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October 30, 2008

Discover Europe through a set of interactive learning objects!

In the previous school year my pupils and I together with a group of pupils and teachers from Italy and Spain worked on an e-Twinning project called ‘Discover Europe’(a safe web-based collaborative project focused on cultural awareness and intercultural learning).
Apart from exchanging information and photos about our local communities and our customs and traditions we decided to create a set of interactive learning objects based on the participating pupils’ personal accounts about their cultures (multiple choice exercises, drag and drop exercises, crosswords, fill-in exercises etc). These are digital modules built on certain didactic sequences aiming to enable a learner to acquire knowledge and skills on a specific topic or theme.
They help teachers increase their learners' interest and motivation in learning. Besides, they make learning and teaching more dynamic, intuitive and interactive and improve both pupils’ and teachers’ ICT skills.
As regards our learning objects, they are focused on cultural awareness and intercultural learning and aim to help pupils reinforce the information learned in the project.
I was really surprised to see how much of their own time my pupils devoted to participating in the project as they found eTwinning a rich and rewarding experience!
That is why, beginning with this school year our School Board has decided to include it in our school curriculum and allocate an optional course addressed to the 5th grade A and 7th grade A.

Thanks to the eTwinning initiative we all learned together by sharing and discovered many interesting facts about our national culture as well as the one of other European countries. Besides, the eTwinning project encouraged and motivated our pupils and their teachers not only to learn about each other using the opportunities offered by the new technologies, but also to develop their sense of awareness of being part of a dynamic, European community.
For more information about the interactive learning objects created within our eTwinning project , please visit the following link: http://www.geocities.com/scoalagen191/interactive_learning_objects

Coordinating teacher: Andreea Silter, School No. 191, Bucharest, Romania

I am a child, just like you!

The evolution and the transformations in the social area which took place in our country for the past years, have highlighted the necessity of some special services in the phicho-pedagogigal and social fields. These special services are addressed to several categories of beneficiaries- people in difficulty or with several needs which they cannot handle and who often end up behind isolated, maladjusted, marginalized or isolated from the society.
With this project, we hope to reduce some of this difficulties which characterize many children who come from a family or from The Recovery Centre of the Children with severe Handicap Galata, Iasi.
“Tudor Argezi” School, The B structure of “Titu Maiorescu” school from Iasi, wants to facilitate the access of the pupils with special needs to free speech, education, games, songs, arts, practical abilities, stories, theatre, puppet plays by giving them a programme centered on the individual. We have chosen various activities, we have become partners with other schools and institutions, which will help our pupils to socialize, make friends and communicate.
There is no doubt that these children are seeking for love and support, just like the rest of us. That’s why the society cannot oversee or abandon these children with special needs and must offer them an equal chance.
All the activities we planned focus on reducing the marginalization of the children with special needs by the community and also, we want to give them opportunities to enlarge their knowledge horizon so that their social and relational results improve.
eTwinning is a great opportunity for all kids from Europe .
Teacher Eugenia Apetroi
“Titu Maiorescu” School-structure ”Tudor Arghezi” - Iasi (Romania)

October 24, 2008

Calendar

Maria Vaida, "Ioan Bob" School, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

eTwinning a great opportunity for pupils and for teachers

Last year, in October, Romania was accepted in eTwinning and I was very delighted that I became a member of this community. In a short time I find a partner for my project, a school from Spain, Colegio Caja Granada.
Our project is called THE CELEBRATION OF THE MONTH. The pupils, coordinated by the teachers work on gathering information related to the most important holidays of each month (ethno-folkloric, literary, historical etc). In the same time different products are developed: articles for the school magazine, pp presentations, a web site, CDS, a holiday calendar, an album with all the phases of the project. The representative works are published on the Internet in English, Romanian and Spanish.
During the activities performed together with the partner school the teams will identify the similarities but also the differences between the two cultures. There will be supplementary foreign language lessons, lessons about local and national history and geography. These activities will constitute a good opportunity for practicing linguistic competencies but also for socializing and developing tolerance and mutual respect.
The development of the project will be permanently monitored, the suggested objectives will be followed, and the activities will be adapted to the newly appeared needs.
The dissemination of the results will be an important aspect of the project. It will be realized throughout the whole period of the partnership. Finally, they will be presented at both schools involved and to the public in order to generate interest for learning foreign languages and to understand the similarities and differences between European cultures.
http://thecelebrationofthemonth.wetpaint.com/ - here you can see a part of our work
We do our best in order that our school should obtain a European dimension with a large opening towards Europe, conditioned by the entrance of Romania into EU.

