GLOBAL COLLABORATION WEEK 2019 AT HERITAGE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
‘Good planning without good working is nothing.’ (Dwight D.Eisenhower)
I registered Heritage International School for this global event in August, when I discovered the announcement online. Being the Global Learning Coordinator in our school, I look for interesting and worthwhile activities to involve our students so that they feel that they are part of the global community.
Educating and growing global citizens has been my passion from the very beginnings of my career, and even more so after the discovery of eTwinning – the amazing European platform where teachers get together to found and run educational projects between schools. eTwinning is easy to implement in any environment, if there is a wish. For Moldova, a non-EU country in eastern Europe, where possibilities are fewer than in other European countries (in the educational field as well), eTwinning was and still is a way out, a way of getting truly connected to the world by doing nice things together for our children.
Global Collaboration Week provided on their site a wide list of events registered for this year’s celebration, and teachers could select the ones that suited their students’ age and curriculum, as well as subjects taught.
I can’t tell how happy I was on the first day of the week when I met my colleagues and they had read my email with instructions and resources, appreciated them and thanked for the useful links provided.
Monday started with lots of global events in our school.
Teachers selected short-term asynchronous projects to be run during the week. Personally, I started the Global Cookies project with my lower secondary students in the eTwinning club on Monday afternoon. We discussed favourite cookies, ate our favourite ones, found our country on the world map, pinned our place and posted photos there, together with the description of our likes. We could explore together other schools’ favourites, and came to the conclusion that the chocolate chip cookies are children’s favourite cookies though. Children left my eTwinning club with smiles on their faces – the activity definitely worth our time and dedication!
As our principal, Robert Ford, was in the UK to do some work with the British Council, we had a video conference with some teachers from Emerson’s Green Primary school in South Glouchestershire, where Mr.Ford was visiting, in order to plan a future eTwinning project together. Our lovely first graders had a short talk with the British ‘virtual guests’.
Tuesday got even more teachers at Heritage into the global marathon! Some colleagues chose to speak about homes, food, schools, classrooms. For my Tuesday eTwinning Club with the upper secondary students, I chose the Global Cookies project, as well as Class-to-Class K12 Global Connections, where my students introduced themselves, spoke about their school, why being global citizens is important and whether their classroom is global or not. They used VoiceThread to do this – an amazing tool that let them record videos, write text messages or record audio comments. We got to watch/listen/read other students’ posts from various corners of the world, starting with Brazil and USA and ending with India and Australia. Kids could see different classrooms, accents, traditions and lives in general. What an amazingly varied and beautiful global community we live in!
Class-to-class K12 global connections
Wednesday came with a big surprise for my students! I was invited by my eTwinning partner from Finland, Antti Piiroinen, to join a Quizizz game on European Day of Languages that was to be celebrated next day. Antti created an event on eTwinning Live, so many teachers from all Europe joined. When the game started, 350 students from eTwinning countries were in it. I can’t describe the feelings that took hold of my classroom during that lesson – the excitement and adrenaline of my students prevailed during the whole game with their European counterparts! We played synchronically, so it was remarkable that Antti could gather so many schools playing his quiz as the same time. Our best result was Emilia’s – our grade 6 student that got ranked 16 out of 350! Not bad, on the eve of European Day of Languages, the day when we would explore and learn more about the European languages.
Thursday was the most important day of this Global Collaboration Week – we not only celebrated global collaboration, but also got to celebrate the diversity and beauty of the languages spoken in Europe! Students started making posters for EDL from the beginning of the week, so in the morning we proudly posted them all on the walls of the school, and a vast majority of teachers (according to possibility) made use of the amazing collection of resources designed by the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, Austria. The day of September 26 was selected by the Council of Europe as the day to celebrate languages and the ECML site offers amazing resources for educators to use on the occasion. My brilliant colleagues used many of these, starting with the primary section and finishing in the secondary, while language teachers in our school felt empowered to use them in their language of instruction.
As for my part, the European Day of Languages was a very busy one, as I got to have finally arranged three video conferences for my students: the first one was with an eTwinning ambassador from Armenia. My grade 7 students were surprised to discover a big class of 30 students and some teachers as observers in the Armenian class. Still, our students got to interact, discuss about the languages spoken in our respective countries and schools, customs, traditions, weather, food and favourite school subjects. As a pre-project stage with Armenia, I would say our students on both sides were brilliant! My Armenian colleague, Liana Karapetyan, was worried about her students being in a video conference for the first time, while I knew my students love such experiences,as I expose them often to virtual meetings with colleagues from other schools. Lovely experience and I am looking forward to working with Liana this year in aproject,too.
The second video conference was between Moldova, Romania and Greece, with my former eTwinning partners – Marika Emese Cimpean and Barbara Zandraveli, as well as their students. We managed to play an online quiz about the European languages and to have a video chat after, discussing schools, countries, languages and weather.
In the third video conference, my students talked to their principal, who was in the UK on the day. We have been holding video conferences on the day with Mr.Ford for several years now, so we decided not to break the tradition and have a chat to celebrate our respective mother tongues – English and Romanian. Mr.Ford spoke Romanian to us, we spoke English to him. My students discovered the huge library and painting collection of our principal in his work cabin at his home, told him details about their day and the global collaboration week at Heritage.
Later, I went outside with my class to write in coloured chalk on the school yard ‘Global Collaboration Week’ so that every member of the Heritage community could remember these days. We managed to get inside before the rain started again, but the big letters are still there, despite the rain, to remind us of the wonderful days at the end of September.
Friday was the last day of the GCW, but not the last day of our global collaborations for sure. It is only the beginning! With these thoughts in mind, I planned the last video conference for Friday. My IPC students in the E class had the possibility to interact with students from our partner school from Chichester, in the south of England. They had a virtual tour of the English school, and as we discuss fitness and healthy eating in the IPC unit, my students had the chance to see how the English kids have their PE lessons straight in their gym, they could ask about their eating habits and favourite food. They visited virtually many classrooms, talking to students of different ages and seeing how the English kids have their lessons in various subjects. Amazing virtual field trip! Many thanks to Mr.Steve Apsey for introducing us to his students and showing around his school.
I am extremely grateful for discovering always people that inspire. In this case, I would like to thank Ms.Lucy Gray from Global Collaboration Week, for organizing events on global scale that get so many wonderful people together. And when we care for the young people, we care for our own future,too. As Kofi Annan once said, “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts off from its youth severs its lifeline.”
This week, our Heritage community got together in the same dance of global collaboration to weave amazing pieces of work and the result was felt, as I was walking on the halls at the end of the day – the atmosphere of the celebration of our team work was felt even after many of our students had already left the grounds. For which I am totally grateful to my remarkable colleagues on all floors and in all classrooms of Heritage school. How it was perceived by the global community, once can see here: https://twitter.com/EducationHis
Of course, all good things have good endings – Heritage International School, as well as the teachers who got involved into international projects for the GCW 2019 received their certificates. Small things that count…
Yes, Heritage is an international school, not just for the amazing multicultural community it has, but also for the wonderful things that take place inside the beautifully coloured school at the outskirts of Chisinau.
As I am reflecting on the ending week, a favourite quote comes to my mind: “If you don’t love what you do, you have two choices: You can either change what you’re doing, or you can change what you love.” (Billy Cox)
The choice made is always up to us.