Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
October 29, 2015

Cultural Exchange Project: Sharing Learning Around the World

By Meghan Everette
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Learning about different cultures is key to understanding the world around us, but young students often have a hard time identifying the unique characteristics that make up their own culture. When good friend and educator Tamera Musiowsky moved from New York City to Singapore this year, we took the opportunity to help our students identify those elements that make us who we are while learning about other cultures throughout the world. We applied for a grant and began a Culture Box exchange that links our two classrooms from half a world away.

    Logistics

    Throughout the year, my third graders will send and receive emails, videos, and boxes from a grade Two class at the ISSa box from Singapore International School in Singapore. Because of the 13 hour time difference, our classes cannot connect live very easily, but we can send emails and record video to “talk” to students. Our boxes contain books, trinkets, candy, maps, photographs, and more to help explain an event or holiday celebrated in our respective countries.

    Ms. Musiowsky and I keep a Google Drive folder of images and videos to share with our classes. We also have a spreadsheet showing what months we will each send items and what the theme will be. Students help identify the items they feel will best represent their culture and help teach other students about their holidays.

    The grant helps cover the cost of items, but shipping is a huge expense. It can cost over two hundred dollars to ship a large box around the world. My students are forced to consider some of the practical limitations, such as food spoilage or heavy books, when deciding what to mail and share.

    Google Drive

    Student Learning

    It is our hope that we will address the needs of the whole child though this exchange. Ms. Musiowsky has students Singapore hangingfrom all over the world in her international class, while many of my students have never left our state. We want students to find pride in their own heritage and culture while gaining a greater understanding of the world around them.

    Our First Box

    Our first box arrived last week and students were thrilled to open it themselves. We received maps, money samples, chocolates, postcards, gift envelopes, and many more small items. Some of the favorites were a T-shirt and pen for each student, and a decorative scroll. Informational texts and historic fiction books were also a hit with my students; I’ve never seen them clamor to share and read books like this! Our box also came with a video from the students introducing themselves and my students were excited to share ways they thought we should make a return-video for their class. We composed an email thank you right away.

    One of the interesting things we received was a Merlion, a symbol of Singapore representing its past and present. I recorded my students opening that first box and when the Merlion showed its head, many commented on the “lion fish!” We, of course, shared that tape with our Singapore friends. When Ms. Musiowsky’s students saw the tape, they thought it was comical that we didn’t know about the Merlion! It was a good learning experience to find out not everyone knows what you imagine to be so obvious about your own country.

    Singapore money Singapore shirts

    Decisions

    My students have been working hard to identify items they feel will represent them in a return box. We want to share about America in general, but also have a special focus on Thanksgiving. Students have selected many nonfiction texts to send, along with a few favorite turkey stories. They are adamant about sending some of our math money manipulatives (after we decided real money isn’t practical), and they want to include books about American symbols such as our flag and the Statue of Liberty. The real debate is over which candy treat to send, since we all enjoyed sampling chocolate Merlions from Singapore.

    Merlion chocolate

    Students will share boxes six times during this school year in addition to email and video. We are able to send Tweets and updates to Singapore as often as we like. Just last week we visited a historic colonial village and sent Tweets and links from our day. In the same manner we’ve been learning that air quality keeps our new friends out of school some days, and we’ve learned many new things in geography.

    Try It

    Watching video from Singapore

    Many grants are available to help fund exchange projects like ours. You don’t have to spend a lot of money though. Technology makes it easy to send photos, video, and emails quickly and easily to nearly anywhere. Even books and articles can be shared electronically. An English-speaking international school was a logical choice for our class because we can communicate easily.

    Culture can be difficult to identify and explain. However, this exchange of ideas and information between these two real classrooms from two different cultures turns the concept into something personal and tangible.

     

    Tamera Musiowsky (@ISSG21) is a grade 2 teacher at ISS International School in Singapore. Her personal blog is Jibber Jabber and Happenstance. Our grant was made possible by the ASCD Emerging Leader Innovation Grant program.

    Books from Singapore Singapore map

    Learning about different cultures is key to understanding the world around us, but young students often have a hard time identifying the unique characteristics that make up their own culture. When good friend and educator Tamera Musiowsky moved from New York City to Singapore this year, we took the opportunity to help our students identify those elements that make us who we are while learning about other cultures throughout the world. We applied for a grant and began a Culture Box exchange that links our two classrooms from half a world away.

    Logistics

    Throughout the year, my third graders will send and receive emails, videos, and boxes from a grade Two class at the ISSa box from Singapore International School in Singapore. Because of the 13 hour time difference, our classes cannot connect live very easily, but we can send emails and record video to “talk” to students. Our boxes contain books, trinkets, candy, maps, photographs, and more to help explain an event or holiday celebrated in our respective countries.

