Virtual activities for school partnerships

Have you had to postpone your exchange visits due to the Covid-19 situation? Keep your partnership going with some virtual joint activities!

There are multiple ways to exchange with your partner school remotely, from sending emails and snail mail to using social media and video chats. Here are some tried and tested activities to get pupils engaging with one another, improving intercultural understanding and building friendships.

“We will continue to be in contact with our partner school and exchange emails, blogs and Skype – we fully intend to keep up our connection!”

– UK secondary teacher

  • Traditional exchange ideas

    Quiz each other

    Get your pupils to send questions to their partners about their culture, traditions and lifestyle. Your partner school pupils do the same. Pupils then share the answers and reflect on similarities, differences and what surprised them most.

    Letter or parcel exchange

    Get your pupils to send letters, photographs, traditional gifts, foods and things typical to your local area. It’s a great way for them to get to know each other and swap cultures – and there’s nothing quite like receiving a letter or parcel in the post!

    A recipe for a successful exchange

    Get pupils to put together a recipe for a successful exchange – what you will need to prepare beforehand (ingredients), what to do when you are there (method) and ways to enhance the experience or keep it going, both digitally and face-to-face (serving suggestions). Pupils could also think about pupils also think about what aspect of school life / society / curriculum areas could be included in a school partnership (toppings!). This is a great way to get pupils to think actively about how to prepare for and make the best of their time abroad, when it comes. This can also be done in the target language.

  • Music and audio

    Playlist swap

    What songs are your pupils listening to at the moment? Get them and their German partners to make a playlist together using a platform like Spotify, then encourage them to give their opinions and share what they liked about the others’ choices. You could even set a theme, for example ‘songs about friends’ or ‘songs about identity’ which can be a great spring-board for discussion and learning new vocabulary.

    Virtual music exchange

    As a class, pick a song and assign a line from the song to each pupil. Each pupil then has to film themselves singing, miming or representing their line of the song. Collate these to make a music video and share this with the other school. Your partner school could also create a video to the same song and pupils can compare the interpretations.

    Create a personal ‘podcast’

    Get your pupils to write a diary or article on the current topic they are studying  then record themselves reading their work. The recordings can be put together to send to your partners for a snapshot of your pupils’ lives. Your partners can do the same and, where curricular topics overlap, offer their own opinions. Musical students could even record a theme tune!

  • Reading and writing

    Write a story together

    Much like the game of ‘consequences’, your pupils write the beginning of a story and pass it on to their German partner school who continue the story and pass it back. Continue back and forth, adding characters and unexpected plot-twists and until the story comes to a conclusion. A great way to be creative together and exchange beyond personal information.

    Create a news report

    Are any of your pupils are budding journalists? They could create a news report or article with top tips for staying indoors, interview family members on their thoughts and research local initiatives to share with your partners. This can be presented as a video or an online document and you can give your partner the opportunity to ‘comment’ on your article. Older pupils could compare each country’s approach to the situation or add a more political aspect. This activity can, of course, be adapted to any topic area.

    Start a virtual book or film club

    Each week a different pupil can suggest a book or film to watch during the week. Each pupil can then post their thoughts on this in a virtual blog, in their own or in the target language.

    Collaborative research project

    Assign each pupil an area to look into in the two countries, for example, food, sport or the environment. Each pupil can create one or two pages of information on this and then collate all of these into a virtual document for the whole group to look at. This could also include terms and phrases in the other language if your pupils are learning German. Ask each pupil to pick out something that they did not know before or have learnt from taking part in the project.

  • Video and photos

    Thematic photo challenge

    Choose a topic, for example sustainability, digital communication or architecture and get pupils to share pictures on the topic to represent the theme in the context of their home country. Pupils could then put together a collage or mind-map using the photos to act as a revision tool or starting-point for a bigger project. Pupils can then get together online to share the outcomes of their work and discuss the topic more widely.

    Exercise exchange

    Get your pupils to come up with a new exercise or dance routine and film themselves teaching this as if they were instructors. Send this to their partners and ask them to video themselves learning the new skill. Set these to music to create a music video.

    Create a play or animation

    For any pupils who are budding actors, you could assign a scene from a play to each pupil and ask them to recreate this. They could act or even use animation.

  • Games and challenges

    Challenge each other

    Get your pupils to set challenges for their exchange partners, for example, ask them to find products in their house that come from the other country or see who can learn the most words from the other language in one day. You could also set a thematic challenge and ask each pupil to ‘upcycle’ an everyday object, such as a milk carton, and share the different ideas they come up with.

    Hold a bear picnic

    Unfortunately Alex and Ben, our UK German Connection bears, are no longer able to travel to Germany and England but there’s no reason why their friends from each school can’t virtually connect. You could even hold a virtual teddy bears picnic!

    Regional cooking challenge

    Set your pupils a challenge to bake and decorate a cake to represent their partner country. You could even set up an online voting poll and allow the pupils to choose their favourite entry. Alternatively, pupils can write recipes for regional delicacies for their partners to try cooking (using simple ingredients of course!) or have a go at cooking food from the other country.

    Vocabulary bank

    Pupils come up with their favourite words from their native language to share with each other and request words they would like to learn in the other language. These could be the strangest idioms, the hardest to pronounce words or the latest colloquialisms. Collate these to create a virtual collaborative vocabulary bank – it can be used later when pupils go abroad or you could even set them a challenge to use as many of them as possible in a letter to their partners!

    Design task

    Are any of your pupils budding entrepreneurs? Set a challenge for your pupils to come up with a new invention or idea: this can be done in teams with pupils from both countries. Each group has the challenge of communicating virtually to come up with a team idea and presentation, which they then pitch to the teachers or the rest of the class, who judge which team they would like to invest in or whose product they would create.

    Nature/food bingo

    Create a bingo grid of items for each pupil to spot at the shops or in their gardens. Do you commonly find ‘Spargel’ and ‘Kohlrabi’ in the UK? Are parsnips easy to buy in Germany? Which animals and plants can be spotted in pupils’ gardens? A fun game that can lead to some interesting conversations about differences and similarities between the countries.