Sister Cities, Twin Towns--An ePals Project

The purpose of this project is to unite two classrooms from two schools in two Sister Cities, or Twin Towns, to promote mutual respect, cultural understanding and cooperative learning. Students will make present-day connections and learn the importance of global citizenship while practicing writing, speaking and collaboration skills. This project has three parts: students exchange emails, students exchange sister city/twin town boxes and students create sister city/twin town logos.


Subjects: Language-learning, Math, Social Studies, Culture



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Result

 

The purpose of this project is to unite two classrooms from two schools in two Sister Cities, or Twin Towns, to promote mutual respect, cultural understanding and cooperative learning. Students will make present-day connections and learn the importance of global citizenship while practicing writing, speaking and collaboration skills. This project has three parts: students exchange emails, students exchange sister city/twin town boxes and students create sister city/twin town logos.

Objectives:
1. Students will gain an increased understanding of their sister city/twin town while also gaining a more in-depth understanding of their own locality.
2. Students will be able to recognize the inter-connectedness of the world and identify similarities and differences between the two cities and schools.
3. Students will be able to begin to define the term “global citizen”.
4. Students will be able to compose well-written emails to their ePals.
5. Students will create sister city/twin town boxes with items representing their culture, their city, and their school.
6. Students will create a logo that represents the collaboration between the two sister cities/twin towns and schools.


Essential Questions:
1. What are sister cities/twin towns?
2. In what ways is my city connected to its sister city/twin town?
3. How is life in my city the same or different from life in my sister city/twin town?
4. What does it mean to be a global citizen?


Standards:


National Education Technology Standards (NETS)


National Geography Standards
Standard 4: The Physical and Human Characteristics of Places
Standard 6: How Culture and Experience Influence People's Perceptions of Places and Regions
Standard 9: The Characteristics, Distribution, Migration of Human Population on Earth’s Surface
Standard 10: The Characteristics, Distribution, and Complexity of Earth's Cultural Mosaics
Standard 11: The Patterns and Networks of Economic Interdependence on Earth’s Surface
Standard 12: The Processes, Patterns, and Functions of Human Settlement


Common Core Anchor Standards
Reading 1, 2, 3, 7, 10
Writing 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
Speaking and Listening 3, 5

Step 4 Culminating Activity: Sister City/Twin Towns Logo Creation


As a final project students will take all that they have learned about one another’s communities through the email exchanges and box exchange and will work together to create a Sister Cities/Twin Towns logo.


• Each class should have a brainstorming session to answer the following questions: What colors do you think would be good to use in the logo? What symbols represent our school? What symbols represent our community? What symbols could represent this collaboration between the two cities? Make a list of powerful words that you would like to see in the logo.
• Teachers should share the results of their class brainstorming session with the other class so that each group can see what the other group came up with. The brainstorming can even be done via Skype if your time zones and class times allow for it.
• Once both groups have seen everyone’s ideas on color, symbols and words, ask small groups of students to work together to design a logo.
• Accept all student entries and then have students vote on the logo that they think best represents the collaboration between the two schools and cities. Your ePals workspace media gallery or wiki would be a good tool to use here so that all participating students can see the logos they will be voting on.
• Submit the winning logo to your local officials for use on their website, if appropriate.



Assessment and Reflection:

Formative Assessment (during the email exchange) – Teachers can review incoming and outgoing student emails and conference individually with students on areas of needed improvement.
Summative Assessment (at the end of the project) – Teachers can evaluate the products going into the boxes using a rubric and can review the students reflections for gained insight and growth.
Reflection – Reflection on the project can be done in a number of ways:  As a student journal or Learning Log entry, as an essay, or even as a final reflective email to students’ ePal following the box exchange.  Below are some questions that you may want students to consider when doing the final reflection on the project:


1. Why do you think it is important for cities and towns to have Sister City and Twin Town programs? Who benefits? In what ways?
2. If you were asked by the city to expand the program, what is one thing that you would do? Why?
3. How did the logo that you created for this project represent the two schools or the two cities?
4. What was the most important thing you learned in this project/email exchange?



 

Key Project Elements: This project consists of four basic steps: background and preparation, the email exchange, clubs and the sister city box exchange, and the logo design and creation as a culminating activity.

 

Step 1 Background/Preparation

What are “Sister Cities” or “Twin Towns”? A sister city program is a group of individuals in a town or city that, with the support of local city officials, form a long-term relationship with people and groups in a city in another country (Sister Cities International). Sometimes these associations are called twin towns or partner cities. The towns or cities usually have a cooperative agreement that promotes commercial or cultural ties. The practice can be traced back to the early 1900s and it was continued after WWII as a way to encourage cross-cultural understanding among people and promote mutually beneficial projects. The first sister city relationship in the United States was between Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain in 1931.

