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August 29, 2008

Can Kids Teach Themselves? (Do you remember professor Sugata Mitra?)

I think every teacher who attended the eTwinning conference in Bucharest (Romania) this years remembers professor Sugata Mitra and his "Hole in the Wall" experiments.
The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge.
I have embedded this video for those who haven't listened to professor Mitra yet and for those who want to remember his speech in Bucharest.

Here is also the website of this project: http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

Liliana Mihalachi
Comanesti School, Suceava

Science is everywhere!

The main aim of this project is to help students to understand how sciences improve our lives.
We want to "discover" the chemistry, physics and the mechanisms of the life! Science is universal, science is everywhere!!! Science has enormous influence on our lives. It provides the basis of much of modern technology - the tools, materials, techniques, and sources of power that make our lives and work easier.
The discoveries of scientists also help to shape our views about ourselves and our place in the universe. Science is universal. Imagine a job that doesn't need some background in science. Law? Farming? Running a restaurant? Business? Lawyers must know about DNA testing and forensic evidence. Farmers are swamped with genetic modification choices, salinity problems, worries about the lesser spotted godwit or precious purple frog requiring protection in the lower paddock. As for chefs: try cooking gourmet meals if you've never heard of salmonella or botulism. Business people are challenged constantly by new technology.
The point is there is no job in the 21st century that can be done effectively without some feeling for science.
Participating to the project activities is a unique opportunity for students to stimulate their scientific and analytical observation. Participating in this project can be very instructive but also very fun and you can find friends all over Europe!

In this project are involved 22 schools from 10 countries: Romania-3 schools, Italy-4 schools, Poland –6 schools, Portugal –1 school, Slovakya-1 school, Latvia-2 schools, Spain-1 school, Iceland-1 school, Czech Republic- 2 schools, France- 1 school.

The project "Science is everywhere!" was based on curricular objectives having the following subject clusters: Environment, Cross-curriculum, Geography, Biology, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Foreign Languages, Media, and Sports. The pupils have shared each other photos from their countries and documents of their activities celebrating the most important scientific days in calendar:
-the International Day of Water (March 22nd 2008)
-the International Day of Earth (April 22nd 2008)
-the World Day Against Smoking (May 31st 2008)
-the World Day of the Environment (June 5th 2008)
-the International Sun Day (June 21st 2008), as well as a lot of materials about Biodiversity and Energy.
For the 2008-2009 school year we propose to celebrate the following events:
-International Ozone-layer protection Day (September 16 th 2008)
-International Day for animals protection (October 4 th 2008)
-the World Day of Alimentation (October 16 th 2008)
-AIDS World Day (December 1 st 2008),
as well other scientific events (scientific sessions and exhibitions in the partners schools).
The Science Mathematics Dictionary is our innovative educational product. The pupils have used the photos taken by themselves, not downloaded on the Internet. They have posted them on this dictionary, adding a word for each of it in their language and in English. Then, each partner team had to complete the scientific words in the mother language. This scientific dictionary could be used by all the European friends simply, sorting the terms by column "Type". The pupils liked the idea of multilingual dictionary very much and some of them even suggested including phonetic transcription in each language section. They have added terms from Biology, Physics, Geography, Math, and Chemistry in order to be translated by their European school partners.
The web address on the project: http://my.twinspace.etwinning.net/launchercfmlangencid27016?l=en
During the 2008-2009 school year we will develop the blog too: http://scienceiseverywhere.myblog.it/

Lidia Minza - Chemistry teacher
"Vasile Alecsandri" High School
Galati, Romania

August 27, 2008

A Discovery and an Adventure

This is what eTwinning meant to my pupils and to me.

In the autumn of 2005, I was looking for ways to diversify my activity, to broaden the horizon of my pupils, to learn about collaborative work, to meet teachers from other countries and share experience, to bring something new into our school. Then someone asked me an incomprehensible question that brought a big change into my life: "Would you like to twin with us?". I am grateful to my first partners who opened that door with their trust.

The first project our school was involved in was called "Nature and Human Activity", and since Romania was not in the European Union at that time, I was only a collaborator and an apprentice. It was initiated by schools from Avila (Spain) and Opole (Poland) and it compared the environmental situation and the cultural heritage of our three cities. It was a complex project and, to be honest, first, both me and my students found it a bit difficult to work at. At that time, not all of them had a computer or an Internet connection at home, and using it as a research and creative tool was totally different from every-day school work. As for myself, I didn't know much about computers either and I was afraid I'd not be able to learn so quickly. But, the friendly eTwinning platform made it easy for all of us.

Our school is now part of a few other projects. We've been working with our partners and two new ones, a French school and an Italian one, in an eTwinning project connected to a Comenius one: "PLI. The Place We Live in". There are more teachers and students working and we have been using both internal and external tools, such as the blog or the on-line magazine.

The pupils have grown very fond of this kind of work, of feeling part of a big team, of sharing the tasks and the opinions. Needless to say that the forum is their favourite internal tool. Actually meeting their partners brought a new dimension and improved their social skills. Sometimes their enthusiasm surprised me, there were times when I only had to suggest a topic and they would come with materials on that in a few days. And that is something for my 14 year olds!

We have joined many other schools in a very interesting project called "Traditions across Europe", as this is a topic we like very much; and we have also started a small Maths project, "M@ths on Fingertips", that was a result of a Comenius training course.

It's been a long way and we hope there's still a long one ahead. I know my students would like to go on working on eTwinning and Comenius projects, even the pupils who graduated this summer said they would look for a project in their new high-school or maybe even suggest one. As for me, besides everything I was looking for, this kind of work brought me one more benefit: it motivated me to thoroughly learn using computers and gave me confidence.

A good school year and good luck with their projects to all the eTwinners!

Irina Vasilescu, School no. 92, Bucharest, Romania

Traditions across Europe: an Online European Project Meant to Promote Interculturality

In the European year of intercultural dialogue, the eTwinning project Traditions across Europe is aiming to facilitate intercultural communication and make students and internauts familiar with national, regional and local traditions.

The project consists in a blog which can be accessed at http://traditionsacrosseurope.wordpress.com, where students and teachers of the 21 partner schools have posted and will be posting nice and interesting materials about old and new traditions in their countries, regions and towns. The materials are posted as the events take place, the project being not only a simple collection of traditions, but a blog celebrating events which are lived and being reported on from their proximity.

Traditions across Europe
started in February 2008, having celebrated so far the Italian Carnival, the Lithuanian spring festivals, Mother’s Day, Martisor Day, St. Patrick’s Day, the Catholic Easter and other more events through articles, photos, recipes, drawings, cards, audio and video files. You will also be able to get acquainted with traditional dances, recipes and songs from different European countries. Students’ and internauts’ message exchanges and commentaries have made our virtual space a place where cultural dialogue and communication in general are at home.

New materials will be posted soon, so we all look forward to reading your opinions, suggestions and why not messages that you can enter in our guest book on the blog.

Liliana Mihalachi
Comanesti School, Suceava