    Ms. Musiowsky and I keep a Google Drive folder of images and videos to share with our classes. We also have a spreadsheet showing what months we will each send items and what the theme will be. Students help identify the items they feel will best represent their culture and help teach other students about their holidays.

    The grant helps cover the cost of items, but shipping is a huge expense. It can cost over two hundred dollars to ship a large box around the world. My students are forced to consider some of the practical limitations, such as food spoilage or heavy books, when deciding what to mail and share.

    Google Drive

    Student Learning

    It is our hope that we will address the needs of the whole child though this exchange. Ms. Musiowsky has students Singapore hangingfrom all over the world in her international class, while many of my students have never left our state. We want students to find pride in their own heritage and culture while gaining a greater understanding of the world around them.

    Our First Box

    Our first box arrived last week and students were thrilled to open it themselves. We received maps, money samples, chocolates, postcards, gift envelopes, and many more small items. Some of the favorites were a T-shirt and pen for each student, and a decorative scroll. Informational texts and historic fiction books were also a hit with my students; I’ve never seen them clamor to share and read books like this! Our box also came with a video from the students introducing themselves and my students were excited to share ways they thought we should make a return-video for their class. We composed an email thank you right away.

    One of the interesting things we received was a Merlion, a symbol of Singapore representing its past and present. I recorded my students opening that first box and when the Merlion showed its head, many commented on the “lion fish!” We, of course, shared that tape with our Singapore friends. When Ms. Musiowsky’s students saw the tape, they thought it was comical that we didn’t know about the Merlion! It was a good learning experience to find out not everyone knows what you imagine to be so obvious about your own country.

    Singapore money Singapore shirts

    Decisions

    My students have been working hard to identify items they feel will represent them in a return box. We want to share about America in general, but also have a special focus on Thanksgiving. Students have selected many nonfiction texts to send, along with a few favorite turkey stories. They are adamant about sending some of our math money manipulatives (after we decided real money isn’t practical), and they want to include books about American symbols such as our flag and the Statue of Liberty. The real debate is over which candy treat to send, since we all enjoyed sampling chocolate Merlions from Singapore.

    Merlion chocolate

    Students will share boxes six times during this school year in addition to email and video. We are able to send Tweets and updates to Singapore as often as we like. Just last week we visited a historic colonial village and sent Tweets and links from our day. In the same manner we’ve been learning that air quality keeps our new friends out of school some days, and we’ve learned many new things in geography.

    Try It

    Watching video from Singapore

    Many grants are available to help fund exchange projects like ours. You don’t have to spend a lot of money though. Technology makes it easy to send photos, video, and emails quickly and easily to nearly anywhere. Even books and articles can be shared electronically. An English-speaking international school was a logical choice for our class because we can communicate easily.

    Culture can be difficult to identify and explain. However, this exchange of ideas and information between these two real classrooms from two different cultures turns the concept into something personal and tangible.

     

    Tamera Musiowsky (@ISSG21) is a grade 2 teacher at ISS International School in Singapore. Her personal blog is Jibber Jabber and Happenstance. Our grant was made possible by the ASCD Emerging Leader Innovation Grant program.

    Books from Singapore Singapore map

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Meghan's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
One-Stop January Shop: Every Resource You Need

Get great ideas, lessons, resources, interactives, and more for January. Celebrate the new year and Chinese New Year, and embrace the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with tips, books, and a host of other materials!

By Meghan Everette
January 2, 2017
Blog Post
13 Big Ideas for Big Nate and Other Graphic Novels

Read on for 13 ideas for teaching with Big Nate's box set and every graphic novel. Capitalize on student interest and hit reading skills hard with the visually-rich format.

By Meghan Everette
December 6, 2016
Blog Post
December Resources for Winter Holidays

Get links to winter projects and ideas for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and more. Find books, articles, blogs, crafts, and Printables for celebrating diversity and heritage all year long.

By Meghan Everette
November 21, 2016
Blog Post
November: Free Resources From the Election to Thanksgiving

Grab more than 100 November resources for Veterans Day, Aviation History Month, the 2016 Election, and Thanksgiving. Get links to interactives, lesson plans, articles, blog posts, and printable resources to plan easily with Scholastic all November long.

By Meghan Everette
October 24, 2016
Blog Post
Free Common Core Math Games for Every Math Monster

Print free, differentiated math games with a monster theme for math night or a monstrous math class. Get kindergarten through fifth grade Common Core aligned math activities.

By Meghan Everette
October 17, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us