This project constitutes an opportunity for our pupils to practice and develop their linguistic competencies. On the other hand involving pupils in an intercultural dialogue would improve their personal development and would contribute to a better social cohesion.
Our expectations are:
- The cooperation between the involved schools in order to identify cultural similarities based on the Latin origin of our countries; involvement in an intercultural dialogue.
- The promotion of some national and local elements together with the acceptance and respect for the cultural identity of each country.
- The formation of research and learning skills necessary for personal development and social integration.
- Raising awareness of the importance of life long learning.
- Improvement of pupils motivation and their communication skills in a foreign language.
- Formation language competencies in other languages besides those learnt at school.

Maria Vaida, "Ioan Bob" School, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

October 20, 2008

eTwinning the European Heart

The country: EUROPE
Let´s make the European heart beat!


Teacher and students can gain a lot from eTwinning project. Here goes my opinion about it:
- Improve skill languages;
- Learn about each country culture, economics, folks, food habits, politics aspects, geography, history and others;
- Exchange experience about pedagogical strategies;
- Improve the use of ICT tools and also learn how to use new ones;
- Be aware of difference between European countries and learn to respect them;
- And many other pedagogical aspects.
I think it´s important to fill near to other countries! Portuguese people use to say “Away from the eyes away form the heart”. After an eTwinning project we learn to love and worry about someone in other country. I really think it ´s important to approach people and that students fill near each other, because younger’s are our future!

So, eTwinning approach ours hearts. And after all, we are a country called EUROPE!

October 19, 2008

My name is Asterio

October 17, 2008

About eTwinning projects...

Hello!
My name is Aurelia; I`m chemistry teacher in Constanta, the most beautiful Romanian city port from Black Sea. I want to tell everybody about my eTwinning`s practice.I have 2 European labels, a lot of friends and many teaching`s experiences. Last school year, I was involved in a few eTwinning projects. For many projects, collaboration was`nt only virtual: I found my partners for Comenius project (the project was winner!), I knew new friends from Czech Republic (we have visit each other), I met new colleagues for new eTwinning projects.
eTwinning experience was the most interesting part of my past school year! I love eTwinning! Welcome for the new partners!
Aurelia Cezar, Constanta - Romania

October 15, 2008

Learning by cooperation- an eTwinning characteristic

One of the most important and most generous features of the eTwinning concept is learning by means of cooperation.
Some time ago, I noticed that there was a widespread opinion among teachers that only competitive relationships generate a proper motivation for learning, but many experimental research and analysis have highlighted the differences between learning through cooperation, learning in an individualistic manner and the one done in a competition situation, emphasizing the high efficiency of groups of students facing a common task of learning.
A class is a specific social group that mediates, in time, fundamental changes at the cognitive level of each of its members. The climate in the class has a huge impact on the perceptions that the students and teachers have, reflect the reasons for which they work (or don’t work) together, the ability to talk together and to examine ideas critically and reflects the characteristics of that class as a learning community.
The collaborative learning climate, such as the one in the projects, brings:
• in terms of school performance: more effort to succeed, therefore, better results for all the pupils (labeled in the traditional manner as "very good", "mediocre", "weak"), inner motivation, involvement in solving tasks, a better dosage of the available time in order to achieve the task, critical thinking;
· in terms of interpersonal relationships: deeper and warmer pupils’ relationships by boosting team spirit, appreciation and valuing of multi-ethnical diversity through the development of empathy and cohesion at the national and international group level.
· in terms of personal identity: self-identity strengthening, development of social skills, self-image improvement, developing the capacity to handle stress and adversity.

Through such an management of the learning situations, students positively rely on each other, and this positive interdependence leads to loyalty towards the group. Other essential elements in learning through cooperation are :
· the responsibility of the individual
· stimulating interaction
· interpersonal skills and competencies
· awareness and assessment of the way the group works
When learning is achieved through cooperation on a regular basis, students can turn from “lonely learners” into “colleagues who learn together”, reaching levels of academic competence both in the group and as members of teams.
Groups that learn through cooperation focus on maximizing the academic success of all the group members.

Irina Vasilescu, School no.92, Bucharest, Romania

October 13, 2008

Invitation to be our partner

We are two schools: Základní škola Malecí, Nové Město nad Metují, Česká Republika and Scoala "Ioan Bob" Cluj-Napoca, Romania and we start a project in which we would like to associate with us a lot of many schools to create a great Eurobook.

