A Mosaic of Global Exchange: iEARN Educator Naila from Pakistan Implements Multiple iEARN Projects

Dispaly Of Club Activites

Have you ever thought of engaging your students in more than one iEARN project at a time, but were unsure of how to put such a plan into action? iEARN educator Naila Fahim, a Technology/IT Coordinator for both primary and secondary levels at Aga Khan School Garden in Karachi, Pakistan, has implemented eight different iEARN projects at her school in the last two years. iEARN-USA recently reached out to her to learn how teachers can best engage their students in multiple iEARN projects simultaneously. 

When Naila’s school, which has been a part of the iEARN community for the past 10 years, designated her as the leader of their iEARN Club two years ago, she eagerly embraced the challenge to give her students a rich and varied experience with iEARN’s global projects. The club met for one hour every Thursday; yet despite the limited time she had with each class, Naila was able to work with each head teacher to implement the following five iEARN projects for more than 700 students: Get to Know Others, My Name Around the World, The Origami Project, Holiday Card Exchange, and Don’t Waste - Create. She selected each project based on the age range of the class and level of interest in the topic. Then, with around 140 students assigned to each project, Naila broke each large group into 8 groups composed of roughly 17 students each. These groups spend 3 weeks participating in each project. Naila and her teacher colleagues started each project by introducing the students to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which she says “was really helpful for proper understanding, as all iEARN projects are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

In addition to the projects she implemented through her school’s iEARN Club, Naila engaged students in the afterschool program through three other projects: Water is Life, Drastic Plastics, and Every Day is Earth Day. The students participating in these projects all started different campaigns in their local communities to raise awareness about environmental issues. 

Water Is Life

Some of the biggest challenges Naila encountered were teacher time management, varying time zones, language barriers, and response time from partner classrooms. With only one hour per week to conduct iEARN project activities through the iEARN Club, Naila found that she needed to work hard to successfully integrate iEARN projects into the relevant subject’s existing curriculum. “The language was another barrier,” says Naila. However, while students from certain parts of the world were less familiar with English, she observed that “still, the students tried very hard.” And while at times it took a significant amount of time to receive responses from partner classrooms, she says the projects were ultimately successful.

Indeed, despite these challenges, Naila says that “the end products overcame everything…the excitement in the eyes of my students and the smiles on the faces of the teachers brightened the day...Knowing about the new countries like Belarus and Slovenia...and exploring their maps and flags was real learning.” 

Cards Received From Pakistan Holiday Card Exchange
Display Of Flags Cards And Origamy Products From Japan

She noted the following as highlights from some of the projects in which her school participated:

  • Holiday Card Exchange Project: “In this digital world, when sending and receiving greeting cards is a long-lost tradition, students along with their families got active in preparing handmade New Year cards. The cards were mailed to partner schools in Japan, Taiwan, Russia, Slovenia, Australia, Belarus and Spain. It was fascinating to see how excited the children were when they received cards and letters from partner schools in different countries. The cards were displayed in large school assemblies and in an exhibition to show the school community. It was unique for students to learn about holiday traditions of other countries.” 
  • Origami Project: “Students and teachers partnered with a school in Japan, the country where origami originated. During the first module the students enjoyed the making of fish and butterflies...The Students sent origami products, pictures and videos to the partner schools in Japan…and received origami products and material from these partner schools.”
  • My Name Around the World Project: “Students researched their names and prepared visual presentations and calligraphic posters. They shared them with a partner school in Taiwan...and students learned about the origin of different names around the world.”
  • Get to Know Others Project: “The students researched about different local and international festivals, prepared visual presentations and calligraphic posters. They also celebrated our local festivals at school, such as Milad, Children’s Day, Mother’s Day, New Year’s, Eid, Ramadan and Earth Day.”
  • Don’t Waste - Create Project: “The students enjoyed the making of products from recycled materials. We started an urban gardening Don’t Waste - Create project. During the second module the students enjoyed working at a botanical garden, where they sowed seeds and harvested eggplant, chilies, papaya, sweet neem (curry leaves) and different flowers.”
  • Everyday is Earth Day Project and Earth Day Project 2020: “In collaboration with the IEARN project Every Day is Earth Day, the students organized a cleanup drive. They also celebrated Earth Day online, promising ‘24 hours of action’ to ‘fill the digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more.’”
Origami Products By Students
Origami Products From Pakistan Displayed At Japan

Although Naila’s school has been physically closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students, with the help of their teachers, have continued to participate in iEARN’s Don’t Waste - Create, Drastic Plastics, and Water Is Life projects in the iEARN Collaboration Centre and through social media and Whatsapp groups. Some of their final products can be seen on this electronic canvas with drawings commemorating Earth Day from iEARN classrooms around the world. 

For Naila, the benefits of engaging her students in iEARN projects have been overwhelmingly positive. “The biggest advantage my students and I gained was acquiring information about the other countries. We exchange our flags and maps. My students got really excited about other cultures’ pictures and information. Students were then able to identify other countries in the world.” We look forward to seeing more amazing project work from Naila’s students and hope her example will serve to inspire other iEARN educators to embrace the challenge of engaging their students in multiple iEARN projects.

Holiday Card Exchange Students Work