Hard at work on laptops at St. Pius X School are sixth-graders Jack Reding, Julia Spuck and Mary Maidment. The class uses laptops to communicate and learn from Swedish peers. (Courtesy St. Pius X School)
Hard at work on laptops at St. Pius X School are sixth-graders Jack Reding, Julia Spuck and Mary Maidment. The class uses laptops to communicate and learn from Swedish peers. (Courtesy St. Pius X School)
This fall, St. Pius X School in Northwest Portland began a three-year partnership with JDO Foundation’s Global Collaboration Program.

Megan Cleary, a teacher-leader, and her sixth-grade social studies classes will participate in an online communications project with students at Mellanhedsskolan School in Sweden. They start with a collaborative research assignment on Swedish immigration to America and will finish in a Google Slides presentation of their discoveries. In October, the students on each side of the Atlantic met each other through FaceTime using an iPad. They discovered commonalities, including songs and sports. One difference caused a bit of jealousy in both groups: students in Sweden are required to take off their shoes in class.

The JDO Foundation’s goal is to establish global partnerships “to enable students to be accomplished, well-informed digital citizens and global thought leaders.” Judy O’Connell Coon, an educator for more than 25 years, established the foundation after realizing technology can unlock education and allow students to find commonalities despite differences in culture, religion or geographic location.

St. Pius X was given 57 Chromebooks and two iPads for the sixth-graders to use in their Swedish partnership. Students can use the devices throughout the school day, helping their learning.

“It’s interesting to see what they like and we like,” said Jack Reding, one of the sixth-grade participants from St. Pius X.

“It’s cool learning about another culture,” Julia Spuck added.

Mary Maidment sums it up: “It’s fun!”