Last December ,with a 2nd countrywide lockdown in place, each and every citizen had been quarantined within the four walls of their home, since mid-November. As teachers, it had become not only our duty but also our responsibility towards to our students to follow it diligently, as it is a much-needed step to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Spending most of their time indoors had increased the time my students spent with our family members. Ever since, this has reinstated the fact that it is only your family which is beside you through thick and thin. You have got once in a lifetime opportunity to spend so many days altogether with your family, and it is better to not waste them.
The most essential of all, being in a lockdown has made us realize the importance of the freedom we all had and the importance of the most precious gift of all, a gift that money can’t buy: family!
After all, there’s no point in suffering through a global crisis if we don’t learn something from it. “No challenge, no change,”
What I actually taught my students ,during our December webex lessons, was the importance of being present!
This is the summary of the main ideas we talked about ,during our online lessons.
“Want to know one Christmas gift that everyone will really love this year? Having your full, devoted attention at all your holiday gatherings.
This Christmas season, put in the extra effort and do your best to be fully present when around your family and friends. I promise you it will be much more enjoyable for everyone (including yourself).
Give the gift of your sincere, undivided attention. Listen, really listen, without thinking about how you’ll respond; listen with the intention to understand, because people need to be heard: sometimes that’s all they need.
Your sincere presence, your authenticity, is one of the best gifts you can give; your offering is to be with your nearest and dearest.
Let others know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Say, “thank you” and “I appreciate you” and “I love you.” It’s one of the greatest gifts.”
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
THE LESSON PLAN STEPS
I decided to use one of my favourite wordcloud web tools in order to have all my students to share their ideas about which gifts ” only you can give” !
Sharing my screen and my most favourite virtual whiteboard app, I presented them with the topic I wanted them to brainstorm about: Christmas gift ideas for kids.
The next step was to have them work in groups, using the webex breakout rooms feature, to discuss their ideas.
They had to share all those ideas with the whole class, afterwards.
Finally, I shared my own idea about which are the three best gifts we can give to others!
Time: People always say time is money, but it doesn’t have to be. Time is one of the biggest and inexpensive gifts you can give yourself and others. Giving yourself the gift of free time can truly help your perspective in life.
Love: The gift of love, shouldn’t really need much explanation. Unfortunately, many celebrated Christmas and New Year’s without their loved ones this year. We should never forget to tell those people we do care about, that we love them, tomorrow is never promised.
Attention:There’s no doubt, Christmas will always be associated with presents; however,we should never underestimate the importance of spending a little extra time with someone, loving others. Giving, is better than receiving. Some of the best gifts we can give, can’t be wrapped as they come from the heart.
One Dad, planning on working away for Christmas, takes his daughter’s letter for Santa with him to post. Unfortunately, he misses the ‘post boat’ and a series of mishaps means that he ultimately ends up delivering the letter to The North Pole himself.
He receives a lift home and is surprised by the contents of the letter when he gets there.
Few more teaching ideas you can also use, especially with older students
Discuss and share ideas for some gifts ‘only you can give’ this Christmas.
Write diary entries in role of the girl.
Create an inner monologue for the father.
Describe the epic journey and the sights he sees on his travels.
Recount the journey in the first person.
Informal letter -if you wish. I asked them to write their letters to Santa, asking for …GIFTS THEY CAN ONLY GIVE!
Our senses allow us to enjoy our food, the sound of music, the beauty of a sunny day, the softness of a child’s hair – in short, our lives! With the aid of the Internet, I realised that I can teach my students about the special gift of the senses and how they work, even during the lockdown!!
How it all started
It was during the second covid19 quarantine 2020, when I had to teach remotely, both synchronously and asynchronously ,when I just happened to have accidentally stumbled upon two great hidden internet apps ,that teachers and students definitely have to check out- not to mention everybody experiencing a lockdown.
Presentation of the two apps
Window Swap is an application born of people like us, who were trapped in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had to find a way out (in technology) so as not to lose their sanity.To me, it’s the perfect app so you can travel without moving;)
We go to window-swap.com, and click to see pictures or videos uploaded by other inmates, like us, from around the world! What you see is not live, they are shots uploaded by users, since the page was created, last spring.
Window Swap is the brainchild of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam, a couple living in Singapore who were quarantined there. They locked themselves in a house, and when they got bored of the view from their own window, they thought of seeing something else. And they started building a site to travel to other worlds, through windows !
Like Drive & Listen, an app that lets you travel to different parts of the world listening to local radio stations, Window Swap fills that gap by giving you a sneak peak in the window of a complete stranger, into a complete unknown country.
It has shots of places you may have dreamed of visiting, such as Australia, Chile, Japan. And invalid sites, from other worlds, like Albany in the USA. A meadow, with its pond, its labrados and everything, from a terrace that, logically, you will never see in your life, but now that you see it, you like it!