Eurobook: Around Europe. This is our project. http://eurobook.wetpaint.com/

What is the project „Around Europe“?
It is a tendency in it, that children of all EU will make together one big book about the place, where they live. That place called Europe. Each school will process a few of pages about their country, towns and surroundings, famous people and school. A part of the book will be an internacional vocabulary with the most use phrases. If the book will finaled, it will printed and gived to weave.

Organization of the itself project (themes):
My country
Capital
Famous people
My town
Our school
Evaluation
Vocabulary
Children will send e-mail messages, learn to make web pages, prepare and make pictures and photografies, chat, skype and viedeo-conference will be used = virtual meeting on the internet, PowerPoint, DVD, video, phorum.
If any of you are interested in our project we will be glad to include a new twinn.

Maria Vaida
"Ioan Bob" School, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

October 11, 2008

eTwinning-a open gate for making friendships

My students come from Romania, from a country school named "Dimitrie Anghel", a flower's poet.She is situated near Iasi city, in Cornesti-Miroslava.My name is Dorina Marin and I'm their primary teacher.
We have participated at several etwinning projects since 2006, firstlly as guests, then as partners.We have started with "Across The Bible Across Europe", a project about truth, justice, sympathy, generosity, forgiveness and love, coordonated by Teresa Fernandes from Escola Secondaria de "D.Dinis"-Lisboa-Portugal and Irene Szymansky from "Peter Petersen"School-Frankfurt/Main-Germania.In time, we have descover new friends: from IES-Thalassa-Barcelona-Spain-Eva Campoy and Marc Julia-"How young european combat boredom",from GBS De Waterleest, Eppegem-Belgium-Kristof de Loose-"Happy faces join us",from 1ο Δημοτικό Σχολείο Γιαννιτσών, Γιαννιτσά-Greece-Zoe Abrazi and from Direzione Didattica Rionero in Vulture, Rionero in Vulture (PZ) -Italy-Maria Teresa Carrieri-"My school through time", from Szkoła Podstawowa nr 9 im. Orląt Lwowskich w Tarnowie -Poland-Krystyna Gądek-"How we spend our freetime" and from Escola Secondaria de "D.Dinis"-Lisboa-Portugal-Teresa Fernandes-"Joy@Singing".In the new school year 2008-2009 we have found others and we have started new projects.
That experience, since last years, from etwinning portal, was a good opportunity for our students to learn how to identify cultural similarities and differences, about new customs and values and how to gain intercultural experience.
We have learn many things about each others and we think now that Europe is not just a "strange place"but a open gate for making friendships, and we can define that in three important words:"We love eTwinning !"
We invite you to see some memories from our life on eTwinning:http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8243889612660642319&hl=en

October 07, 2008

Different Ways of Using Photos in a Project

Photos are a very important element in a project, a way of both displaying our work and expressing our ideas. As the old proverb goes: “A picture says a thousand words.”
The TwinSpace offers a good way to use them, in photo-galleries, but since I usually take quite a lot of photos, I have been looking for more ways to display them within my projects. This is what I have found so far:

1.You can turn your photos into videos, using Photo Story 3 for Windows or Windows Movie Maker. I used both for JPEG files and they are both easy to use. The steps to take are more or less the same: you import the pictures (one by one or multiple files, from your computer or from a network folder-for the Photo Story, or a video device- for the Movie Maker), you arrange them in the order you want by simply dragging them to the right place and then you can edit the video. With the Photo Story, you can automatically or manually crop the photos, correct the contrast, the colour levels, the red eyes, add various effects such as Black and White that change the appearance of the picture. The Movie Maker also has lots of effects and the navigation is even easier, as the interface is quite similar to the Office suite.
Note that none of the changes that you make affects the original picture that is stored on your computer, a network folder, or on the Internet.

You can then choose a transition and set the time, add titles and/or narration and a musical background to your video and preview the clip. The way to save your video depends on what you want to do with it: you can choose to save it to the computer, to a CD, to a DV camera, send it in an e-mail or uploading it on the web. The file format is .wmv, the file might sometimes be too heavy to be uploaded on the TS, especially the Movie Maker videos, but it can be embedded on blog posts or uploaded on Youtube and linked. For downloading the Photo Story 3 for Windows, go to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx

2. Anoher way to use your pictures is to turn them into a slide-show. A very easy way is using www.slide.com/ because you don’t have to prepare the slide-show in advance, you just upload the photos, arrange them, add captions and make it on the spot, using all the options you are offered: style, skin, themes, music (you can’t upload your own), background, effects, size and privacy. You then save the slide-show and get the code you can use to embed the show. It’s very quick and simple. My students can use it too and they are very happy to see a spectacular slide-show they have made without a big effort.

