The Innovation Project

I was so lucky to stumble upon a tweet which was about The Innovation Project and of course, since I am always interested in joining international projects and giving my students the chance of meeting new friends and sharing their work with them, I asked to join it.

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The job had to be done in four weeks, not the best weeks in our school year since we started at the beginning of May, but I really found amazing the fact that despite the little time we unluckily could devote to the project, the students managed to do everything by the deadlines and quite well, or so I think.

The first week was about brainstorming the idea of innovation. Working in groups the students had to come up with a definition and an analysis of positive aspects and drawbacks. They had to prepare a video about it. 

The second week was about connecting the idea of innovation to the SDGs, so they decided to focus on SDG #7 Affordable and Clean Energy and they thought of creating a Power Bike which can produce energy through some small solar panels and then such energy can be used for example to recharge mobile phones batteries. Maybe not too original but considering the short time they had, I thought it was brilliant!

The third week was about different activities: deeper analysis of SDGs and creation of a tutorial which illustrates a tool the students find useful in their every day job. They prepared some presentations about the SDGs they focused on and a tutorial about the app SimpleMind+, which they use to create mindmaps.

The fourth week was the real fun: we could arrange for some Skype sessions with some of the other schools involved in the project. We had a chance of meeting the students from the International School of Beijing, who talked to us about the radio they have at school and shared their idea of innovation; then we met also the students from the Lebanon Trail High School from Texas, who had done an amazing job about their idea of innovative products.

The project  was a great experience for me and gave me also the possibility to think about my job and find new ways to do it. The enthusiasm which I saw in my students and in all the students that we met during the Skype sessions really makes it clear that if you work on something so globally important and you can compare your job with that of hundreds of others, it is really worth it. The chance I had of bringing the world into my classroom is something priceless.

Here is the Sutori that shows all the work we have done   The Innovation Project

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Sutori

I found out about Sutori a couple of years ago when I needed to create a timeline and I was looking for a suitable tool.

During the discussions about Brexit I realized that my students knew very little about the European Union so I started thinking about an activity which could teach them some facts about it but in an involving and pleasant way. Years ago the topic was always dealt with in classes but it was really boring since there were not so many tools that allowed us to create engaging activities.

At first I simply thought of creating a timeline with the most important events  that led to the Union, but soon I realized that Sutori offers much more and so I chose to create sort of webquest and instead of explaining facts, I just wrote some questions asking the students to look for the answers. I thought that, if the students had to look for information, collect it and then get ready to present what they had found out, the activity could be much more helpful and entertaining.

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What makes Sutori different from other tools that allow to create timelines is its flexibility.

As a matter of fact, you could do much more than just create a timeline and I started using in a lot of different ways:

  1. to introduce topics through sort of webquest   Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 19.10.13
  2. to make students work collaboratively – here is an example of a Sutori created by students who worked in small groups on the evolution of technology  Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 19.13.16
  3. to record about class activities – here is an example of how we use Sutori to keep a journal of Skype meetings we have with a class from Poland  Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 19.17.33
  4. to organize an online course for a group of colleagues who want to improve their English. Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 19.19.57

And these are only some possibilities.

In the free version Sutori allows you to add texts and images; if you upgrade, you can also embed videos, buncees, flipgrid and many more, you can add quizzes and also “did you know?” boxesScreen Shot 2018-01-18 at 19.22.55.

Working with Ukraine via Edmodo

After using Edmodo for so many years just to create and manage classes, now I have started taking advantage of the many opportunities it offers.

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Edmodo is also a really big community of teachers from all over the world and a couple of weeks ago a colleague from Ukraine posted a message in which he expressed his intention to put his students in touch with others from abroad. I replied his post and now we are working together in a friendly and collaborative way. We have called the project Our Cultures and Languages and the first aim is of course to help our students improve their level of English, but it is also very important for us to put them in touch with a culture which is somehow unknown to them.

Another important feature Edmodo offers is the connection with Google Drive so we could create a shared document and work together adding our ideas, comments and suggestions.

We created a group which all our students could join. I love Edmodo for its flexibility and the fact that you don’t need any sensitive information from your pupils: name, surname and that’s it. They join the different groups using the group code we teachers provide them with and they are in, ready to exchange notes,  do surveys,  turn in assignments and share their works.

All the students were then divided into groups and so, inside the main group, we created some small groups so to give the students the possibility to work only with the partners in the group. This avoids confusion and distraction and the kids can focus on their tasks.

As first step we both made a video in which the pupils introduce themselves. It was great fun for us and I must say that in the end we had much more material for the backstage video than for the real one!

Then my colleague shared a video about their town and school and we could analyse it and see the differences and similarities with our neighbourhood and the way we think of school. What my students noticed at once was that we don’t have any classes about drama or singing or dancing. They liked it very much.

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The second step was to find out some information about the partners. In the small groups the kids starting asking and replying questions so to have enough material to create a presentation about the Ukranian kids. They learnt about the sports they practise, the food they like and even some words from their language. They shared their works as an assignment.