At the same time, a Facebook page was created, “View from my window”, for everyone to share the view from their windows, until travel restrictions end, wherever they are. Until today, dozens of posts are uploaded every day and descriptions, reactions, comments, etc. play from everywhere!
Without further ado, I decided to let it be comforting for my students,as well!
I loved the main idea: exactly in the phase that you are, that you do not fit in the place, that you are tired of seeing the same walls and the same view, whatever it is,a complete stranger, in Scotland, India, Canada is sharing the same view with you.
All you need is a desktop. You open the app and scroll to choose which city you want to drive. Tel Aviv; Mumbai; Havana;
Play! Suddenly you are in the exotic, long-suffering capital of Cuba, driving a ’55 Plymouth and listening to Toto’s “Africa”. You can change station and catch another frequency! Either you let it see where it will take you or if you want, you change city.
You can also choose how fast you want your vehicle to move, even if you want to hear the noise of the street, like a window opening or closing, the wind, the rain, people talking etc
Of course the shots you see from the streets are not live broadcasts, they are videos that have been uploaded to YouTube and have been connected to the app. But radio is real-time! And most of the shots are from car dashcams, so it’s like living in that moment and being at the wheel or in the driver’s seat, as you prefer.
It’s basically like a game. Tired of hearing the same things? You have a list of 50 cities around the world to choose from, where you want to travel. What should our friends in Moscow be hearing now? What are they chatting about, in Los Angeles? What do you get from a radio show in Buenos Aires other than the name Diegito?
And if you want a real break, from all and sundry,the list also includes a small town in Switzerland, the enchanting Lauterbrunnen, with about 2,000 inhabitants, in the canton of Bern -a very nice destination if you want to take the mountains, as soon as the border opens and get rid of COVID-19!
The creator of the app is Erkam Seker, a student from Istanbul who is studying in Munich – Computing, what else? When travel restrictions began in Germany, he began building this app on the Heroku platform, mainly because he felt nostalgic for his own city, that is, for personal use. As we started doing puzzles,renovations (or the rearrangement of furniture in the space, ok) to kill time and forget about the lockdown restrictions, this young man wrote code!
When he saw how relaxing it was for him to fool around with pictures from the driver’s seat and change radio stations around the world, he continued, hoping to give courage and inspiration to travelers who could not travel or to expatriates who could not return home! He started to connect his app with city streets, and at some point the Thessaloniki, GR radio stations went up ,last Spring …
You want music when you read, when you work, when you cook, and of course when you drive. But especially in the car, you have the feeling that you can enjoy music in a different way. So much so, that if your favorite song is playing, you will wait for it to end even if you have parked – yes, you are not alone: 7 out of 10 drivers will not get out of the car until one of their favorite songs is finished.
Just like the creators of these apps, when I saw how relaxing it was for me to fool around with pictures from open windows or the driver’s seat and change radio stations around the world, I decided to introduce the apps to my students and use them in my online lessons, hoping to give courage and inspiration to the ones who could not travel or leave their homes!
Here’s the padlet wall I created for my students to help them share their window or street descriptions, after they have used the two apps.
MIAMI, USA –
AARON AND JESSICA’S WINDOW
The rain sounds loud
The grass smells nice
The sky looks cloudy
The garden looks beautiful.
The food in the barbeque tastes delicious.
Teaching the Verbs of Senses, online
Start by writing the five senses across the top of your virtual white board (hearing, touch, smell, sight, taste) and ask your students to explain what each one is.
Now that they know the vocabulary for the senses themselves, list under each one ADJECTIVES that relate to that sense.
Ask your students to volunteer adjectives that they already know to go with the verbs. For example, under smell you might write nice, yummy, disgusting or other related words. Under sight, your students might volunteer the words beautiful, stunning, interesting, tiny.
Write down whatever words your students offer, and then add some more of your own.
Finally, ask your students to describe what they can see, hear,smell,touch, taste ,in the places they “visit” while you are using those two apps ,by sharing your screen. To me, this is the perfect speaking activity!
The teaching steps, in detail
1.The five senses (5 mins) • Introduce the five senses • Put students in groups in webex breakout rooms (WebEx breakout rooms is a video conferencing features that allows the host to separate larger video meetings and webinars into several smaller groups of a set number of participants.) and ask them to match the body parts with the correct sense • Check the answers as a whole class
2.Adjectives matching (10 mins) • This task introduces students to adjectives which can be used to talk about the five senses • Ask them to read the words in the diagram and decide what sense each adjective can be used with. There may be more than one possible answer. • When they have finished ask them to write one more adjective for each sense in the chat box, or have them use the webex annotate feature. • Check answers as a whole class and drill the words if necessary. Differentiation Stronger students can write more than one adjective for each sense
3. Listening (5 mins) • In this task, students watch the video and tick the senses they hear in their notebooks or write them in the chat. • Tell the students to check their answers in breakout rooms , first, if you wish. • Check the answers.
