This article was originally published in the summer 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Middle School Japanese Students Exchange Notes with Tamagawa Pen Pals
Kumi Matsui’s Japanese students spent part of this semester exchanging notes with their pen pals from Tamagawa Gakuen in Tokyo. The purpose of the activity was to help Matsui’s students strengthen their skill with the language and learn more about Japanese culture, as well as to further develop their relationships with their Tamagawa friends. Students were required to write to their pen pals in Japanese, and although the activity officially concluded in March, when Tamagawa’s school year ended, the students are free to continue writing to their overseas friends.
Upper School Global Journalism Project Continues
The Winged Post, the upper school student newspaper, continued its Global Journalism Project, an ongoing collaboration with international high school newspapers that began during the 2010-11 school year. Two recent editions of the paper, which hit stands in March and April, featured stories from students at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia and the Taipei American School in Taiwan. Topics discussed included the ways in which different countries approach teenage independence laws and recent efforts by schools to tackle environmental issues.
Middle School Math Teacher Visits China on Exchange Visit
In April, Vandana Kadam, middle school mathematics chair, went on an exchange trip to Shanghai to visit and instruct at the World Foreign Language Middle School.
Kadam both observed and taught, including four sections of grade 6 classes. She also taught to students in grades 7-10. “The students have been extremely receptive and that curiosity I see in them makes it fun for me to teach,” said Kadam in an email from China. Her classes included a mix of Chinese students fairly proficient in English and those newer to English. She also had a Chinese co-teacher to translate her lessons if needed.
The language barrier, however, was mostly a non-issue. “[The Chinese students] were comfortable interacting with me as I used some manipulatives and played games with them,” said Kadam.
Australian Exchange Teacher Visits Harker
For two weeks in April, Sam Cleary, a teacher at St. Stephen’s College in Australia, visited Harker to teach and observe classes as part of Harker’s eacher exchange with the school. Cleary observed classes in English, history and forensics, and taught a number of English and forensics classes himself.
Grade 4 Students Exchange Posters with Tamagawa Buddies
This semester, grade 4 English teacher Colin Goodwin’s students made posters to exchange with their buddies at Tamagawa Gakuen. Each student was asked to name his or her favorite season and a favorite seasonal tradition and make an artistic rendering of it. Seasonal traditions featured on the posters include Christmas, the Fourth of July and Halloween.
“I started the poster exchange about three years ago so that students at Harker and Tamagawa could learn about each other’s seasonal traditions,” Goodwin said. “It began as an exchange about spring traditions to tie into ‘The Secret Garden,’ a novel that has spring as one of the dominant themes.” In the last two years, the activity has expanded to include some of Harker’s other sister schools.