Irina Vasilescu, School no. 92, Bucharest, Romania

October 02, 2008

eTwinning - a great opportunity to make a lot of friends from all European Union

First of all, I present myself:
I am a Maths teacher in a big school, named Scoala "Liviu Rebreanu" from Mioveni, Arges, Romania.
My school has registered on the etwinning platform in October 2007. By participating in eTwinning projects, students and teachers from my schol had the opportunity to communicate with other students and teachers from all participating countries, to exchange impressions about the culture, civilization and education of each nation from European Union, to improve IT competencies and languages.
All our projects were presented in the meeting with parents, of the committee methods, the local council of our town Mioveni, to our blog for school
http://liviurebreanuschool.blogspot.com
http://www.freewebs.com/scoalarebreanu
This was an incentive for other colleagues to enter into such projects.
For the activity of our school in etwinning, we were awarded with Quality Label and European Quality Label.

For me, the inclusion in such projects has been an amazing thing: we managed to communicate daily with partners from Greece, Poland, France, UK, Italy, Esonia, Letonia, Lithuania, Iceland, Bulgaria, Belgium, Scotland, Czech Republic. I learned a lot of news about using new technologies and improved my language skills (English).
Examples of some of my projects (and some websites and blogs created by myself):

Europe is mine, Europe is yours, Europe is ours


Let's get to know ourselves and our cities


Mother's Day


Multimedia mathematical entertainment for young Europans on holiday


Our School


How children see the autumn


Knowing Europe through Constitution


Such a Beautiful Europe

MARIANA RADULESCU,
teacher from Scoala "Liviu Rebreanu" Mioveni, Arges, Romania

October 01, 2008

eTwinning: my story… with a happy end.

First a few words about my professional situation… so you can better understand how I experienced working within eTwinning and what and how I learned.

I am a primary school teacher working in 5 primary schools and in kindergarten.
I am ICT co-ordinator for these schools and co-ordinator for all the ICT-teachers in the region.
I was teacher trainer for 9 years in the catholic school system in Flanders.
I started 25 years ago with ICT in my class and in my school. 10 years ago I started with eTwinning projects with partners from all over the world. (They called it ‘twinning-projects’.)
More than 20 projects are now completed, some are small, other very big.

A few years ago The European Schoolnet started with eTwinning and so I join this important project with my activities and my partners in Europe.

What did I learn working within eTwinning? (as a teacher, co-ordinator and teacher trainer)

-eTwinning projects made it possible to integrate ICT better in all areas of the curriculum.
Before eTwinning the computer was for the most part used in training of Arithmetic’s and language. My search for integration of ICT went in the right direction.

Examples: (some of my projects)

ICT and protection of nature
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/anewworld.htm

ICT and children’s rights
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/sleutel.htm

ICT and feelings
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/feelings/kidshandinhand.htm

ICT and art
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/earthlink.htm

Communication and collaboration are the keywords.

-International collaboration and communication made it possible to create new materials. Virtual and real objects that can be used by everyone. In these materials you discover ideas of teachers and children from different countries and cultures.

Examples: (some of my projects)

A card game about “expressing feelings”
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/feelings/kidshihcardgame.htm

A collection of animals
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/zooproject/zoo.htm

-I learned to create my own online software and tools that can be used by our partners.

Examples: (some of my projects)

A sketching program
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/feelings/kidshihflash.html

A construction game
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/meetkunde2/lgotorenstart.htm

-I learned to build up an eTwinning strategy, so I can help my colleagues to start up their own projects.

My 10 rules are:
-keep it simple
-use a universal language
-use a universal subject
-involve all your pupils
-make use of virtual and real objects
-look for partners all over Europe (the world)
-make your own online tools (or make use…)
-reply to your e-mails
-join the projects of your partners
-(let) evaluate your project


How did I learn?