4.Discussion (5-10 mins) • In this activity, students have the chance to use some of the vocabulary they have learnt ,in a discussion about their own senses. • Put students in pairs or small groups-in breakout rooms- and ask them to discuss the questions. • Monitor and provide content-based feedback if students require it. • Share brief whole class feedback of interesting answers.
5.Writing (5-10 mins)
Now is the time for the students to write their descriptions . I ask my students to do this as homework.
Encourage them to use as much detail as possible . They can use the word “object” whenever they need to refer to what they are describing in their writing. Also, challenge them to use some of the vocabulary that you listed on the virtual board earlier. They should try to use variety in their word choice as well as give thorough descriptions, if possible. For young learners, a paragraph such as the one in the example above, is more than enough.
TEACHING Comparisons USING VIRTUAL TOURS
WE LOVE VIRTUAL TOURS, DON’T WE? GRAMMAR VIA TRAVELING SOUNDS LIKE FUN!
When I first run into this amazing app, I thought “Here’s a new virtual adventure for my students“!
First, I decided to ask them to visit a few amazing museums and special places, VIRTUALLY!
Then, I asked the students to write which museum or special place they liked visiting the most and why, using COMPARISONS.
ie My favourite museum is the LOUVRE Museum. The Louvre is not only one of the world’s largest art museums, but it’s also one of Paris’s most iconic historic monuments.
FOR A TOUR AROUND THE WHITE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON DC, CLICK HERE.
TO VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS, FRANCE, CLICK HERE.
TO BE ABLE TO VISIT AUSTRALIA AND WALK AROUND THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, CLICK HERE.
FOR THE GLOBE THEATRE, IN LONDON, CLICK HERE. Everyone, no matter where they are in the world, can now walk around Shakespeare’s Globe!
FOR THE LIST OF ALL THE MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS IN THE WORLD YOU CAN VISIT VIRTUALLY, CLICK HERE!
FORMING ADVERBS and COMPARISON OF ADVERBS
Another amazing web app which helped us virtually travel the World during the lockdown, while practicing our Grammar,is an app to fall in love with!
My favorite Facebook page “Geography is very cool” has shared an incredible site created, in fact, by a Greek, “Fly & listen”.
George Bakiris is a DJ and radio producer and was inspired to make something that will take us on a journey while listening to great music.
"Fly & listen" is exactly that you "fly" over a country of your choice, watching the sights through drone videos while you can select local radio stations.
All you have to do is select the country you want to enjoy on the right and then the radio station you want to listen to.
So you fly over Paris, Rome or Athens and listen to local music!
After my 6th graders had finished working on Comparisons in class, I asked them to visit our asynchronous class , click on the suggested link, travel virtually all over the world and then share their impressions and thoughts, using their Grammar on Comparisons-adjectives and Adverbs, in the classroom.
Here are some examples
The desert in Sudan Africa
the desert in Egypt
The drivers in New York, USA drive more quickly than the drivers in London, UK. Actually, I think they drive the most quicklyof all.
I saw a few kids in London, UK dancing on rollerblades happily.
I’ve heard that people in Japan work harder than people in Mexico .
I think that, the lorry driver I saw in France, Europe drive more carefully than the taxi driver I saw in Afghanistan ,Asia.
The drone flies faster than most birds. Airplanes fly the fastest of all.
I also asked them to complete sentences using adjectives, in exercises like the ones below:
Complete the sentences with the comparative form of the adjectives in brackets. Begin with the first words given: a. The Amazon River / the Mississippi River. (long) The Amazon river _________________________________________________________________ . b. India / Saudi Arabia (populated) India ______________________________________________________________________________ . c. New York / Los Angeles (large) New York _________________________________________________________________________ . d. Canada / Antarctica (cold) Antarctica ________________________________________________________________________ . e. Mount Everest / Mount Kilimanjaro (high) Mount Everest ____________________________________________________________________ . f. The Lake Baikal / Caspian Sea (deep) Lake Baikal ____________________
Complete with the superlative of the adjectives. Did you know that? a. Asia is the ___________ continent in the world? (large) (44,579,000 sq km) b. Africa is the continent with the _________________ counties? (many) (53) c. The Pacific Ocean is the _____________ ocean on Earth? (deep) (10,924 m) d. The Vatican is the ____________ country in the world? (small) (0.44 sq km) e. Luxembourg is the __________ country in the world? (rich) (GNP $45,360) f. Mozambique is the _____________ country in the world? (poor) (GNP $80) g. The Nile is the _______________________ river on Earth? (long) (6,825 km)
They were also asked to refer to the cities they had managed to visit virtually ,by sharing with the rest of the class sentences, like these ones:
In …………… city: There are (wide) streets in the world. Buses and cars are (fast) in the world. Shops in this town are___________ (interesting) in the world.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
STAY TUNED FOR FRESH INSPIRATIO,N COMING FROM MY MOST FAVORITE QUARANTINE WEB TOOL OF ALL:
OBSERVATION IS KEY TO PRODUCING STRONG WRITING AND SPEAKING.
