From little blog seeds, do mighty exchanges grow!

| November 17, 2010

BY ELIZABETH LOUW

At Cornwall Hill College (CHC), we have an ongoing exchange programme with a small school in Sweden called Vibyskolan.

Over the years, Vibyskolan has sent teachers and learners to South Africa and we have visited them. On their most recent visit to South Africa in October 2009, I had the pleasure of interacting with their Social Science teachers. We spent time discussing our shared interests and globally relevant topics in our learning area, and decided we needed a forum to enable us to share ideas at educator and learner level.

My Swedish colleagues said a blog would be the perfect tool to use. I had never used a blog before but, as I am always open to learning new skills, I jumped right in.

Pupils drive projects

As Vibyskolan is very small, it is easy for them to run projects with an entire grade; however, our learner numbers make this difficult. As a compromise I decided to involve the members of our Eco-club, which I run as a co-curricular activity, and which includes Grades 4 to 6 students. Our aim has been to come up with projects that the learners can execute themselves. The topics should promote eco-awareness, and the end results should afford the learners the opportunity to see how different issues affect our two countries. At the same time, we are seeing how world events have an effect on everyone, no matter where you live.

Energy and water conservation issues all over the world

Our first project involved Vibyskolan finding ways for learners to conserve energy in their day-to-day lives. At CHC we studied water conservation and concluded the project with home-based water audits so that learners could suggest ways in which to conserve water at home. Both schools posted their findings on the blog and we spent time discussing contributions.

The Swedish children found it interesting that water would be such an issue for South Africans. Looking at the number of lakes and rivers in Sweden, one can understand why. The South African children found it interesting that it was always raining or looked wet in the photos of Sweden. Every photo was examined closely; differences and similarities were carefully noted.

Hail for 20 minutes during volcanic eruption

During the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, we shared that the event was newsworthy even though we live so far away (some people’s families were affected
by grounded or delayed aeroplane flights.) Our friends in Sweden replied with a photo taken in a local garden of the ash cloud and a description of black hail falling for 20 minutes.

Our enthusiasm for this exchange is steadily growing and we are currently working on our next project, involving some lesser-known South African animals. Not only will this research be seen on the blog, but I had the pleasure of taking it over to Sweden in August, where it was received with great interest. The use of social media and the
Internet have brought together two groups of children at opposite ends of the world, enabling them to share their experiences in a meaningful way.

If you are interested in visiting our blog, you can find us at www.swedecorneco.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Louw is Learning Area Head of Social Sciences at Cornwall Hill Preparatory School.

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Category: e-Education, Summer 2010

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