Teacher Exchange and Student Collaborative Projects
Global collaborative projects between Wilderness School and Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Boston Massachusetts evolved from the National Coalition of Girls Schools in New York in 2016. Initially, this collaboration started as a teacher exchange program and has now grown into several student global projects across our Junior, Middle and Senior schools.
The teacher exchange programme involves teachers from both schools travelling to Australia and America to develop collaborative learning experiences for our students. Visiting teachers are involved in classroom observations and teacher meetings in addition to appreciating and connecting with the different school environments. This rewarding teacher exchange has benefited our students by establishing innovative practices using online platforms and introducing new learning resources and learning opportunities.
In 2017, the first two Dana Hall teachers, Fred Lindstrom and Alden Derr, visited Wilderness School to work with Ann Rooney and Helen Douvartzidis respectively to create projects that united their classes in English and Mathematics.
Over 2018 and 2019, Ms Rooney and Mr Lindstrom have built an English as an Additional Language, Year 11 online learning platform to host student conversations on shared texts, about their culture and topics of social interest guided by their teachers. Students send videos, audio and written reflections and meet each virtually other using Skype. Collectively this class has students from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico and Germany.
The Year 8, Shared Reading Program organised by Assunta Fusco and Amelia Herring has run for the past two years and in 2018 it has expanded to include more students. The aim of the program is to encourage the girls to share and widen their reading experiences. Through videos and written comments, students establish dialogues with each other in which they discuss the issues presented in their independent reading and become aware of other reading choices. Simultaneously, students exchange ideas about popular culture, school culture, politics and contemporary social issues and, thereby, acknowledge commonalities, recognise differences and explore the world beyond their own experiences.
In the Middle School, the Dana Hall and Wilderness English departments are actively developing global projects for the girls. These include an exciting new visual storytelling project based on ‘The Moth’ audio stories for our Year 8 and Year 10 classes. This year at Dana Hall, Ann Rooney and Assunta Fusco discussed creating shared resources and organising community ‘Moth’ storytelling events.
This global connection between Wilderness and Dana Hall Schools is very special because it distinguishes our Schools and our work in developing empathy and understanding about the world and brings in different world perspectives.
Our work with Dana Hall has also flowed through to the Wilderness teachers who attended this year’s Project Zero Classroom at Harvard University. These teachers visited Dana Hall and are now collaborating on a Year 5 project and students have already posted letters to each other.
Projects under consideration for 2019 include the Research Project, Junior School STEM clubs and building connections with the Year 6 class between Project Zero Classroom teachers.
This fruitful connection with Dana Hall cultivates a global consciousness that presents students with opportunities to engage in real-world experiences. It fosters an appreciation of different perspectives and an enduring understanding of diverse cultures through authentic experiences with students in other parts of the world.
The projects between Wilderness School and Dana Hall provide an environment for genuine collaborations between students across a number of year levels. Additionally, the use of a range of media platforms provides important learning opportunities for students to become responsible and effective global digital communicators.
This post was written with Assunta Fusco for the School Magazine, Wilderness Times, edition 82, while at Dana Hall in October 2018