Day 2 spent at No 27 Beijing school was another day of learning about the Chinese culture and history. It started with breakfast in the Dining Hall, followed by formal classes in our allocated classroom.
Each class had a Chinese teacher and usually an interpreter. The interpreter was one of the Chinese teachers who taught English in the school. The first class of the day was a handicrafts class. Students were taught the importance of and history of Chinese knots. We were then provided with threads, pins, beads and a foam placemat and taught how to tie a variety of knots to produce a bracelet. Examples of beautiful handcrafted Chinese knotting were also displayed.
Martial arts in the playground followed. The weather was warm and humid and these were not easy skills to master. Whilst we were learning, other physical education groups were involved in marching activities in other corners of the playground. Lunch was then provided with a noon break for us. Paper cutting in the art room involved using stencils to cut out shapes. Students were then encouraged to create their own paper cutouts, then to cut out their Chinese birth year animal.
A favourite activity amongst some of the boys was the flight simulator. We were taken to a computer lab where impressive flight simulators were located, together with desktop computers with flight programs on. Most of us kept crashing our planes soon after take off!! One clever student had built his own drone and demonstrated its use.
After school we were treated to Chinese folk music in the auditorium, where we could listen to and see many of the traditional Chinese musical instruments. This was followed by an Evening Reception.
On the second night of our stay at Beijing no 27 school, hosting students, our students and staff, family members and several staff from no 27 were treated to a school evening reception. A number of welcome speeches were made.
The evening was hosted by the Secretary and chaired by Eric, a Mongolian student who also acted as interpreter for us all.
A selection of traditional Chinese musical instruments were demonstrated by skilled Chinese students.
Australian students were able to attempt playing the instruments. An evening banquet meal was enjoyed by us all.
Every second year our school organises a trip to China, as mandarin Chinese is taught as our second language. Part of this trip involves a four or five day visit to our sister school at no 27 Beijing. It is offered to students in years 9 and above.
I am fortunate to be one of the supervising teachers in attendance. There are 11 students, 2 staff and four adults who are related to the students. On arrival at the airport, we were met by Mr Wan who picked us up and took us by bus to no 27 school where we were greeted to our official welcome, early lunch and then attended classes. We were given a home room where most of the classes took place.
On that first day, our classes included:
Students were then greeted by their host familes who came to the school to pick them up and take them to their homes for four nights. This really pushes students outside their comfort zones as English may not be spoken by the parents or may be very limited. Their homes are tiny compared to our large Australian homes and most Chinese students slept on a couch so that our students could have a bed. The girls especially showed some nervousness about this. All but two families had one child.
The school then treated our staff and adults to a sumptuous meal at a local restaurant where we enjoyed amongst other amazing dishes – the famous Peking or Beijing Duck. The duck was carved in front of us by the chef!
When classes from two different countries and cultures connect or collaborate for the first time, it can be very difficult to determine the names and gender of the students involved.
My school had a Chinese language assistant teacher from Shanghai for 12 months several years ago. She introduced herself as Wang Yi,so we called her Wang but after she had left we realised her first name was actually Yi!!! We had been calling her by her last name.
There will be differences in the order of names. In Australia we state our first names followed by our surnames (or last names). In China, students’ last names (or family names) come first then their first name. Some Indian citizens do not have even have a last name just their first name or name of their father which is carried down through generations.
When classes do connect and collaborate for the first time, it is essential for success that teachers share student details with clear headings for first and last (family) name. Pronunciation of the name using a audio would be useful. Gender should also be shared, as foreign names may not convey whether they are a boy or a girl.
If using webconferencing software such as skype, polycom videoconferencing, ghangouts, zoom etc, signs or printouts showing the name of the student (and pronunciation if possible) could be used as the student comes up to the camera.
What tips and hints do you have? How else do names differ around the world?
Lorraine Leo from the USA and Yoshiro Myata, Japan, the founder of the World Museum Project requested us to compose messages for “Peace Across the World” for the World Peace Song project partners at the beginning of the peace workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, February 3.
As time was short, students in year 7 were asked to compile their thoughts. It was then shared as a text update on the World Museum Edmodo networking site. Following is the collaborative message from my students:
Peace is awesome. Peace is the most wonderful thing to share with the world and is definitely something we need more of. It is about giving, helping each other out, enjoying ourselves and others and not fighting. Peace is when everybody is happy and working as a team. Peace is what we all want and shows with happiness and laughter all around the world.
What would your message be?
The class from India
“Advent, Christmas and New Year” was the title of a google hangout organised by Reinhard Marx of Germany. Five countries were involved:- Germany, Sweden, France, India and Australia. As school was still in for the other four countries, students from classes there presented on the theme. As students have finished school in Victoria, I shared what Christmas and New Year looks like here. Although we are increasingly becoming a multi-cultural country, Christmas is still our major festival and a special time for family gatherings.
It is rather surreal to sit in the classrooms of students across the world, from different countries and cultures. It was winter over in Europe so students were warmly dressed. It was hot in Hawkesdale – 38 degrees so I was dressed appropriately. The French students wore their Santa hats, some classes sang carols in their own language most shared presentations and enabled us to see how it was similar and different in our own countries. We may use different names for Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Nicholas etc and we may celebrate Christmas and New Year on different dates, but many of us eat the same traditional foods, follow similar customs and the same carols.
