School and Classroom Program
School and Classroom Program
One example of PTPI's educational activities is the rewarding School and Classroom Program (SCP), created in 2002 in an effort to use a classroom setting to enhance students' knowledge of the world and to build friendships around the globe.
Teachers of primary, middle and secondary classrooms, as well as custodians of kindergartens, youth clubs and groups (with students ages 4-18) are invited to register each year from July – October for this free service that links youth groups in different countries, for example for pen pal exchanges through traditional paper letters or email messages or for multifarious other projects.
Therefore, SCP pairs teachers and their students with classrooms/groups comprised of similar‐age students and number of pupils in other countries. (It is possible to indicate a preference list of three favorite partner countries.) - In Europe, currently there are around 100 schools participating in the program.
Two classrooms form a "classroom partnership", working on common project(s), or even multiple classrooms contribute to a single project. Typically partnerships last a school year, but many teachers continue to work together for years.
Partner teachers then conduct introductions, choose projects for students to work on, and develop a timeline for interaction over the course of the school year. To support this, PTPI provides participating teachers with a manual that offers guidance, tips for communication and project ideas.
Furthermore, assistance is available through the program director to teachers who qualify. (The participation at the program is for free, the only costs classrooms/ teachers are responsible for are the expenses associated with the respective activities, e.g. the project materials, sending of letters/ packages to their partner classes.)
More details and the information on how to register you find on: PTPI's website
"Thanks to PTPI, my students are corresponding with students from California and Florida, which is great because they represent two different perspectives and contexts. This experience taught me a lot, and now I'm curious to have new experiences with other teachers from different states. My students would also like to have new friends. Thank you very much again for the valuable job you're doing."
Brahim Elkhalil Afaichil, Teacher, Morocco
Examples of projects:
Pen pal exchanges: Groups may communicate via email, postal mail or both. Samples of popular topics to write about are items or ideas found in all cultures, like typical, country/region-specific toys, tools, a mid-day meal, playing games, greeting people, people dancing, people working, an important possession, an elder, or houses/homes.
Also students can gather stories and folklore unique to their region that emphasize good moral values such as kindness, honesty, respect, friendship, and hard work. These are exchanged between the classes by email, or as an assembly in book, for which students can create a book cover and illustrations for the tales.
Another interesting way of exchange is the creation and sending of a recipe book, in which students include images of the food and their favorite cooking recipes that also represent each classroom's culture or region.
In "The Changing Seasons Through Your Eyes and Ours" project, partner classrooms can exchange and compare/contrast the seasonal changes they observe in their local environment with regard to plant life, temperature, seasons, sunrise and sunset.
Or they research the "Wonders of the World" and share significant monuments or accomplishments of their country with their partner classroom.
In the "Hometown" or "Friendship Quilts"-projects students create a wall exhibit/ scrapbook about their partner classroom's hometown by exchanging items (e.g. pictures, photographs, newspapers, advertisements, bulletins, maps with explanations and descriptions) or a quilt with squares depicting themselves, their school, culture and country from fabric, mixed materials, or digital technology. After the exchange of the material and its exhibition in each school to commemorate the friendship established, students can discuss how their partner classroom's hometown is similar and different from their own.
A further project to foster the understanding of and insights in different countries culture, history, peoples lifestyles as well as of worldwide commonalities is found in the "Multiplicity of Music Project", where students collect music from their home countries from different time periods to tape on audiocassettes, comment on dates and musical styles and therefore create a short chronological music history.
Another project enhancing the understanding of worldwide commonalities is the "Everyone Smiles in the Same Language" project in which can realize everyone, no matter their origin or location, smiles in the same language. - All people experience humor and happiness and these feelings are not limited by culture, race, language, age or gender.
Exchange Photographs of smiles -- their own, their pets, their families, and their friends, etc. – with explanations of who is smiling and why. Older students can also compose "Gratitude Journals" about the things or actions that make them smile.
Another prominent project is the creation of "Global Youth Murals".
This program invites students from all around the world to create artwork that illustrates their cultures, communities and their ideas about friendship and "peace through understanding."
These Murals are regularly exhibited at PTPI's annual Global Youth Forum and internationally at other locations (e.g. in public agencies and other schools).
Also the "Peace Gardens" is an enriching project. Here, partner classrooms each plant a garden of hope and beauty that symbolizes their country is alive and growing. Through the exchange of short reports and photographs of their gardens, in this project, students not only learn about the plants and optimal care conditions of their own garden, but also about the plants, conditions and gardening procedures used in their partner classroom's garden.
- Students in Tatyana Tourkiya's classroom at Gorodische School #3 in Russia pose with the Global Youth Mural they created as part of the School and Classroom Program in 2011. Source: PTPI Blog
A project suitable for older students is the "Community Service Project" organized by students which also benefits and serves their local community or that of their partner class. (For Examples include food or book drives, community clean up or beautification, and volunteering at hospitals, parks, schools, day-care centers and homeless or pet shelters.)
Here, partner classrooms can offer advice, updates and outcomes to one another. Furthermore, in this program a "School and Classroom Community Service Project Award" is presented to classes that have excelled in the organization and implementation of a community service project.
A project targeted at middle school students (but adjustable for other age groups) is the "Magazine Project: Celebrating Global Differences", in which partner classes collaborate to create a magazine, enabling students to write and illustrate stories about themselves and their partner class. While students prepare articles, they begin to understand and accept differences, and develop empathy and tolerance for others.
A third example for a project for older students is named "Science: Comparing Similar Environments in Different Countries". Here partner classes study or, if possible, even visit the same type of environment again in their hometown/ country, such as a zoo, wetland preserve, national park, or conservatory.
Students research and analyze data about the animals and plant life they learn about or see so that classrooms can exchange information and images, enabling themto compare and contrast the types of animals and plants in the same environment in each of their countries.