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!

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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,

The Thinglink Challenge #2&3

The challenge of the second week was not that exciting, really, just using the functions of the tools: remix images, create channels, share stuff, but the task of the third week was really interesting!
We had to create a collaborative project for our students.

First of all I must confess I had never thought of Thinglink as a possible way to create and work on a project.
I have used it so many times with my classes but usually either as a presentation tool or as a way for students to do a simple research work, but now I have learnt much more.
Ok, my project is not that brilliant as the one Susan Oxnevad, our tutor, created as an example. Check it out, It is fabulous, isnt’ it?

http://thinglinkblog.com/2015/07/20/create-a-collaborative-student-project/#tl-e3ae201

Anyway I thought a lot about it and in the end I realized that the only thing to do was to choose something that can be easily done in the classroom and could be stimulating for a group of 15-year-olds.

I thought of a question which could help them be active and creative and I came up with this “What would you do to make your town more attractive for tourists?” and I went on from there.

Here is my first try with a project made with Thinglink

Verdun, World War 1 and SpeedTwinning…

From 11 to 13 April I attended the Multilateral Seminar eTwinning about History and Remembrance of the First World War.

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It took place in Verdun, a location which is also a symbol and which reminded me of the area where I come from: same connections to the Great War with the trenches, the tunnels and above all the victims. The small museum we visited in the Butte of Vauquoise is quite similar to the small museum which we can visit in San Martino del Carso and both are held by volunteers.

The Museum at San Martino del Carso and the Museum at the Butte de Vauquoise

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The aim of the seminar was to allow eTwinners to meet partners and set up a new project about the war. The method the organizers chose to make all this happen was quite peculiar: SpeedTwinning. Basically you had five minutes to contact a potential partner, illustrate your idea of a project, listen to their suggestions and then it was time to change partner and so on. I met 6 partners and came up with 6 ideas for a project. Since three of them were quite similar to what I had in mind, I decided that those three eTwinners would be my partners in a new project.

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We have planned some activities so to be ready to start next September. The title is Let’s Twin our War Memories and it has already been approved by our Agencies.

The seminar was mainly meant for new eTwinners. As a matter of fact some of the colleagues I met there had just registered on the platform so most of the meetings were about how to register, tips about how to create a successful project, how to use the TwinSpace and so on.

An interesting presentation was illustrated by Elizabeth Sauser-Monnig, from the French NSS while a French teacher, Solène Faupin very nicely explained what to do and what not to do during a project, if you want it to be successful.

 

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While I was looking at all the participants coping with all the tools of the TwinSpace and making a bit of confusion about the site and the TwinSpace, I was thinking of how eTwinning has developed in these almost ten years. I think I am lucky because I joined the platform at the very beginning, when eTwinning was “only” a site where you could contact colleagues from other European countries and there was just a forum and four chat rooms! Since I have been present throughout its whole development, it has never been difficult for me to feel confident in the site and to understand its changes. But for newbies it must not be that easy to wander among teachers’ rooms, groups, learning events and whatever eTwinning offers, all at one time.

I must say anyway that as usual when eTwinning is concerned, the enthusiasm of the participants makes it easy to overcome all difficulties.

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In the end, after visiting Verdun, tasting delicious French food, taking part in lectures about the three different moments in the writing of the war history – the political, the social and the cultural – and the way the memories of the war are dealt with in France and Germany, meeting new colleagues and starting a new project I can say that, despite some difficulties with the initial organization of the journey, I came back home once more enriched and revitalized by this new eTwinning experience.