IF OUR STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO OBSERVE THE WORLD AROUND THEM THEY WILL BE ABLE TO BETTER ELABORATE THEIR WRITING AND SPEAK ,EFFORTESSLY. IF THEY CAN BETTER ELABORATE THEIR WRITING AND SPEAK EFFORTESSLY , THEY WILL KEEP OUR ATTENTION AND MAKE THEIR AUDIENCE WANT TO READ MORE.
When this pandemic began, teachers all over the World were given little notice to shift very quickly to distance learning or e-learning, sometimes with no training. In many cases, we had 48 hours or a weekend to reinvent lessons for an already planned curriculum, learn new technologies, find non-technology solutions to student learning, and figure out how to keep students engaged. But all us etwinning teachers ,also had to balance home and work and how to do our life’s work from afar while simultaneously caring for students, grieving losses, and so many more challenges and obstacles!
For all those -mainly non-European -teachers who keep asking me about what etwinning is about: eTwinning is the community for schools in Europe.
I personally realised that there was only ONE thing that was still there for both me and my students, during the lockdown: etwinning!
eTwinning offers a platform for staff (teachers, head teachers, librarians, etc.), working in a school in one of the European countries involved, to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, share and, in short, feel and be part of the most exciting learning community in Europe. eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport.
eTwinning promotes school collaboration in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by providing support, tools and services for schools. eTwinning also offers opportunities for free and continuing online Professional Development for educators.
Launched in 2005 as the main action of the European Commission’s eLearning Programme, eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport, since 2014.
Its Central Support Service is operated by European Schoolnet, an international partnership of 34 European Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe. eTwinning is further supported at national level by 38 National Support Services.
The place where eTwinning magic really happens is the TwinSpace; a safe platform visible only to the teachers participating in a project. Students can also be invited in the TwinSpace to meet and collaborate with peers from their partner schools.
One of the most important elements of eTwinning is collaboration among teachers, students, schools, parents, and local authorities. In eTwinning teachers work together and organise activities for their students. They have an active role, interact, investigate, make decisions, respect each other and learn 21st century skills. eTwinning projects involve the contribution of each member of the team. Take inspiration and explore these awarded projects.
Finally, in eTwinning, our work is important and deserves to be shared and recognised locally, nationally and Europe-wide. eTwinning recognises the work carried out by teachers, students, and schools through National and European Quality Labels, eTwinning Awards, eTwinning Schools and the eTwinning Portfolio.
One of our school inspiring etwinning projects, this year, was a project about DEMOCRATIC VALUES.
About the project
This #eTw4Democracy project, provides an opportunity for students to make connections with students of other European partner schools, sharing and enhancing democratic values, at the same time. Our schools are microcosms of the communities in which they exist. They are the perfect environment for students not only to learn about civics and democratic values, but also to experience democracy in all aspects of school life cultivating the way the students become citizens. In a democratic school students and teachers should participate equally in the shaping of school life, thus realising their right to have a say on matters that affect them. The activities in this project aim to support students in promoting democratic values within their school communities ensuring that students understand their rights and responsibilities and have strategies for building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all.
The overall aim is to share school democratic values, with others! Children will recognize that their actions affect themselves but also others. Our “HanDS” project, provides the opportunity to break down classroom walls, too. It gives our students a chance to see a world outside of their walls and teach about Democracy, at the same time. Additionally, our aim is that, the concept of Europe will be understood and our students will become fully aware of the other European partner schools. Therefore, citizenship should become a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum. All in all,our aims are: To prepare students for their future role as citizens To provide students with opportunities for learning in a democratic environment To promote active participation and responsibility in the school environment To improve students’ communication, collaboration, decision- making and problem- solving skills
The tasks, will be set by all partner schools; the activities and work produced will be shared on twinspace by the schools, on a monthly basis and the work process will be communicated using the journal, on a weekly basis. Depending on the activity, pupils will have the opportunity to work independently or with talk partners and will have membership / access to twinspace to share and see the other school’s work and join in forums. Children will also have the opportunity to work in mixed ability groups in each school or in teams of pupils in different schools, sharing responsibilities. They will also have to work in teams, to think of ideas about collaborative projects and about the hand-print crafts, to fill the parcels that will be sent to the other schools, on different topics. Those parcels will have themes, such as:school life in the past, school life at present ,a day in a democratic school etc The project, works on two levels: sharing on twinspace and parcel exchanges, by post.
