1 A Guide to International School Partnerships
3 A Guide to International School Partnerships 2008
4 ALBERTA EDUCATION CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION DATA Alberta. Alberta Education. International Education Branch. A guide to international school partnerships / Alberta Education. ISBN International education. 2. Student exchange programs Alberta. 3. Education International cooperation. 4. Education and globalization. I. Title. LC1090 A For further information, contact: Alberta Education International Education Branch 2nd Floor, 44 Capital Boulevard Street NW Edmonton, Alberta T5J 5E6 Telephone: in Edmonton or toll-free in Alberta by dialling Fax: This resource is available on the Alberta Education Web site at naleducation/schooltwinnings.aspx. The primary audience for this resource is: Teachers Administrators Students Parents Several Web sites external to Alberta Education are listed in this resource. These sites are listed as a service only to identify potentially useful ideas for teaching and learning. Alberta Education is not responsible for maintaining these external sites, nor does the listing of these sites constitute or imply endorsement of their content. The Crown and its agents, employees or contractors will not be liable for any direct or indirect damages arising from the use of any of these sites. The responsibility to evaluate these sites rests with the user. Note: All Web site addresses were confirmed as accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change. Copyright 2008, the Crown in Right of Alberta, as represented by the Minister of Education. Alberta Education, International Education Branch, 2nd Floor, 44 Capital Boulevard, Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5J 5E6. Every effort has been made to provide proper acknowledgement of original sources. If cases are identified where this has not been done, please notify Alberta Education so appropriate corrective action can be taken. Permission is given by the copyright owner to reproduce this resource for educational purposes and on a nonprofit basis, with the exception of materials cited for which Alberta Education does not own copyright. Permission is also granted for sharing the electronic files via network capabilities at the school or jurisdiction level.
5 A Guide to International School Partnerships iii Acknowledgements Alberta Education would like to thank the many individuals who contributed to the development of this resource, including those listed below. Members of Alberta s International Education Advisory Council (particularly the following committee representatives) Ann Calverley Edmonton School District No. 7 Emilie DeCorby Edmonton Catholic Separate School District No. 7 Dave Driscoll Horizon School Division No. 67 Max Lindstrand Battle River Regional Division No. 31 Sheila McLeod Calgary School District No. 19 Hugh McPherson Red Deer Catholic Regional Division No. 39 Rob Porkka Red Deer Public School District No. 104 Nathalie Tremblay Calgary School District No. 19 Development and Writing Team InPraxis Consulting Patricia Shields Ramsey Doug Ramsey Contributing Writer Lisa Lozanski Alberta Education Staff International Education Branch Waldemar Riemer Director Lisa Lozanski Senior Advisor/Project Manager Melissa Blevins Administrative Assistant
6 iv A Guide to International School Partnerships Learning and Teaching Resources Branch Catherine Walker Resource Manager Ron Sperling Resource Manager Scott Trueman Digital Resource Manager Kim Blevins Document Production Coordinator Jackie Mosdell Editor Chris Ewanchuk Proofreader Esther Yong Desktop Publisher Dianne Moyer Desktop Publisher Lee Harper Desktop Publisher Sandra Mukai Copyright Cross-branch Review Team Carmen Stuart Education Manager, French Language Services Branch Jennifer Dolecki Program Manager, Mathematics, Curriculum Branch Cheryl Przybilla Program Manager, Social Studies, Curriculum Branch Karen Shipka Manager of Technology Research, Stakeholder Technology Branch Lynda Burgess Education Manager, Stakeholder Technology Branch Greg Kuzniuk Public Affairs Officer, Communications Branch Strategic Support Raja Panwar Gilbert Guimont Executive Director, Resource Sector Director, French Language Services Branch A special thank you is reserved for the educators whose partnership projects and activities are profiled in this resource. These people are leaders in the field of international education, and we are grateful to be able to share their vision and innovative thinking with educators around the province and around the world.
