Global Partners Project

Global Partners project expands to more elementary schools

We may not be able to travel right now but thanks to technology, Grade 5/6 students from a number of OCDSB schools are making connections around the world as part of OCENET’s Global Explorers program. Initiated last May with students from Castor Valley ES, the project has now expanded to involve classes at Half Moon Bay and Pleasant Park schools.

With a focus on better understanding each other's cultures and coming up with solutions to global issues as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, these students are actively collaborating with learners from Chengdu, China.

Students and educators involved in the Global Partners project use an app platform called Padlet for easily sharing ideas, video and resources between Ottawa and Chengdu partner schools. In the image above, several OCENET staff members can be seen participating in a tutorial on best practices for using Padlet

Over several virtual gatherings, the 23 students in Ms. Karen Snell’s Grade 5 class at Pleasant Park PS have engaged with students from Shude Elementary and their teachers, Ms. Niki, Ms. Sepal and Ms. Lily. The first meeting started with introductions and sharing their favourite objects which was met with enthusiasm and many questions. In the words of teacher Ms. Snell: “(The students) have already started to feel a connection with the students from Chengdu after just one meeting. They had so many exciting observations and reflections to share (if it were up to them they would meet every week — everyday for some!).” Building on the successful first meeting, students shared aspects of different cultural celebrations including photos, fireworks, food, and a live demonstration of paper cutting to mark Lunar New Year.

A visit from the Chinese Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister, Ms. Chen Mingjian, was well received and generated many fantastic questions. In addition to future meetings, Ms. Snell’s students will have the chance to learn Chinese through the OCDSB’s International and Indigenous Language Program.

“It was very interesting to learn about what they [the Chengdu students] like there and how it’s still similar to what we do here in some ways, but in some other ways, we do things very differently.”
- Student, Grade 5, Pleasant Park PS

The response by both students and parents has been very positive. In the view of one Pleasant Park student: “It was very interesting to learn about what they like to do there and how it’s still similar to what we do here, but in some other ways we do things very differently.” Parents too are seeing the benefits of this type of international connection: "Our son is not typically very expressive but he had so much to tell us after he left the meeting, including how to say "hello" in Chinese. We wish to thank you for making the world a little smaller for our students and providing them with this opportunity to see the similarities between themselves and children from another country and culture."

Across the city at Half Moon Bay PS, principal Ms. Aisling O’Donnell was one of a group of OCDSB educators who travelled to Chengdu in 2019 to sign a friendship school agreement. Part of this connection has been the sharing between nine enthusiastic students in Mr. Darryl Smith’s Grade 6 class and students in Ms. Crystal and Ms. Tiffany's classes at Panda Road Elementary School.

Global Partnership

The first virtual gathering gave students the chance to share their interests including favourite books, sports, foods, shows and hobbies. Another meeting focused on traditions and different ways of celebrating — with OCDSB students learning about the many aspects of Lunar New Year and several phrases in Mandarin. A third gathering allowed students to discuss and share solutions to various global issues, from ending homelessness to protecting the environment and taking care of our oceans and animals. Mr. Smith sees the benefits of the Global Partners project for his students: “The Grade 6 students at Half Moon Bay have been excited by this opportunity. They are eager to connect, share, and discuss their ideas with students from another culture, another country. They have begun to make connections, finding common interests in literature, history, science and food.”

Framing the learning around the United Nations sustainable goals allows for greater independent learning that adds depth and personal context to the process.

by Sean Oussoren, International Education Coordinator

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