It was a successful first week in Recife and the agenda took new directions each day. As so much time was dedicated to observation and knowledge exchange, our time was flexible. Because of this we were able to follow the lead of our local partners which maximised the opportunities for this scoping visit.
Over the first week we met with teachers, researchers and professionals from various organisations and schools. Marie from CESAR was instrumental in initiating these relationships, arranging meetings with ABA Global School, DAMAS School and The British Consulate. In all 3 meetings we spent time learning about their positions in this region. Extending our agenda and outreach, we also agreed a visit to a rural school based outside of the town of Escada. This school is situated in a village and local people farm at a sugar cane plantation.
With each partner we shared 3 the projects that we are bringing to Brazil:
- Closing the Gap in Maths – how can mobile technology and the onebillion software support marginalised learners?
- Stories of a Lifetime – How might we keep local legends, myths and fables alive whilst also sharing our place in the world?
- Connecting Classes Across Continents – “How might we develop deeper understanding through the use of global connections to broaden learners’ perspectives?”
DAMAS school have picked up two of the three projects we presented. They are particularly interested in joining the global research project in Closing the Gap in Maths as well as Stories of a Lifetime. ABA Global School will be joining us on all 3 projects. At The British Consulate, we gained expert advice on how best to scale up these projects in Brazil and who to approach for support in further developing our outreach here in Recife.
One school visit we made on Friday was extraordinary. Driving inland, we saw life in rural Recife and found our way to the town of Escada. Just beyond the town we stopped at a village built by a sugar cane factory. Here the villagers work on the planation and the State of Recife provide schooling for the children. Local people helped us find their school and introduced us to Regina, coordinator of a municipal school in Massaussu village named after Dr Jose Henrique. She was very welcoming and showed us around. We met other staff and children at the school. It was a good opportunity to make the comparison between city and rural life in Recife. We also had a chance to share the onebillion maths project with the head teacher, who had never used tablet technology before. Amazed by what she saw in the Portuguese version of the app, she agreed that this would transform maths learning in her school. This visit was a really good opportunity to make use of the Book Creator text that the Burton Joyce children authored for ABA. The staff and children at Dr Jose Henrique municipal school were able to step inside Burton Joyce through the use of technology and see what life was like elsewhere in the world. Our green fields and open spaces was a real contrast for them but similarities were drawn from soccer and music. After an hour at the school, we exchanged contacts and we look forward to working together on a project in the future.
Meeting Roberta Ferraz at ABA Global School has been a highlight of my trip. Roberta is the Educational Technology Coordinator at this primary school and is a passionate educator who brings new ideas to the school curriculum. Working on many initiatives herself, including podcasting programs and student cinema projects, she was very inspired by Stories of a Lifetime and Connecting Classes Across Continents. Roberta will also coordinate the pilot study of the cross-cultural maths evaluation of the onebillion software.
Leading up to my visit, children at my school authored a Book Creator text about Burton Joyce Primary School and life in their village. Roberta has invited me to co-teach with her next week and share this book with students at ABA. We have been able to organise a FaceTime call between our classes at Burton Joyce and ABA so that children can connect over this personal text. Following this lesson, students will begin working on their own book about ABA school and Recife which will be sent to us at Burton Joyce. This exciting project builds on the work I have achieved with St. Francis Xavier school, Goa, back in 2015. I look forward to publishing a second global book in this series at the end of this collaboration and extending the reach of the Connecting Classes Across Continents program.
Daniella, a coordinator at DAMAS school, is going to bring Stories of a Lifetime to her school alongside Roberta at ABA. Stories of a Lifetime celebrates local legends, myths and folklore in localities. Children who work on this project will research, script and illustrate their retelling of this local story. This can be in their first language with English subtitles or in told in English. Once their story project is complete, teachers upload this 3 minute video story to Vimeo and share the link with myself and ADE Jason Milner. We embed their video story in their country portfolio on the Stories of a Lifetime website for other schools to use as a learning resource. Those schools who access these stories are encouraged to respond in their own way via their school blogs and share this work as comments on the school’s Vimeo profile. You can find out more about this project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ELx2Xf0Csc
Daniella (DAMAS Coordinator) and Roberta (ABA Coordinator) have invited me to visit their schools next week to provide bespoke training to their staff. I will help their teachers learn how to best utilise their tablets so they can work with Stories of a Lifetime. We will also train staff to use the onebillion software and how to implement this teacher-led intervention in their part of this cross-cultural study. Roberta is also very keen to develop the use of technology in early years at ABA and I will be showcasing my class’s work with iPad to the ABA teaching staff.
My own professional learning has gained from working internationally. There have been many opportunities to reflect on my own practise and learn how best to collaborate with teachers abroad. As an Apple Distinguished Educator, I am experienced in collaborating with teachers inside of this network. To apply this skill internationally, as an educator visiting from abroad, has been very useful to me. With 4 days left on this trip, I look forward a week of professional development and project implementation with our new partners.