The French Class
Of most interest was the class from India whom many would associate with the Hindu religion but there are areas of India, (where the British predominantly settled) that are Christian in nature. Their different religions and cultures tend to be quite tolerant of each other, with Hindu and Muslim people wishing Christians a “Happy Christmas”.
I strongly feel that we need to hold on to our culture, celebrate our traditions, maintain the stories over the generations and share with others. We can develop empathy and understanding, tolerance and develop a culture of peace. Many governments and departments are trying to stay politically correct and ban or prevent the Christmas traditions in school, the work place and community in case it should offend others. However, all cultures should be able to celebrate their festival days and share with their fellow country people without fear!
The Swedish class
Thank you Reinhard for this wonderful event. I learned so much about the history behind Advent, Christmas and New Year and the celebrations in other countries.
What major festivals do you celebrate? How do you celebrate them? Watch this video on Christmas in Australia, put together by a year 7 student last year.
Global Collaboration Day was celebrated on September 17th. Tech Talk Tuesdays weekly webinar series took place on a Thursday to be part of this great day. The topic for conversation was “Best Approaches to Global Collaboration” and the direction of the conversations were chosen by the participants.
The participants came from five countries – Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and USA but they came from a broad section of educational tiers and layers – community members, universities, schools, special interest groups including “Gifted Students”, “Toastmasters” etc. This variety of experiences and interests led to rich discussions. We shared what we could see outside our windows while we were waiting and then shared pictures of what it was like where we live.
Some of the topics raised for potential discussion included:
- how much collaboration is enough!
- why it is so important to collaborate globally!
- Is there a taxonomy for collaboration reqirements, that help us map tools to requirements and simplify the choices?
- breaking down the fear barriers for real time collaboration across the globe
- best strategies of social media
- learn more of Yoshiro’s World Museum and Mystery Skype
- managing of discussions in a global workplace
Why collaborate globally was the first topic for discussion. Some of the responses included:
- to understand the many common experiences, issues and concerns we all have no matter where we live.
- Breakout of the ethnocentric perspective to work together for collaboratively
- Our lives are supported by the whole earth – need to develop gratitude and contributing minds.
- Learn beyond the textbook
- To build understanding and empathy between cultures
- Broaden the experiences
- we collaborate to broaden our world, if we avoid global collaboration, then our world shrinks.
- fun, time coverage, interesting people, access specialist knowledge, understand cultural implications, save travel costs, create holiday opportunities
Ideas for “Breaking down the fear factors for collaborating across the world”. (Some of the mentioned fears included: loss of control, accents, languages – not being able to speak eg English well enough, cultural challenges, technology confidence, bandwidth/infrastructure etc)
- in the World Museum Projects kids love to create interesting fun projects, without using too much language. They can share their projects with people around the world . They get to know each other Scratch. They get interested in each other and feel easier about communicating.
- turn the camera off – helps them to be less shy
- practise a videoconference call with just one person
- watch video recordings, read blogs of people who have already done it.
- have images and signage ready to share to ensure understanding
- attend Professional Development sessions with encouraging mentor figures
- use text chat where possible to support video and/or audio connections
- sharing idioms and common sayings to compare languages
- Always have a support check list along with the training
- Share quick ‘how tos’
- Provide easy to follow tutorials
- side by side assistance in the one place
- provide alternative times for both hemispheres
- ask about the different cultural protocols
- participate in twitter chats
- show best way to converse in a face book group
- introduce speech craft lessons before conversing online – breaks down fear of talking in virtual rooms or videoconferencing
- practise talking to each other – learn from the different languages, accents, cultures. Use any chat feature or signage to ensure understanding
- Just try it!
How do we get started?
- find out what others want
- first step is just wanting to engage
- where there is a gap in the educational services, explore how to use it collaboratively.
- In the World Museum site, Yoshiro starts with a World Friends Project in which the students draw themselves doing their favourite activities as a way of introduction.
- MOOCs can be a popular way of learning. Seeking out one of these helps to understand collaborative learning.
- find out what equipment/tools you will need
- make sure it is within your school’s acceptable user policy to have students on camera
- Cybraryman has a page for most educational uses/issues.
- there are many great global projects to be involved in. See these crowd sourced documents for some of them Global Projects for Beginners and Global Projects: Where to Begin?
- Think about the purpose of connecting with another classroom and plan your conversations and activities around this.
- Need to explore what kind of collaborations you need.
Best Practise of Social Media
- Social media is seen as those online tools that enable connections among many at any time.
- Using the right tool for the purpose in mind, eg linkedin for professional connections, facebook for community sharing in groups
- as educators we need to understand the limitations such as cultural equipment, access etc Once we have an appreciation of this,
- World Museum uses Scratch website with forums, voicethread, wikis, edmodo, voicethread
- Cross generational collaboration is useful because older students can support and facilitate the younger students eg students in Ann Marie Park’s university often help primary students work on their projects as well as communicating with overseas partners.
- understand that you are managing a community
- be aware that many social media tools may be blocked in some countries
What would your answers be to some of these questions? Which responses do you support, which would you challenge?