Children will learn about civics and democratic values, but also experience democracy in all aspects of school life,through their dialogue, written work and the parcels that they will send and receive! Children will also practice writing and communicating in English and children in all countries will familiarize themselves with aspects of each other’s school life, promoting democratic values within their school communities.
Our project, helps us to widen our horizons, reconsider our perspectives, improve self-esteem, increase understanding of different cultures and values , enhance democracy in the school environment and prove that “communication is at the basis of understanding others”.The process is always constantly about learning to learn collaboratively, building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all. The pupils are expected to be inspired and motivated and participate equally in the shaping of school life .
Schools ,all over the World, have made many changes to keep students and teachers safe during the school year, and class Halloween celebrations have seen changes too.
All teachers, have to follow social distancing and other COVID protocols, every day.
Halloween was very different , in my classes,this year,as well.
With social distancing in place , many of the games and activities we love doing at Halloween were simply not possible this year.
As such, it has been quite difficult for me as a teacher ,to come up with fun Halloween games to do while safely social distancing.
Keep Your Distance
Ηere’s my list of fun social distancing Halloween games and activities that our students can safely do while keeping their distance from others. They worked in my class. I do hope, they will work in yours, as well.
What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its FUN element, I guess!
Therefore, I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class this weird year.
I attempted to teach my students Halloween themed lessons, and to elicit some excitement from them, following the protocols. I feel that we, at least, paid Halloween a pretty good tribute, against all odds.
A few of my favourite non-contact Halloween active gamesand activities
The first day I started thinking about how to teach about Halloween safely, for both my students and me, I ran into this highly inspiring English Teacher’s video, on Facebook! I decided to give it a try and see if it worked with my very young learners ! Guess what: it did!! We just loved it!
If you’re looking for a spooky activity to do with your students this HalloweenHere’s an idea…Make your own Mini Puppet Theatre (out of a cereal box) and sing-along with 6 monster stick puppets. Watch the video to know more!
Another great game I ran into and decided to use in my classes ,both synchronously and asynchronously, is this one, below. I found even more social distancing teaching ideas for Halloween party games to try with my classes, in this amazing site.
Draw A Monster Game
That was a great game to play at Halloween while social distancing. In that game, the kids drew a monster.
To play, I asked each student to grab a piece of paper and something to draw with and then played the video. In the video, the students read a description of a monster. After reading the description, they tried to draw what they thought the monster looked like based on that description.
Once students finished their drawing, I/they played the video to see what the monster looked like.
My students, really loved this kind of activity, especially when their monster drawings looked very similar to the monster in the video. I asked them to work on this video at home, using our asynchronous e-me hive platform but you can follow the same steps, in a school class.
This activity can be easily done at Halloween while social distancing as the students can stay in their seats while they draw their monster, and do not need to be close to or share resources with others.
This next social distancing Halloween game is a Halloween themed BINGO game.
To play, the students were asked to create a Halloween vocabulary Bingo card, in their notebooks, using any 9 Halloween vocabualry words/pictures they wished.
Next, I called out one of the Halloween words, in our vocabulary list, for example ‘ghost’. Then, the students should check their bingo card. If the ghost word/picture is on their card, then they had to cross that Halloween word/picture out.
Then, I called out another Halloween word and again students should check if that word was in their card and if it was, they should cross it out, again. The first student who crossed out all their Halloween words/pictures, was the winner.
Halloween Costume Fashion Show
This social distancing Halloween activity idea is a great way to let kids strut their stuff and show off their fun and scary Halloween costumes.
I always set up an area to be your ‘Halloween catwalk’ and then invite students one by one to walk down the catwalk and show off their great Halloween costumes.
This year, I did that with my 4th graders ,after I had sent them a Halloween vocabulary quizlet and thesetwo relevant songs/videos, in our asynchronous class, first!
I also asked them to visit this , as well as that Thinglink walls , before they decided about what to dress up ,in our school classroom.
To make it feel even more like a fashion show, I snapped some pictures of them in their costumes and shared them with the students’ parents, in our asynchronous class!
Halloween Word Search
I am sure that we all have used word search worksheets ,to get our kids familiar with some Halloween vocabulary. But this online Halloween activity also has the added benefit of being perfectly safe to do while keeping a safe distance from others.
Another cool web tool , which I personally used to create my own word search activities was Liveworksheets. A free teaching web tool, you will love!