7 A Guide to International School Partnerships v Table of Contents Acknowledgements... iii Introduction... 1 Chapter 1: Why Engage in an International School Partnership?... 3 What are the benefits of international school partnerships?... 3 Students... 3 Teachers and Administrators... 4 Parents or Guardians and the Community... 5 To Ponder... 5 To Do... 5 Chapter 2: What Is an International School Partnership?... 7 What can an international school partnership look like?... 7 Who should be involved in a partnership?... 8 To Ponder To Do Chapter 3: How Do I Locate a Partner? To Ponder To Do Chapter 4: What Makes a Partnership Successful? What are the characteristics of a successful international school partnership? Sustainability To Ponder To Do... 16
8 vi A Guide to International School Partnerships Chapter 5: How Can International School Partnerships Support Curriculum? How can partnerships support learning? What do curriculum-based activities within an international school partnership or initiative look like? Second Languages Art Language Arts Social Studies Science and Mathematics Cross-curricular Opportunities A Dedicated Curriculum Cross-curricular Methodologies How can curriculum connections be planned within an international school partnership or initiative? To Ponder To Do Chapter 6: How Can International School Partnerships Enhance Cocurricular and Extracurricular Activities? How do partnerships support the development of the school community? In what cocurricular and extracurricular settings are international school partnership activities situated? Exchange Programs Cooperative Education In-school Initiatives To Ponder To Do Chapter 7: How Can Technology Facilitate Partnerships? What role can technology play in an international school partnership? How can technology be managed? To Ponder To Do... 45
9 A Guide to International School Partnerships vii Chapter 8: Resources Project Ideas and Cross-cultural Interaction Exchanges Technology Appendix: Sample Partnership Agreement Sample Partnership Agreement between School A and School B Notes... 57
11 A Guide to International School Partnerships Introduction Our kids can talk with kids all over the world all the time, with MSN, over all these different mediums. But to take it to the next level, where it s a learning experience I think that s when we start to maybe see a little bit of the pat answers go away and the kids can get into these real conversations that I think are pretty valuable. 1 1 With the advent of faster and widely accessible information, communication and transportation technologies, we are living in an era where our actions increasingly influence and are influenced by realities in other parts of the world. 2 Truly understanding our own communities, province and country requires gaining a deep understanding of the relationships of interdependence they have with the rest of the world. Global knowledge can no longer be associated with a small group of worldly people, as it once was, but is now basic and requisite for individuals to make sense of their everyday lives. 3 In an effort to connect students to the world and provide them with global insight, many schools and classrooms across Alberta, and indeed across the world, are engaging in international school partnerships. These partnerships take different forms, from short-term, project-based partnerships between two classes of students, to long-term, ongoing relationships between two schools. The so-called success of a partnership can be difficult to define, as it depends on the purpose and motivations underlying the partnership s establishment; however, a review of the literature and a scan of existing partnerships in Alberta suggest that certain methods of organizing and managing partnerships can maximize their educational value.
12 2 A Guide to International School Partnerships This guide highlights these findings and has been developed to support Alberta schools and classrooms as they develop and maintain partnerships with schools abroad. The guide: describes various types of partnerships outlines the key steps involved in initiating partnerships identifies common partnership challenges and suggests mitigating strategies explains how partnership outcomes can link with those of Alberta programs of study discusses how partnerships can enhance cocurricular and extracurricular activities explores the role that technology can play in developing and enhancing partnerships provides a list of resources that support international school partnership initiatives.
13 CHAPTER 3 Why Engage in an International School Partnership? This chapter explores the benefits of international school partnerships to different partners and individuals involved in the educational environment; e.g., students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. To Ponder and To Do sections are provided to encourage those involved to clarify their reasons for engaging in an international school partnership. Part ner ship A relationship between individuals or groups that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, for the achievement of a specified goal. What are the benefits of international school partnerships? International school partnerships provide a wide range of opportunities for all involved, from the enrichment of educational experiences and the broadening of school culture, to pedagogical dialogue. Students, teachers, administrators, parents and communities all stand to benefit from international school partnerships, albeit in different ways. Students In a society bombarded by stereotypical images and negative and dramatic media, partnerships provide students with the opportunity to learn about another country or culture from the people who know it best those that live and study there. As students engage with primary sources of information, they begin to question previously held assumptions, evaluate media biases and develop a greater appreciation for difference. While learning about another place and way of life, students are often forced to reflect upon their own lives. International school partnerships provide opportunities for Alberta students to research, discuss and consider their own identities.
