It all began with a simple global request

A proposed canteen exchange

A proposed canteen exchange

A request came through our HLW Skypers Group asking for teachers to send in photos of a typical school lunchbox.  A year 7 Science class in Germany was .studying healthy foods. Two lunchbox photos were duly taken and emailed to Mr Reinhard Marx who teaches at Staedtische Realschule Sundern.

Our school vegetable garden

Our school vegetable garden

The next request asked the name and location of our school. The link to our school blog was shared. After reading through some posts, Reinhard noticed the post on our vegetable garden and asked whether I could teach his classes about our canteen and  school garden. Using skype from home then Blackboard Collaborate (as it had a far more stable connection), I shared a presentation on our garden, how it is used and our canteen.

Year 8 students  created a podcast on “Drinking Water in Australia” from a rural perspective for German students’ Radio Rasant. It was then suggested by Reinhard that we have a canteen exchange day, where our canteen would have a German food day and they would have an Australian food day. This required bringing the two canteen managers together but neither could speak each others’ language and as I cannot speak German we required an interpretor. As Reinhard was teaching at the appointed time, the Vice Principal from Staedtische Realschule Sundern agreed to interpret for us.

Our German skype partners

Our German skype partners

At 4pm  my time and 8am German time, we videoconferenced each other using skype. After the introductions, Leanna (our canteen manager) shared some foods that she thought were Australian in flavour that they could cook and their manager in turn shared the recipe suggestions for us. Pauses in conversations had to be made whilst the language had to be translated.

Pausing to interpret

Pausing to interpret

All the time, the German class who were studying English were in the background, working away quietly.

Our demonstration foods

Our demonstration foods

Our suggestions included:-

  • a homemade Aussie meat pie (with sauce) Upon sharing a pie with the webcam, the question was asked as to its filling. Leanna replied meat and gravy but gravy took a bit to interpret.
  • a bread roll with vegemite and cheese (vegemite aroused curiousity as to its texture and use)
  • a recipe for Shepherd’s pie
  • stir fry (as we are a multicultural society and have many Asian countries as our neighbours. However the German canteen manager was not sure whether they could source the ingredients as their school is rural and Chinese people tend to live in the large cities.)
  • a caramel slice with chocolate icing ( a favourite morning recess treat)
  • a coffee scroll
  • recipe for Anzac biscuits
Aussie meat pie

Aussie meat pie

In turn, they

  • suggested a casserole of meatballs topped with mashed potatoes
  • explained a vegetable dish
  • displayed the two different types of German bread rolls that they sell during morning recess and shared the typical toppings.
  • showed a chocolate muffin (very popular with students). We will swap muffin recipes as we also sell them.
Different bread rolls

Different bread rolls

As a handwritten recipe was displayed over the web camera for Shepherd’s Pie, we were asked to write it in full (with no abbreviations). The recipes will be emailed across in English. Their students will be given the task of interpreting the recipes into German for use in the canteen. (Great realistic project!)

I had invited my Principal to be part of the linkup.  He was suitably impressed and will share the videoconference and canteen proposal in our school community newsletter tomorrow to share with the broader community. This reinforces the notion that we share our learning and proposals with leadership, families and community to keep them fully informed and give a feeling of being part of the project.

Our sample foods

Our sample foods

Reinhard also asked how to decorate the tables in the German canteen. We would suggest eucalyptus leaves but do not know if they are available where they live. It is hoped that we can send some Aussie flags, some small souveneirs etc for them to use. What would you suggest?

The highlights

  • an innovative extension of initial skype linkups
  • Spreading connetions and learning beyond actual classrooms and spreading as offshoots into the general school community. This shows the power that technology can bring.
  • speaking through an interpretor
  • Being a  guest in a class of German students, who were in the background and watching them work in their classroom, whilst their teacher and canteen manager  talked to us in the foreground.
  • learning how similar students are across the globe

The challenges

  • skype was flakey and our audio dropped at times an our video was pixellated, despite our German partners being clear with both audio and video. The video was switched off periodically to kick start a clearer connection.

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