Halloween Charades Game
With a little preparation, this classic party game can be turned into a safe social distancing Halloween game.
If you’re not familiar with charades, in this game one person would choose a card -or to make sure this Halloween game can be played while safely social distancing,the teacher shows him/her a card- and then try to act out what is on the card without using any words or sounds.
To make it into a Halloween game, I simply used cards with Halloween related things on them. For example,I wrote/drew Halloween words (ghost, witch, broomstick, etc), Halloween songs (The Monster Mash, etc) or Halloween Movies (Night of The Living Dead, etc). It’s diffrent ,for each different age/level we teach.
I ensured the student acting out the word and the students guessing the word were all at a safe distance.
Usually, these quizzes would be played in pairs or small teams, but seen as that is not possible while social distancing, these quizzes can be played individually, both at home asynchronously ,or in class, using a projector and working in teams.
I personally create my own quizzes, such as this one, on a favourite web tool which is similar to Kahoot, called Quizziz.
Students, love it!
I thought that, this classic classroom game could be easily adapted so my students could play while social distancing.
This time, I decided to use my Halloween flashcards, to play this game.
I asked one student to come to front of the class and stand / sit at a safe distance from other students. Then standing behind the student I showed the rest of the class a flashcard.
Next, the students tried to describe the word on the flashcard without saying the word, and the student at the front of the class should guess what it was. Super fun!
We played apple bobbing and dangling donuts
Apple bobbing – I gave each student their own apple in their own bowl of water, or asked them to hold their own apple tied onto a string and challenged them to take a bite without touching it.I made it a race and gave the winner a prize.
Dangling donuts – Each student held their own donut tied onto a string. They took it in turns to dangle a donut for each other. The challenge was to eat it with no hands, as fast as possible.
Detail 1: there was spooky music playing ,in the background!
Detail 2: My students ,had to watch a couple of videos similar to this one, in our asynchronous class, when at home, before they attended our school class.
In our asynchronous “e-me hive“, my students had the chance to watch several videos, such as this one, or this one, follow the directions there and make their favourite crafts and decorations to bring back to class, the following day.
I decided to ask my amazing 4th graders to watch a video with instructions about how to make paper ghosts using their footprints, at home, and make them ,either themselves or with their parents’ help. Then, they were asked to write about them and decorate their classroom bulletin board with them, after they had presented them in class, of course! Cute!
Let’s make spooky food
What better time to indulge in some jaw-droppingly tasty sweets, than Halloween time?
First, I posted a few delicious Halloween treats ideas, to our asynchronous class and asked my students to watch and prepare their favourite treats, bring them to school and share them, in our Halloween party ! Yummy!
A pumpkin carving contest
I suggest that you treat everyone in the class to their very own pumpkin and see who can come up with the best design. Ι have come to the conclusion that a safe way to get little kids involved is to post a video with instructions in an asynchronous teaching platform and tell them to ask their parents to do the cutting for them, first. Then let them scoop out the insides with a spoon. This how to carve a pumpkin beginners’ guide is a great place to start. This is where we started, in our school classroom.
Another nice video, which I posted in our asynchronous hive, to help my older students curve their pumpkins at home, was this one. For my younger learners, I used this video.
I hope, you will like them as much as we did!
Have a ‘scary’ movie night, at home-or a scary movie…. day, at school
At first, I told them that, during Halloween nights, the people who celebrate it take some tasty Halloween treats and wear their Halloween costumes or some cool Halloween PJs like these glow-in-the-dark skeleton ones.
Then, I asked them to watch the short film extracts ,which I had created, using one of my most favourite web teaching tools: edpuzzle, asynchronously, together with their families.
I even offered them a choice of several other Halloween themed movies, to watch at home, using Quizlet.
Make a spooky music playlist
From Michael Jackson’s Thriller to the Ghostbusters theme tune, I decided to have lots of class fun compiling a spooky playlist to listen to, together with my students. I thought it was safe, to post the lyrics to our asynchronous class first and later,with the use of a projector, have a Halloween karaoke competition, in the school classroom ! It was so much fun! Although, it didn’t last long ,since our teaching hours last only about 40 minutes ! My students were given the opportunity to sing the songs again and again, at home, too, thanks, to our asynchronous class platform posts.
For my very young learners, I did the very same thing , using their favourite Halloween songs, such as this one , this one or even this one!
We all danced and sang happily- in safe distances, of course!
You don’t have to read a book on the page to write a story report. This Halloween, instead of having my students listen to an audiobook or story, I decided to have my wicked witch puppet, Amelia present herself to the class!
It was an active listening activity, using puppetry! I asked them to keep notes, while listening.
Then I had them write a story report based on what they heard, or give a summary of the story to our asynchronous class, in a padlet presentation.
