multinational and multilingual (including primarily Spanish, English, French, Portuguese, Haitian, and American and French Canadian Sign Languages). The collaborating teachers make use of electronic mail and computer-based conferencing to plan and implement comparative learning projects between their distant partner classes. Such parallel projects include dual community surveys, joint math and science investigations, twinned geography projects, and comparative oral history and folklore studies. Often teachers in Orillas electronically publish their students' work over the Internet.

Research on Orillas has focused on those networking activities which effect social change, validate community traditions in the schools, and promote anti-racist education and linguistic human rights, while allowing teachers to explore the classroom practicalities of teaching based on collaborative critical inquiry. Robert DeVillar and Chris Faltis in Computers and Cultural Diversity judged Orillas "certainly one of the more, if not the most, innovative and pedagogically complete computer-supported writing projects involving students across distances" (SUNY Press, 1991, p. 116). In their recent book Brave New Schools, Jim Cummins and Dennis Sayers write that "Orillas remains--after more than a decade--the leading global learning network project working to explore and expand the theoretical and practical boundaries of multilingual, intercultural learning" (St. Martin's Press, 1995 p. 23).

How to Participate

Parents or teachers should contact Orillas if they are interested in participating in learning projects over global learning networks that:

  1. Promote bilingualism and learning another language.

  2. Validate the role of parents and families in a child's education and explore community knowledge, oral traditions associated with folklore, and learning from elders through oral history.

  3. Advance anti-racist multicultural education

  4. Develop new approaches to teaching and learning that encourage students, parents, and communities to take action for social justice and environmental improvement.


We gratefully acknowledge the University of Puerto Rico and the Center for Language Minority Educational Research (CLMER) at CSULB for their support.