 

You can check the registry at Sister Cities International, the list of Twin Towns and Sister Cities, the UK Town Twinning Portal or use your internet search engine to see if your city has a sister city. Once you have determined that your city has a sister city, you may want to contact your local officials to see if they can provide you with any information about the sister city program that you can share with your class or if they have an established relationship with schools in that sister city already. You can use your internet search engine to find your local official’s information (for example if you type in “Chicago”, “Sister City”, you will get http://www.chicagosistercities.com/  and if you type in “San Diego”, “Sister City”, you will get http://www.sandiego.gov/commlegissvcs/protocol/sistercities/.)

 

If your city has not already established a relationship with schools in your sister city, or if that match doesn’t meet your needs because of age or other criteria, you can search for schools yourself right here on ePals. You can search the ePals Classroom Profiles for a match in your sister city. Use the Advanced Search option and choose the country and city that you are looking for. Contact teachers that look like a good match for your group and invite them to join you in the project. Once you have established a collaborative partnership with a teacher in your sister city, work with that teacher to determine a calendar for the email exchange, box exchange, and logo design and creation that fits into both of your classroom schedules.

 

Share the information you have gathered on sister cities/twin towns in general and your sister city specifically with your students. Create a resource center of information about their ePals’ locations, either digitally or in your classroom. Include informational texts, fiction stories relating to the country, photos depicting the region/country and lists of websites that will help your students learn more about their ePals’ region/country and their day-to-day lives.

 

 

Step 2 Email Exchange – During this part of the project students will exchange email messages about themselves, their school and their town. Each email will include a poll question for the ePal to answer and a student-created project that is sent as an attachment to the email.

Create your student email accounts if you don’t already have them.  For more information on how to do that, see the tutorial in the help area on ePals. Exchange student email addresses with your collaborating teacher partner using your teacher ePals email account.  Creating and exchanging excel files with student names, email addresses and a few other bits of information about each student like gender, general interests, etc., can help your collaborating teacher make suitable student ePals matches. Establish a time frame for how often the emails will be exchanged.  (Ex. The students will exchange emails once a week.)

 

  • Email #1 My Town

Email text ideas: Students will share information about their city or town. They can include information about location, geography, population, landmarks, important facts, jobs, recreation, etc. Students might also want to include a sentence or two about what they like most about their town. They can ask and answer questions about the sister city.

 

Poll question: In each email students will ask a poll question. Data from each class can be gathered and graphed (circle graphs/pie charts work well) to compare the two groups day-to-day experiences.

o    How do you spend most of your free time? A. Playing sports B. Watching TV C. On the computer D. Reading E. With friends F. With family G. Other

              

Project Ideas: Choose one of the short projects listed below or use your own idea. Have students share the project by sending it as an attachment. The work can also be shared with the larger ePals Global Community by uploading it to the Student Media Gallery.

o    Create a Top Ten List of why people should visit your town.

o    Make a collage that represents your city, state or country.

o    Draw a picture of the view outside your window.

o    Take a photo of a landmark in your town.


  • Email #2 My School

Email text ideas: Students will share information about their school and campus. They can include information about the school size, how they get to school, what type of clothing they wear, and what classes they take. Students might also want to include a sentence or two about what their favorite subject to study is or what has been their most interesting experiment or project they have done this year.

 

Poll question: In each email students will ask a poll question. Data from each class can be gathered and graphed (circle graphs/pie charts work well) to compare the two groups day-to-day experiences.

o    What school subject is your favorite? A. Math B. Foreign Language C. Science D. Physical Education E. Writing/Language Arts F. Other  OR

o    What do you find most stressful at school? A. Speaking a foreign language B. Speaking in front of the class C. Taking a test D. Doing homework E. Writing a paper F. Doing math

 

Project Ideas: Choose one of the short projects listed below or use your own idea. Have students share the project by sending it as an attachment. The work can also be shared with the larger ePals Global Community by uploading it to the Student Media Gallery.

o    What’s in Your Lunchbox? In words and/or pictures share what you are eating for lunch at school today.

o    Working with a small group, create a Day in My School Life video or PowerPoint.

o    Working in a small group, create a The Way We Play video that shows playground games at your school.

o    Interview your teacher or principal.

o    Take digital photos of the different areas in your school and create a My School slideshow using PowerPoint.

 

  • Email #3 You and Your Family

Email text ideas: Students will share information about their home life and family. They can include information about who lives with them, family history and heritage, important family holidays, and traditional foods that family members prepare. Students might want to include a sentence or two about a favorite family vacation, favorite family fun activity or a favorite holiday family tradition.

 

Poll question: In each email students will ask a poll question. Data from each class can be gathered and graphed (circle graphs/pie charts work well) to compare the two groups day-to-day experiences.

o    What sports do you play? (Choose all that apply) A. Baseball B. Tennis C. Soccer/Futbol D. Football E. Volleyball F. Track and Field G. Softball H. Basketball I. Other

 

Project Ideas: Choose one of the short projects listed below or use your own idea. Have students share the project by sending it as an attachment. The work can also be shared with the larger ePals Global Community by uploading it to the Student Media Gallery.

o    Create a Cultural Self-portrait.

o    Share a family recipe for a traditional food.

o    Make a family crest and write a short paragraph describing all of the elements of the crest and why you have chosen to include them.

o    Take a photo of an important family artifact and share the story behind it – interview a family member if you can for more information about the role the item has played in your family’s history.