I’ve always loved all kinds of boxes! I love using and reusing them and teaching my students about how to do the same, using their imagination and creativity! There are great ways to use cardboard boxes in the ESL classroom and here are just a few, to get the idea.
Why Work With Cardboard?
It is SUPREME.
It is (in most cases) free.
It appeals to the environmentally-conscious, pro-recycling parts of our human nature.
It is disposable – toss it back into the recycling bin when you’re done teaching/playing.
Cardboard Box Houses
Why not make this easy cardboard house, with your class,too? You can watch online videos ,follow the simple step-by-step instructions and help your students decorate their houses. With the help of some small dolls,furniture or action figures, have them act out scenes from a course book story or a tale you’ve read them, for role plays with a twist! You can even teach Grammar , ie the prepositions of place, by having the students move the pieces of toy furniture around the rooms or teach/revise vocabulary, ie colours, parts of the house etc
Dioramas to Die for!
Dioramas are perfect for capturing a scene from a story – and cardboard boxes are the ideal material for our class diorama. Simply cut out a rectangle from one of the sides of the box, like a window. Then have your class assist you in recreating a scene from a story or book you’ve read.And don’t forget holiday dioramas: from the first Thanksgiving to a spooky graveyard filled with monsters for Halloween, the possibilities are endless!
Want to practice asking for and giving directions? How about using a miniature landscape instead of an old, boring, flat map or picture ? Use small cardboard boxes of different sizes, like small cereal or cookie boxes. Have your students create a landscape out of each.The students can make the landscape as detailed as they want .Use action figures to move around and ask for directions. In this last school year’s photo, my creative students created a four Seasons landscape and used it while reciting a poem they had written, about the four Seasons!
Set up a Vocabulary Box ,in a corner of the room! Each time a student asks about a word he or she does not understand, go through the following steps:
Write-or have the students write- the word at the top of an index card, the definition (for your older students) or a drawing ( for your younger learners) below that and finally, an example of the word used in a sentence, if you wish.
Put the card in the Vocabulary Box.
At the end of the week/month (or school year) depending on the number of words accumulated, you can open the box and see how many of the words they still remember, how many they’ve forgotten or not used at all since that day in class, by playing fun vocabulary games. The day I took this photo, we played a Treasure Hunt Game, using the words in the box.
Have each of your students write a letter to a classmate or you,the teacher. I always do so, at the beginning and the end of each school year . They get so excited when they receive their reply letters! Then, you can be the postman/woman and deliver them or have another student act as postman/woman. I also use the mailbox for homework assignments or special occasions such as Christmas, where students get the chance to write to Santa. Watch this tutorial to make an alternative mailbox to mine, in the photos.
For a fun class role play activity, first have your students create an action figure or any other craft of their choice, out of a cardboard box .When they’re all done, students take turns acting out different role plays, using them! An the end of each school year, you can organise yearly “Art Exhibitions” with all the students’ crafts! Art exhibitions ,offer students a chance to display their work for parents, siblings and classmates.
A cardboard box can easily be turned into a fun puppet theater, for all our class ELT puppet , finger puppet or even shadow theatre plays.
Here are the instructions about how to make your own shadow puppet theatre.
Class Theatre Hats
I create class theatre props and crowns/hats from cardboard, throughout the school year. The last time I did so, was for the needs of our end-of-the-school-year adaptation of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” .
Not only are these hats adorable, but very sturdy. After they are constructed you can let the children decorate them with stickers and/or paint.
Playing with a Dice
I love using Dice Games to practice vocabulary, in my class! I made my first class dice , a couple of years ago and have been using all the activities in this post, since then .
My students love the Dice Games and ask for them, all the time!
This is an awesome guessing activity! The “Mystery Box” is a type of prediction game that you can create with simple items that you have in class.
Find a box, such as a shoe box, or any other kind of container which kids can’t see through, such as a cookie tin. Introduce the empty box or tin and discuss how the mystery box game will be played. Outside of the children’s view, place an item inside the box or tin. Ask the children to predict what is inside. If you want, you can let the children hold the box, to see how heavy it is or if it makes any noise bouncing around the box or tin.
Give the children one clue as to what is inside the box. For instance, if you have a teddy bear inside, you can say, “It’s soft.” After the first clue is given, ask the children to guess what might be inside. Repeat the process by giving a second clue, such as, “It’s brown” and then ask the children to guess again.
They have to guess, by using different modals such as “it must be..”, ” it can’t be..”, “it may be..” etc
All the students who guess right, are given special stickers! If only one student guesses right , she/he is given the item in the mystery box, to take home , as a present.
After showing the kids how to play the game, I ask the children to bring their own mystery boxes from home, the next day, with an item inside the box for their classmates to guess what it is.
