Mission Heights Primary School's community problem solving team 'Team TEACH' has returned after representing their school and New Zealand at the recent International Future Problem Solving Competition held over the weekend (June 6-10) at Indiana University (IU), Bloomington, USA.
There were around 2500+ competitors from over 40 American States, and countries including Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Great Britain, Turkey, Malaysia and New Zealand. At the International Future Problem Solving Program Competition you are considered to have done outstandingly well if your country gets one first placing. Future Problem Solving which includes Community Problem Solving is a programme for gifted students that engages them in creative problem solving to solve problems within their local and wider school community. The results at the 2011 International Finals for our NZ representatives from Mission Heights Primary School were nothing short of stunning with a significant first position for our school's team.
“We are proud to announce that MHP's Team T.E.A.C.H competed extremely well and have proven that they are World Champions winning first place in the Junior division with their project on building colaborative learning partnership with their local community,” school principal Veeha Vohra said. It was one of only two teams across all three divisions (56 teams and 12 individuals competing across the divisions from primary, Intermediate and Secondary schools) to score full marks as part of the on site competition (390/390), one of four teams to be nominated for the Beyonder Award (awarded to the team that is deemed to go above and well beyond the CmPS project) and finished with the third highest score over the three divisions.
At the international competitions at IU the students had to put together a display, attend a 45-minute interview with international evaluators about their project and then talk to members of the public about their project in the Community Problem Solving Fair. “It is an achievement in itself for a group of students to be selected to go to the international competition to present their project and we are proud of our students Jessie Huang, Khushi Kohli, Sartaj Bedi, Hemin Lee and Krishin Rama who have been privileged to represent their country and our school successfully,” Ms Vohra said. The five students Jessie Huang, Khushi Kohli, Sartaj Bedi, Hemin Lee and Krishin Rama worked on their project over 2 years to encourage a stronger home/school/community partnership.
They worked with grandparents and new migrants in teaching them how to use digital technologies and their own mobile devices effectively, taught English lessons to grand mothers and new migrants to enable them communicate using simple english and organised cultural festivals such as the Bollywood Evening, Lantern Festival and other cultural events to encourage the diverse ethnic communities in the school to integrate socially and at ease with each other. Earlier in 2012, the students were invited to present their project and the CmPS process at the GiftEDNZ conference in Wellington. The students had to speak to a room of over 40 educators from across New Zealand and Australia.
“Team TEACH would like to thank GOPIO Botany (Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin) for their support with the Bollywood festival, such as sourcing performers, helping with lighting and rigging,” Ms Vohra said. “They also appreciate the help that GOPIO's president Mr Seth was able to provide when the team hosted the HPPA Hindi speech finals at Mission Heights Primary - a partnership that will continue into the future. “A huge thank you to all the students, teachers, the Howick Community Board and the MHP community for their support to the team who have given MHP international recognition with their work on a very successful and authentic community project. Congratulations and well done Team TEACH.”
TEAM TEACH Students Partner for Success With Their School Community
The team have spent the last 2 years working together to find a way to work in collaboration with their community to make them valued stakeholders within the school so that the 21 century vision of collaborative learning partnerships is enhanced in 2012 and beyond, in particular focusing on the older generations who had become mere babysitters and housekeepers, despite their qualifications and experiences in their home countries. They identified that the school has lot of different cultures, religions, languages and backgrounds that make up MHP's diverse school community. The group, calling themselves Team TEACH (Technology, English And Cultural Helpers), came together as part of their Community Problem Solving (CmPS) project and identified the growing community and possible disconnect between the school and the community after brainstorming a range of potential problems within the wider community.
Team TEACH students met and surveyed with the school's community to get a better understanding of what the school and the students themselves, could do to promote community partnership and input into the school's personalised learning programmes, where students were leading as teachers. The students contacted a number of community groups, such as SeniorNet, Netsafe, a Korean community group and GOPIO (Global Organization of People of Indian Origin), who all had a common goal of empowering communities and enabling them to establish themselves in 21 Century New Zealand.
Three Exciting Initiatives that the team undertook
Technology – Connectedness for life and learning
The Team TEACH students have since organised technology lessons at the school (taught by themselves) which have become more and more popular as they have an increasing number of grandparents and parents coming as word of their project has spread. These lessons cover applications on the internet that they use in their own learning. They shared different websites to create online presentations, class blogs, websites and used advanced tools on GIMP (photo manipulation software).
English – Medium for communication and information in New Zealand.
Team TEACH contacted two professional English Language teachers, one from the University of Auckland and another from Manukau Institute of Technology to help them organise a programme and resources to teach basic English. The students then taught English language lessons to the older members of MHP's community. Many of the adult students has even started taking groups of students at school teaching embroidery, Punjabi, Hindi and Mandarin lessons as part of our A.C.E. Personalised learning programme.
Cultural – Celebrating, understanding and valuing diversity in our community.
Another way that Team TEACH has got the community involved, is through a variety of cultural celebrations that help bring the school and community together. These include cultural celebrations (Bollywood festival, Dragon Lantern Festival), Zumba lessons, Rugby World Cup celebrations and Grandparents Day, which is one of their most popular initiatives as grandparents come in (some even making overseas travel). These events are now part of MHP's annual calendar. This has resulted in getting more grandparents feeling involved with the school such as helping on school trips and coming in and reading with children, and the benefits are being enjoyed by both grandparents and the students of MHP.