It was nice to watch the presentations in the classroom and notice how others see us. My students loved it and it was also a good opportunity for class discussion.

I really love working on this project. It gives me the opportunity to use the language my students need to know in a very realistic way with such lovely and live material!

If you have not joined Edmodo yet, my advice is to do it ASAP!

Spotlight: Edmodo big gift!

I started using Edmodo almost nine years ago and now I could not work without using it. It allows me to create my virtual classes and so to stay in touch with my students and share links, files and any type of material with them. Thanks to Edmodo I can create quizzes and assignments which I use for my students’ formative assessment and I can also create polls in order to check, for example, if everything is going on fine.  screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-17-55-28

During these last years anyway, Edmodo has turned into something much bigger. It has become kind of educational social network where I can meet teachers from all over the world and share my ideas, worries and opinions about topics I am involved with.

But there’s more! Edmodo has given us Spotlight!

Spotlight is the place where teachers can upload their resources and share them with their colleagues. If they decide to do so, they can even sell them, but I think that’s not the main point. What is really great is the possibility to download the resources there, analyse them and use them with our classes. You can filter your research according to students’ age, school and subject and the quantity and above all the quality of the material you will be able to see is really remarkable.    edmodo-spotlight

But there is another aspect that I like and this is the most important for me, personally. I am always afraid that what I create is not good enough, is not precise or interesting. Spotlight has been kind of challenge for me. When I uploaded my first resource, I was quite tense but when I got the first reviews and realized that other teachers would use my work because they found it interesting and helpful for their job, I felt somehow stronger and more confident.

Spotlight is a treasure for me and it is encouraging to see so many great colleagues who work hard for their students and are willing to share and improve!

If you you want to learn more and find awesome resources, you must definetely give Spotlight a try!

HALLOWEEN!!!

This is an activity about Halloween which I have already done with my students and which they have always found interesting and fun.      halloween

It helps them develop their cultural awareness, their digital skills and their creativity, but also their presentation and language skills.

Students work in groups of four. One is from Austria, one is from France, one from China and one from Ireland. They use the link Halloween around the world and look for information. They have to find out how Halloween is celebrated in their country and get ready to tell their mates. They have to consider the games people play, the food they eat, the way they dress up, popular beliefs.

Then they compare the different celebrations and complete the following organizer:

HALLOWEEN

SIMILARITIES

DIFFERENCES

                   CHINA                              AUSTRIA                                  FRANCE                             IRELAND

Following activities:

Studens pretend they are journalists and have to write an article about how Halloween is celebrated around the world. They use all the information they have learnt  and write an article for a youth magazine. They can use pictures and clip arts to make it more attractive. When it is ready, they can post it on a padlet. here is an example of a padlet which was created for another Halloween activity  Halloween

Students use all the information they have learnt  and create either a presentation using prezi or an interactive picture  using thinglink.

The ThingLink Challenge #4

The challenge this week is about Thinglink Unplugged: capture learning on the go and it is extremely stimulating. You can use the Thinglink app even without Internet connection so you can take pictures in any moment, upload them as a base for a Thinglink and then work on them. I love scavenger hunts and my students are always excited when we do them in the classroom. I usually create QR codes for them to scan and then do a series of activities. This time I thought of using Thinglink to create one for an activity which will be done next school year during a field trip to Venice.I must thank Gert Lemmens, my teacher at the FCL in Brussels, for the idea because I just adapted an activity he made us do during the course.

When we go and visit Venice, we usually give the students some free time in St. Mark’s Square for lunch, for shopping or for what they prefer to do . Next time they will also have some tasks to accomplish, which I do hope they will find fun and interesting. Here they are

Thinglink is a really flexible tool which allows you to add not only pictures and texts but also google forms and documents. It can be used for projects, research work, analysis of poems or of pictures,  but also for fun,

At the FCL again :)

Yes, I did it again! I went to the FCL again for another course about  Interactive Technologies for the Future Classroom. My first experience is described here.

This time I learnt a lot and above all I had fun! Yes, real fun! Thanks above all to our teacher, Gert Lemmens so inspiring, motivating and challenging, and also to the other participants.

We created a lot of quizzes using   Socrative   Kahoot  Mentimeter    Quizizz

We used i3leanrhub   Prowise  to create nice and engaging activities  for the IWB and we created animated videos with Stop Motion; here my first try with the app done with two colleagues, one from Greece and one from Portugal,

 

 

And we did scavenger hunts using QR codes, which I really love!

The tasks our teacher  created for us were quite different, from singing Help while making a video of ourselves as evidence, to dancing, to creating a piece of news for a TV programme, just like this.  Yes of course you can laugh  🙂

To creating a video question ok, you can laugh here too!

My point is. I have learnt how to use new apps and web tools, I have learnt how to create challenging activities, I have worked in groups and I have solved quite a number of problems and, while doing all this, I had a lot of fun. I hope this is what I will remember when I go back to school: how much you can learn, how much you can develop your skills while having fun because school is serious even if it is not all grey and dull