1st June 2016

Welcome Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin and Olafsfjordur to the International Schools Godwit Project!

Pupils from Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin with members of the West Cork branch of BirdWatch Ireland on their outing to Clonakilty Estuary to look for Black-tailed Godwits.

A lot of activity over the last few months has resulted in a godwit twinning between Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty, Cork and Ása Árnadóttir's school in Olassfjordur in Northern Iceland. Edain O'Donnell, who works at the school, put a lot of work and effort into making this happen. One of the teachers involved from Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin in Clonakilty, M. Elaine Long, rang a 6 muinteoir, had this to say:

Sixth class are gaining great enjoyment and benefitting from our connection with the school in Olafsfjordur. During our skype sessions, we have updated each other on our work with godwits, which is the main aim of the connection.

In addition to this, however, we have built a context for the habitats of these godwits. The children here in Clonakilty completed projects on Iceland as part of geography lessons and were intrigued by the natural features of the country – lagoons, volcanoes, glaciers and geysers. We learned through our Skype conversations that Iceland also experiences earthquakes. A boy in our class celebrates his birthday on Iceland’s “Independence Day” and hopes to visit the country on his birthday sometime. One day in April, we looked out the window of a classroom in Iceland and saw a landscape of white snow, and we showed our Icelandic friends the view from our own window – blue sky, green grass and the sun raising temperatures to the mid-teens. Seeing these differing landscapes brings the journey of the godwit to life in our mind’s eye – what he is leaving behind in Ireland and meeting in Iceland.

“People and other lands” is a strand unit in the geography curriculum which aims to study aspects of the environments and lives of people in other places; to develop an increasing awareness of the interdependence of people in these places and people in Ireland; that children value and respect the diversity of peoples and their lifestyles in these areas and other parts of the world; and to develop a sense of belonging to local, county, national, European and international communities. The godwit connection was an ideal basis from which to achieve all of these aims and more. The movement of the birds between Iceland and Ireland is our link and common connection, but we found that other aspects of our lives and our countries are completely different.

Our children are certainly developing their sense of belonging through this link, that is, we now belong to the community of godwit-watchers and those who discuss these birds and their movements. In addition, we are also getting a sense of the godwit belonging – the godwit is a shared resource belonging equally to Iceland and the western coast of Europe. Because the godwit belongs to us, we must accept our responsibilities towards this bird, bringing us nicely to another geography curriculum strand – environmental awareness and care.

The learning opportunities provided by a project like this are endless, and the children grasp these learning opportunities with open arms because they are active, interactive and inter-connected. We would highly recommend that other classes make a connection such as this.

Ása Árnadóttir, the contact teacher in Olafsfjordur had this to say recently:

Við lærðum um jaðrakana þegar við vorum í 4. bekk og fórum í fuglaskoðun þá. Það er gaman að fara út að læra. Við erum líka að læra um Evrópu í landafræði. Okkur finnst líka gaman að kynnast krökkum í öðru landi.
Nýjustu fréttir eru þær að jaðrakanarnir eru komnir, þann 24. apríl voru 90 jaðrakanar komnir til Siglufjarðar og þar á meðal var jaðrakaninn sem Margrét Brynja ættleiddi, merkið hans er Y8-LG. Þetta er karlfugl og hefur sést á Englandi,í janúar var hann í Essex.

(We learnt about godwits when we were in 4th grade and went birdwatching. It is fun going out and learning. We are also learning about Europe so it is also a good opportunity to get to know kids in other countries.
Latest news is that the godwits have arrived, there were 90 godwits in Siglufjörður the 24th of April and among them was the bird Margrét Brynja adopted Y8-LG,.
It is a male bird and has been seen in England, last January it was in Essex.)



Pupils from Gaelscoil Mhichíl Uí Choileáin Skyping pupils from the school in Olafsfjordur, northern Iceland.