14 4 A Guide to International School Partnerships Partnerships illustrate the concept of global interconnectedness in a tangible way. Conversing with their partners on issues of common concern can deepen Alberta students understanding of international issues and enhance their sense of active citizenship at local, national and international levels. By incorporating collaborative learning activities, partnerships encourage students to locate and explore common ground and develop cooperative learning skills. Partnerships also bring a unique intercultural element to collaborative learning activities. While learning with and from their peers in other countries, Alberta students develop and hone cross-cultural communication and diplomacy skills. Teachers and Administrators Relationships among staff members are strengthened as school staff identify and work toward the achievement of common goals and outcomes for an international school partnership. An international school partnership or initiative provides the impetus for the establishment of international professional learning communities. Alberta administrators may choose to connect with the partner school s administration to discuss approaches, strategies and challenges of school management. Similarly, teachers may dialogue with other educators about their experiences in the classroom and share ideas about how to enhance learning. International school partnerships provide teachers who are skilled at, or interested in, international relations, language and culture with an opportunity to use their skills or explore an area of personal interest. As international school partnerships involve students in engaging, authentic and motivating activities, they open doors for teachers to use diverse and differentiated approaches to support student learning. Peer connections made through partnerships also help teachers engage hard-to-reach children from diverse sociocultural backgrounds and with diverse academic abilities.
15 A Guide to International School Partnerships 5 The International Student Program of Golden Hills School Division No. 75 attracted a number of students from China to study at Drumheller Composite High School. Unfamiliar with international students in general, and with Chinese culture in particular, members of the Drumheller community were unsure of how to engage with these students. To build links between the students and the community, a number of events were organized, including a Christmas supper and a Chinese New Year celebration. These events provided an opportunity for each party to learn more about the traditions of the other. These activities were not held in the context of school-toschool or class-to-class partnership; however, Alberta schools, in collaboration with their international partners, can organize similar events to develop greater cultural awareness and sensitivity within their communities. Parents or Guardians and the Community Parents engage directly in educational processes by helping their children with partnership-related schoolwork, attending international school partnership functions and supporting partnership exchange programs; e.g., chaperoning, billeting. Partnerships provide opportunities for parents who have relevant cultural, linguistic or travel experience to share their experiences in the classroom. International school partnerships encourage a better understanding of different societies, cultures and religions and an appreciation of such values as social justice, democratic processes, equality and sustainable development. Partnerships also provide a forum in which respect for differences can be explicitly modelled. Extending the outreach of an international school partnership allows new information and ways of thinking to permeate throughout the community. To Ponder Consider how beneficial an international school partnership may be for your school community. How clear are the reasons for involvement in an international school partnership? What are the most compelling reasons? Is there agreement on which reasons are most compelling? To Do Drawing on the general ideas expressed in the above chapter, develop a chart that outlines how a partnership in your school or class could benefit students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. If you are considering partnering with a school or class from a particular country, be specific about how you think a school from that country can enhance learning in your school community. Keep this chart on hand as it may form the rationale for a partnership proposal (see next chapter).
16 6 A Guide to International School Partnerships
17 CHAPTER 7 What Is an International School Partnership? This chapter provides an overview of the concept of international school partnerships to encourage consideration of the variety of forms a partnership can take. The chapter also summarizes those factors that influence the successful establishment of a partnership. Questions and activities are also provided to prompt thinking about the type of partnership that would be most suitable for the local context. What can an international school partnership look like? Grade 3 students from The Hamptons School in Calgary partner with Grade 12 students at Harry S. Truman High School in the Bronx, New York, to form what has become known as the New York Buddy Project. Using Desire2Learn (Calgary School District No. 19 s online learning platform), the Grade 3 students are encouraged to ask mathematics-related questions of their big buddies in New York. The Grade 12 students use the partnership as an opportunity to learn more about conversions from the imperial system to the metric system. For more information on this project, visit cbeglobalconnect.ca. International school partnerships develop in a variety of settings and situations and for a variety of purposes. As such, the following categorization is not exhaustive nor is it meant to be exclusive. Although many Alberta schools and classrooms organize partnerships around one of the following themes, many expand beyond that initial purpose, emphasizing multiple goals and the desire to provide a diverse range of experiences for students. Curriculum support, extension or enrichment. Many international school partnerships that develop around curriculum-based initiatives involve school-to-school or classroom-to-classroom pairings. The focus is on common curriculum experiences. These partnerships facilitate project-based learning through the exchange of student work and ongoing student-to-student communication. Some partnerships evolve into a long-term commitment to a project or program. Second language learning. The desire to provide authentic contexts in which students can develop and practise second language skills provides the motivation for many international school partnerships. These partnerships emphasize communication among students, classrooms and school communities through the exchange of letters, s and visits between countries.
