Earlier this year I first heard of the website e-twinning at the Naace Teachmeet (see post here: http://swaygrantham.co.uk/naace-teachmeet/) For those of you who do not know e-twinning is a website (www.etwinning.net) which unites schools from across Europe giving them a space:
“to find each other, meet virtually, exchange ideas and practice examples, team up in Groups, learn together in Learning Events and engage in online-based projects.”
How it works
You sign up online and follow the information in the form. It will then search to see if your school has been previously registered and you can complete the registration. From there on it’s up to you, you can go to your ‘desktop’ and from there can find projects or people to get involved with. I found the best way to find active projects was to click ‘Find E-Twinners’ and then go into the age-appropriate forum on the right hand side. This ensures the project is still running and people are actively trying to recruit it.
Projects can be pretty much anything you want to do as long as you can get people to join you in them. There needs to be two ‘partners’ to propose the project so that it has somewhere to go and from there you can recruit as many schools as you like. I have heard of projects from a small scale such as a 10 minute a week Skype call in a language class sharing the reading of ‘A Hungry Caterpillar’. A class in France reading 2 pages in English and the class in England returning the same 2 pages put reading them in French. The opposite side of the scale has seen the organisation of a ‘Eurovision song contest’ where participating schools held auditions and then submitted their entry to be voted upon by 20 other schools across Europe.
Me and My World
I have now decided to use my time slot on an afternoon in year 4 to allow the children to partake in ‘Me and My World’. This year we begin the IPC (International Primary Curriculum) which as the name suggests has a greater focus on the world and global connections. The first module the year 4 children will be studying is called ‘Paintings, Pictures and Photographs’ which focuses on using these media to represent things around them. This project seemed to tie in perfectly with this.
I approached the project organisers who immediately replied and told me what they had planned:
- Let’s get to know each other – creating pupils’ personal cards in the shape of a flower and after that preparing a class ‘bouquet’; taking class photos and creating a class collage
- My school – creating a slideshow consisting of photos/drawings, my dream school – a poster or a slideshow
- My town – designing posters promoting hometowns, creating online jigsaw puzzles
- My family – family photos/drawings, family activities, integration events – a video, videoconference with a pantomime game “Guess my parents’ jobs”, creating family trees
- My pet – playing and making with modelling clay, creating riddles for partners)
- Healthy diet – preparing healthy meals; creating posters with food pyramid)
- Free time activities –
- Our grandparents’ toys, creating simple puppets, our hobbies (videoconference with a pantomime game “Guess my hobby”)
- Our favourite fairy tales (combining key words of favourite fairy tales and turning them into works of art; designing bookmarks for partners as a gift)
- Interactive Hangman with the titles of popular fairy tales
- Preparing a puppet theatre performance (pupils from other schools watch the plays and guess their titles/plots and draw/paint their favourite scenes.
This was still the rough sketches of their plans but has now been proposed more thoroughly and approved to go ahead. Currently there are schools taking part from Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania x 2, Czech Republic, Spain x 2, Poland, Latvia and of course myself in the UK. The project will be running from September to May and I look forward to reporting the findings as we progress.
Skype Classroom Project
Another international initiative is the Skype Classroom Project (http://education.skype.com/) which I have heard of frequently but until recently hadn’t explored properly. You sign in with your Skype account and can using Twitter or Facebook to automatically fill in your profile, from here you can then begin searching for projects. From my experience the projects listed are not always up-to-date and can often not receive responses so you need to pick carefully.
If you use the ‘Collections’ tab at the top there are many recommended projects and I have seen more success with these. I am currently intrigued by the ‘Editors Choice’ selection as there are many projects that seem very exciting. Currently I have not entered into any projects here as we are still waiting to update our policies and get permission from parents before beginning any video conferencing however I look forward to getting into these in the near future. Since being registered on the website I have already been contacted by 3 other teachers hoping to pair up and share a Skype conversation with my class so even without the projects there are many benefits to being registered.