Sample Exchange Structure

Our Participants

In the beginning our exchange groups are between two classrooms, each with 1 teacher and approximately 20 students (ranging from ages 7-18 years old). Later we hope to expand to community groups, artists, writers, researchers, and anyone who wants to participate.

Means of Exchange

One of the first considerations for any exchange is the level and access to technology that the group has. This will determine the means and frequency of exchange.

Some possible mediums for the exchanges are:

  • Web cam (Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout, FaceTime)
  • Instant messaging chats (Facebook messenger, Google Chat, iMessage)
  • Online forum (website, Facebook group, Google group)
  • Email
  • Phone calls/texts
  • Other (to be determined by teachers)

Scheduling Exchanges

Exchanges will be both asynchronous and synchronous. Initially, classrooms will create work separately, on their own time. They will then come together to share, which can be both asynchronous (students exchanging via email, posting on an online forum, etc.), and synchronous (teachers and students from both exchange groups come together for a simultaneous web cam conversation).  At least once per semester (time change permitting) we hope that the two classrooms can meet for a synchronous web cam discussion. This event can be either student-student or classroom-classroom, depending on the groups. We suggest that for synchronous classroom exchanges with significant time zone changes, one of the classrooms can host a “party” outside of class time (i.e. a late night pizza party, early morning breakfast, etc.).

Timeline of Exchanges

Pre-Exchange: Teacher Preparation

Prior to the first exchange, Paintbrush Diplomacy will initiate contact and introduce the two teachers to each other. Together, we will decide on the best format for exchanges, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each classroom. Collectively, teachers can either decide to follow the exchange suggestions below or to modify them appropriately.

The teachers can also exchange “Cultural Clues” compiled by students. These might be digital folders containing “artifacts” (photos, videos, student art, music, school song, etc.) related to the students’ lives and classroom, which will later be presented to their partner students. This preparation process will allow the students to be involved from the very beginning of the exchange.

In the classroom, teachers will have a conversation with their students about their partner classroom. To start, teachers will present the “Cultural Clues.” Based on the contents, students can analyze the contents, make observations about their partner group, and talk about its location in the world. Then, the teacher can talk through any questions about the partner classroom and its cultural history.

Before each exchange, teachers will guide students in creating artwork on the theme, to be presented during the exchanges. As mentioned previously, these exchanges can be either one-on-one (similar to art “pen pals”) or as a group. Additionally, throughout the exchanges, teachers will stay in contact with each other and do a check-in at least once before each exchange.

Exchange 1: Who We Are – Introductions

Classrooms and students meet each other and introduce themselves.

Possible exchange prompts (these should be accessible and easy to answer):

  • What are your hobbies/what do you like to do?
  • Draw your family.
  • Create a self-portrait.

Exchange 2: Community and Culture

Students talk about their daily lives, neighborhoods, cultures.

Possible exchange prompts:

  • What does your neighborhood look like? / Create a map of your neighborhood.
  • Draw your favorite place to go in your community.
  • Photograph and locate the public artworks and monuments in your neighborhood.
  • What are some of your favorite foods?

Exchange 3: Collaboration

Students should create a collaborative work with students in their exchange classroom. This will facilitate greater cross-cultural dialogue and understanding.

Some ideas could be writing a joint poem, creating a virtual painting together, making a short animation, designing a game, etc. Students might also work in groups or as a class to create a type of “cultural quilt,” in which both classes collaborate to make a group work that depicts the collective culture that has arisen out of the two original classrooms. The format of this collaboration will depend greatly on the teachers, classrooms, and technology.

Exchange 4: Exhibition and Reflection

Each classroom puts on an exhibition showing both their own work and the work of their partner classroom. This can be as simple as an in-class walk-around where students “exhibit” their work on the desk and walk around to view all the pieces, or as involved as a curated and hung show at the school or other local community space. Paintbrush Diplomacy will work to support teachers in these exhibitions however we can. During the exhibitions, either written or orally, students will reflect on what they have learned about themselves/their own community and their partners/partner community.  This could take the format of a casual conversation, presentations to parents/exhibition visitors, creating a Venn diagram, etc.