18 8 A Guide to International School Partnerships Students and educators from Talmud Torah School in Edmonton are connected with students and educators at Levha Emek Elementary School and Emek Hchla High School in the Galilee. Contact and communication take place through the Internet, letter writing, videoconferencing and exchange visits to Israel. Through this dialogue with their Israeli counterparts, students in Edmonton begin to understand the complexities of living in confrontation-line communities and, in return, the Israelis learn to appreciate the challenges of living a Jewish life in a multicultural society. For more information on this project, visit epsb.ca/showcase.htm. Exploring culture and identity. International partnerships introduce or deepen a sense of culture. Partnerships expose students to cultures that they may not otherwise come into contact with and strengthen links among communities with common interests, backgrounds, beliefs and cultural or religious identities. Exchange visits, which focus on the exchange of cultural artifacts and the exploration of places and events that reflect cultural identities, are an integral component of partnerships that aim to build cultural awareness and understanding. Development projects or issues. These types of partnerships focus on global inequity and provide an outlet for teachers and students to enact global change. Projects within developmentrelated partnerships encourage students to dialogue on international development issues and, based on their newfound understanding, engage in responsible social action. Who should be involved in a partnership? An effective international school partnership requires committing to a shared philosophy, allocating the necessary time and resources and otherwise supporting partnership activities. When planning a partnership, attaining support and commitment from the following individuals is integral to success. Teachers. Teachers play a key role in the administration of partnerships. They have direct contact with the teacher and students in the partnering school, determine the outcomes for student learning, and plan and guide students through partnership activities.
19 A Guide to International School Partnerships 9 Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Edmonton formed a partnership with the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) in Mexico to ensure students had opportunities to interact with native speakers of Spanish. Before entering into the partnership agreement, Holy Trinity: conducted a survey of their staff to ensure there was full staff support consulted with Spanishlanguage teachers to ensure there was sufficient capacity to communicate with staff from UAG in Spanish liaised with Edmonton Catholic Separate School District No. 7 to use the capacity and expertise at the school jurisdiction level to develop a partnership agreement. Rideau Park students in Calgary are partnered with ChildSpeak Canada. This partnership has afforded students the unique opportunity to regularly interact with students in Sunyani, Ghana. ChildSpeak Canada has an intern in a school in Sunyani who has helped facilitate communication between the two schools and is working to establish an Internet connection so the two schools will be able to videoconference in the future. For more information on this project, visit cbeglobalconnect.ca. Administrators. In school-to-school partnerships, school administrators play an important coordination role, ensuring that teachers are working together to achieve school-wide partnership goals. In all partnership scenarios, administrators encourage, nurture and support teachers as they work to implement collaborative learning activities; e.g., administrators may be able to provide coordinating teachers with funding and/or preparation time so they may organize partnership activities. Administrators are also champions for the partnership within the school, school jurisdiction and community. School jurisdictions. Involving the school jurisdiction benefits the international school partnership in a number of ways. Partnerships can be formed through school jurisdiction level contacts in other countries and can be supported by sponsored initiatives; e.g., language learning or technology initiatives. School jurisdictions coordinate partnerships for their schools and/or encourage dialogue among partnered schools. School jurisdictions also authorize all international travel and so must be supportive of any partnership that may include exchanges or visits abroad. Parents. Parents provide perspectives related to their own cultural backgrounds and identities and so enrich and extend experiences that students have within an international school partnership. Parents also lend organizational and logistical support to the partnership activities that extend beyond the time and space of the traditional classroom; i.e., field trips, earlymorning videoconference sessions, billeting exchange students. Community members. The community is a valuable source of support for partnership activities and the general management of partnerships. University or college professors, community groups or other organizations that have ties to the country of the partner school provide valuable insight into the cultural context and help alleviate cross-cultural miscommunications. Local businesses may be willing to sponsor the partnership or otherwise assist with its promotion. Local chapters of developmental or humanitarian aid agencies may have projects in the country of origin and may be able to assist with the delivery of materials to the partner school. A partnership provides a mechanism through which ongoing links between the school and the community can be strengthened.