I started very early before Internet was used by most people (with FIDO-net). I built up a bulletin board and communicated with other teachers in a very very slow way…

I learned by doing, often with a lot of difficulties. 10 years ago I had to send 5000 e-mails to find some partners. Now I have a team of 25 fine people from Europe and all over the world. always ready to work with me… Now the European Schoolnet and eTwinning is THE instrument to find a partner.

I learn a lot during my teacher training sessions: teachers needed open source software, pictures, documentation. They had a lot of questions…

Once a teacher said: “The computer will destroy the social connections between people”. Since this day on I try to proof the opposite.

Did eTwinning change my life and my teaching?

Yes, as you see I learned a lot… ICT integration is for me the most important problem.
But there is more!
I met great teachers with great ideas. I met new friends who even travelled from the other side of he world to see me and to teach my pupils.


What would I be without eTwinning? I don’t know? Maybe a lonely computer nerd…
eTwinning saved my life ;-)

“eTwinning is winning!” That’s my conclusion! That’s my story!

Lieven Van Parys, Primary Schools Meulebeke, BELGIUM
(Now working on a few new projects ;-)

@ni & m@te
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/animations/aniandmate.htm

Make @ wiz
http://www.sintamandusmeulebeke.be/myworld/makeawiz.htm

Research and Creativity

WebQuests are a possible way to work combining research and creativity, two features any eTwinning project needs. Using specific Internet tools, the WebQuest technique suggests a new method of working, based on the constructivist idea of students designing their own knowledge through personal effort, a model of searching the Web space, which includes at the same time the elements of learning through cooperation . The technique was developed and implemented in 1995 in the U.S. by Bernie Dodge and Tom March, professors at State University of San Diego. There are a number of references (mostly web references) that try to define the WebQuest model and various ways of organizing it. Dodge defines the WebQuest like this: „A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web”. At the same time, he gives at least two distinct levels of an organization WebQuest:

Short Term WebQuests

A short term WebQuest aims to the acquisition and integration of knowledge. At the end of implementing such a project in a short period of time, the student has gathered a significant amount of new information and proceeded to its in-depth understanding. A short term WebQuest can be completed in one to three-hour time.

Long Term WebQuest

A long term WebQuest aims to enlarge, structure and refine the knowledge. After attending a long term WebQuest, the student has processed and analyzed the accessed information, transforming it to a certain extent. Finally, he demonstrates knowledge of the material by creating a product to which the others are expected to respond on-line or off-line. A long term WebQuest is normally completed with one class during a one week up to a month period.

Regardless of the duration (short-term or long), a WebQuest must be created in such a way as to organize the student’s learning time as well as possible. Therefore, a WebQuest must be efficient and to clearly state the purpose for which it was created. „WebQuests are designed to use learners time well, to focus on using information rather than on looking for it, and to support learners thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” (Bernie Dodge). Therefore, the teacher must rigorously organize the tasks, the steps to be made and, most importantly, to choose and recommend to the students those sites from where they can take their best information. The more numerous, diverse and offering a wider range of information the sites are, the more the student has the opportunity to know more and set up an interesting final product.

The WebQuests are usually group activities, often include motivation elements by providing the learners with a scenario or a role to play and can be within a single subject or interdisciplinary. There is a "formula" to be respected when designing a WebQuest in order to achieve efficiency. This should include the following sections:

• The introduction – gives the student some background information, orientates him and makes him interested;
• The task - which describes the activities that will lead to the final product; it should be clear and interesting.
• The process- which explains the steps of the strategies that the student must use to fulfil the task;
• The resources -the sites, books, databases etc. that the students access to fulfil their task;
•The evaluation - which measures the results of their activity;
• The conclusion - a summary of activities that encourages the students to reflect on the benefits of the course and the results they have obtained.

The required thinking skills for a long term WebQuest include:comparing, classifying, inducing, deducing, analyzing errors, constructing support, abstraction and analyzing perspectives.
Dodge suggests that the tasks should form three groups: Input (this area should contain articles, images, news, music, reports, data that pupils get directly from the Web in order to process), Processing (transformation of the input data in order to obtain a final product), Output (the initial data are turned into results that can also be the starting point of other learning processes). Moreover, the adequate tasks according to the WebQuest taxonomy could be: information rendering, compiling, problem solving, design, creative tasks, reasoning, analysis, assessment, scientific tasks or tasks related to journalism and so on.

Complete information about creating a WebQuest, as well as examples, templates and other useful resources on http://webquest.org/index.php

Irina Vasilescu, School no. 92, Bucharest, Romania