 

Step 3 Clubs and Sister City Box Exchange -- During this part of the project, each class will be filling a box to send to the other group. The box’s contents will help each group to better understand the sister city, sister school, their students and their culture. With that in mind, students will be divided up into “clubs”, or small groups, to work on items that will be included in the Sister City Box Exchange. You and your collaborating teacher can decide which small groups, and what box contents, will best meet your classroom and project needs.  The “clubs” listed below are only suggestions and the box contents are only ideas. Encourage students to be creative!

 

Reporters Club—this group interviews students, teachers, school administrators, local officials and celebrities. Interviews can be videos or written and are included in the box. They also choose one form of local media to include in the box.

 

Economics Club—this group researches local industry and resources and creates an economics project to include in the box. They should choose one locally manufactured item to be included in the box.

 

Cooking Club—this group gathers recipes or creates a small cookbook to be included in the box. They also choose a non-perishable food item that represents the school, community or country to include in the box.

 

Designers Club—this group researches and prepares a presentation on traditional and/or everyday clothing that will be included in the box. They should include a small item with the school logo on it in the box, if one is available.

 

History Club—this group researches and writes a history of the school and/or city to be included in the box.

 

Music Club—this group prepares a music presentation to be included in the box. This might be an original song written by the group, a recording of the whole group singing a song that the Music Club has chosen, or a musical compilation of traditional or currently popular music. This group could be mentored by the school’s music teacher.

 

Language Club—this group will prepare a book of key phrases in their language or create some short language lessons with language flash cards. They should choose a current age-appropriate book (paperback/best-seller) in their language to include in the box.

 

Wildlife Club—this group will research native wildlife in your area and interview local organizations and experts. They will gather photos of local plants and animals or create a “Walk in our Backyard” video to be included in the box.

 

Tourist Club—this group will research the best things to see and do in your town and put together a folder of brochures, postcards, pictures, maps and other information that a tourist might find helpful when visiting. They will write a welcome letter to be included with the materials.

 

 

Step 4 Culminating Activity: Sister City/Twin Towns Logo Creation

As a final project students will take all that they have learned about one another’s communities through the email exchanges and box exchange and will work together to create a Sister Cities/Twin Towns logo.

  • Each class should have a brainstorming session to answer the following questions: What colors do you think would be good to use in the logo? What symbols represent our school? What symbols represent our community? What symbols could represent this collaboration between the two cities? Make a list of powerful words that you would like to see in the logo.
  • Teachers should share the results of their class brainstorming session with the other class so that each group can see what the other group came up with. The brainstorming can even be done via Skype if your time zones and class times allow for it.
  • Once both groups have seen everyone’s ideas on color, symbols and words, ask small groups of students to work together to design a logo.
  • Accept all student entries and then have students vote on the logo that they think best represents the collaboration between the two schools and cities. Your ePals workspace media gallery or wiki would be a good tool to use here so that all participating students can see the logos they will be voting on.
  • Submit the winning logo to your local officials for use on their website, if appropriate.

 

 

Assessment and Reflection:

 

  • Formative Assessment (during the email exchange) – Teachers can review incoming and outgoing student emails and conference individually with students on areas of needed improvement.
  • Summative Assessment (at the end of the project) – Teachers can evaluate the products going into the boxes using a rubric and can review the students reflections for gained insight and growth.
  • Reflection – Reflection on the project can be done in a number of ways:  As a student journal or Learning Log entry, as an essay, or even as a final reflective email to students’ ePal following the box exchange.  Below are some questions that you may want students to consider when doing the final reflection on the project:
    1. Why do you think it is important for cities and towns to have Sister City and Twin Town programs? Who benefits? In what ways?
    2. If you were asked by the city to expand the program, what is one thing that you would do? Why?
    3. How did the logo that you created for this project represent the two schools or the two cities?
    4. What was the most important thing you learned in this project/email exchange?

 

 

The timeline for this project is flexible and will be negotiated by the participating schools. Ideally this would become an ongoing collaboration.

Project Leader:

Country:
Subjects: Language-learning, Math, Social Studies, Culture

# of Students: 21-30
Age Range: 8-10
Collaboration: Email Exchange, Skype / Video Chat
Languages: English

About my classroom: BF Yancey is a small, rural elementary school of approximately 150 students in grades pre-Kindergarten through Fifth, located in central Virginia, USA. We are interested in communicating with other students from as many countries as possible regarding your school lunch experience. Do students eat in a cafeteria or common space? What foods are eaten for lunch at school where you live? Is the lunchtime meal prepared by the school or do students bring their own food from home? Are the meals sourced from local farmers and providers? What are the components of your favorite school lunch? We are especially interested in collecting photos of school lunches from around the world! Currently, we prefer to correspond by email and Skype, and to write at least 2x per month. We look forward to meeting you and learning about the food culture of your area.