20 10 A Guide to International School Partnerships To Ponder What do we envision for an international school partnership for our classroom, school or school jurisdiction? What will it look like? Entering into a partnership can be a big step for a school or class to take. Before initiating contact with a potential partner, consider whether the resources necessary for a successful partnership are in place. Is there interest and buy-in from key players? How much additional work would there be with a partnership and how would that work be distributed? Do staff members have the time required to initiate and sustain the partnership? If there are specialized skills necessary for the partnership, e.g., technical or language skills, are they readily available? To Do Identify the resources, talents and skills that individuals and groups could contribute to a partnership. Explore ways that these resources, talents and skills can support different aspects of a partnership. Contact a school or class that has partnered with a school or class overseas. Ask if they would mind sharing their experience with you and if they have any advice for you as you begin to plan your partnership. Your school jurisdiction may be able to identify other schools in the jurisdiction that have existing partnerships. A list of school partnerships is also available on the Alberta Education Web site at internationaleducation/schooltwinnings.aspx. Form a steering committee or group to lead the planning and implementation of the partnership. As an initial task, have the steering committee develop a brief proposal that clearly identifies the type of partnership being considered. In the proposal, include the chart of benefits, or rationale, that you developed in Chapter 1. If your partnership revolves around a specific international issue, consult with experts on the issue to see how your partnership aligns with or challenges the current research. Outline the goals and priorities of the partnership and the supports required, and identify any requirements that you may have of a partner school. Planning an effective international school partnership involves making advance decisions about the nature and type of partnership you wish to establish. Flexibility and openness to alternative ideas and approaches are also important.
21 CHAPTER 11 How Do I Locate a Partner? This chapter highlights the variety of methods through which international school partnerships are established. Additional steps are suggested that guide the formalization of a partnership once an appropriate partner is found. Although locating a partner school can often seem like a daunting task, especially for those who have limited international networks, a variety of channels are available through which partnerships can be established. School jurisdiction offices. Check with the school jurisdiction to see if it has an international bureau or representative who may be connected with schools from around the world. Brooks Composite High School built on the sister city relationship that existed between Brooks and Hiroo, Japan, by initiating a partnership with Hiroo Senior High School. The partnership has been ongoing for the past 15 years. City or municipality. Some Alberta cities or municipalities have sister cities or municipalities overseas and may be able to leverage these networks to locate a partner school. Developing a partnership with a school in a sister city ensures broad community support and enables the development of complementary activities. Community groups and organizations. Some community groups or organizations have ties to schools in particular regions of the world. Local cultural associations, universities, colleges and nonprofit organizations may connect classes or schools with a school overseas. Internet matching sites. A wide array of Internet sites are available that connect educators and students from around the world. Many of these are created by nonprofit organizations and are free to use (see Chapter 8). Professional networks. Networking with other educators at conferences and professional development workshops helps to communicate an interest in an international school partnership. Educational councils or associations may also have international connections.
22 12 A Guide to International School Partnerships Over 40 Alberta schools have received certificates from the Minister of Education recognizing their partnerships with schools overseas. For more information on these partnerships, visit alberta.ca/students/internati onaleducation/schooltwinnin gs.aspx. Personal networks. Friends and family members with international connections may have a contact who can assist in finding a partner. Alberta Education. Alberta Education works with ministries of education in a number of countries and is willing to assist schools in locating a partner school, wherever possible. Interested Alberta schools may access an application form for Alberta s International School Partnership Program online at internationaleducation/schooltwinnings.aspx. To Ponder Using the list above for reference, brainstorm possible contacts that may help you find a partner class or school. Before accepting a partnership, consider whether you and the potential partner school (as well as any third party involved) have similar goals, expectations and capacity for the partnership. To Do Distribute the proposal you have developed to the contacts you have identified. To formalize commitment for the partnership, you and your partner may wish to develop and sign a partnership agreement. 4 A partnership agreement outlines how the partnership will function and delineates the responsibilities of both partners. It can also include an expressed commitment to curriculum sharing, teacher exchanges, student exchanges and learning activities. A sample partnership agreement is provided in the Appendix.
23 CHAPTER 13 What Makes a Partnership Successful? This chapter highlights the best practices of international school partnerships. It identifies key characteristics of strong partnerships and reflects on how longer-term partnerships are effectively sustained. The chapter encourages partnership organizers to plan for potential challenges and to measure and celebrate partnership successes. What are the characteristics of a successful international school partnership? At the heart of any successful international school partnership are the relationships that evolve among students, teachers, schools and communities. Above all, international school partnerships provide opportunities to learn from others. Partnerships should be carefully planned to avoid issues that encourage reinforcement of assumptions and stereotypes. Effective and successful international school partnerships consider how to best develop purposeful relationships that support learning and the social, emotional and academic growth of students. These partnerships often share the following characteristics. Commitment to the partnership. The contexts in which international school partnerships exist can be diverse. Regardless of what the partnership looks like, it is critical that the overriding outcomes for the partnership are agreed on and that each partner is committed to working toward these outcomes. The possibilities are limitless when partnerships are approached with optimism, enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to the concept.