Last school year, we used boxes in our etwinning European project, with huge success!
What the four partners ( Greece, UK, France and Poland) decided to do was that, students produced a presentation or “Culture and Smiles in a Box” on their partner country in groups, both in class and on twinspace Forums. To be able to do this, students gathered information about their own country and life and mailed it to their partner schools, in Cubes-boxes .Their partners, were responsible for producing the presentation on their partner country’s cultural assets on twinspace Forums .
My students felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner schools in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to fill their CUbeS with content.
The Activity Box -for early finishers
For my early finishers, especially when writing tests, I use a special box!
A box, filled with activities and items of my choice, such as books, magazines, board games, toys, postcards, etc The box also contains small sets of task cards.
The box can be placed on an easily accessible shelf in the classroom or on the teacher’s desk.When students’ regular classwork/test is complete, they can take one item at a time, either to their seat so as not to distract other students who are working, and get a quiet moment to relax. They use the materials in the box to practice their English, too. And instead of being just “busy,” students are engaged in creative, complex tasks.Kinesthetic learners, spatial learners, and logical learners ,all love exploring the different possibilities for the box materials as they try to spend their time ,the fun way!
Even better? The prep and management on the teacher’s part is minimal!
The story telling box
Using a magic box when we do story telling with our very young learners, is so much fun! I ,personally, love it!
A good example of how to do so, can be found in this Blog post, written by my friend Margarita Kosior.
Margarita ,is an amazing educator from Thessaloniki! I truly admire her work with storytelling !
I am so grateful that she accepted my invitation, to share one of her stories, in my Blog, a couple of years ago! Actually, she has been my inspiration to try similar activities with my junior classes and I wholeheartedly thank her, for that!
The routine, is opening the Magic Box which hides different treasures every time, usually flashcards or realia which appear later in the story.
In case of “Henry Hippo”, she created head bands with the four protagonists in advance and she placed them in the Magic Box. With the use of a magic star and on the sound of the magic words, the Magic Box opens.
Every time the group shout: “Magic Box, open!”, one headband/item is taken out.
I have used the ‘Identity Box’ activity since I was introduced to it, at Pilgrims ,by my amazing “Teaching Difficult Learners” course teacher trainers Mike Shreeve and Phil Dexter , two years ago. It is a way to introduce my students to each other (and to me!). I assign it as homework, on the first day and give students 2-3 days to complete it. Alternatively, students could do the project in school and bring in old newspapers and magazines ,in order to decorate their boxes.
Pictures (personal, magazine, etc)
Shoe Box (or box of any kind)
On the outside of the box, all students decorate with images of how they feel others see them OR how they see themselves.
On the inside of the box, older students, decorate with images of how they feel on the inside, what best describes their identity.
Sharing the boxes on the last day of the first week of school is a fun way to conclude this exciting week.
I have also included an optional “All about me on a Box” writing activity extension.
*For those of you interested in reading about the original idea ,which actually doesn’t have anything to do with children, please, have a look here.
When it comes to fun ESL activities, why not think outside the box, or rather in this case inside it?
Why not capitalize on our innate fascination with boxes and the opportunities they hold?
The Tournament, was filled with debating, acting, oral interpretations, impromptus, and a lot of excitement.
During the tournament, our School’s Forensics team presented their skills in the event:
Oral Interpretation of Literature
To be able to take part in the Tournament, our students learned and practiced the art and skills of competitive forensics .The preparation, lasted about two months. First, they participated in the research and presentation of the material for oral interpretation of literature.
The first week, included a close study of public speaking and oral interpretation, and little information about debate.
All six students in our team,were required to participate in a forensics tournament preparation class, held outside the regularly scheduled class time. Our team met twice a week, for one hour each time.
My students benefited from peer feedback in that they were able to teach others about the tournament rules and provided feedback that they would consider relevant. In seeing that their peer feedback was relevant, students were more engaged and invested in working to complete the task successfully. Peer feedback also gave my students an opportunity to have their voices heard, and to listen to each other. It is often easier for us to understand concepts from people who are similar in age as we are.
Our selections were from a short story, and four novels.Our selections incorporated a mix of monologues, dialogues and narrative . Our emphasis was placed on the prose aspect of the performance and not the dramatic qualities of the performance.
In general, the objective of a Forensics Lab and Tournament is to enable the participating students to work together and to exchange views on issues of concern to their age, and even, more general social issues and to tell beautiful stories. Also to cultivate their critical thinking, help them to become familiar within the conditions of healthy and democratic dialogue and ultimately, help them to improve their language proficiency in English. During the tournament,both teachers and parents had the opportunity to enjoy the result of the effort of all students ,which was in a high level.
One, will be surprised to find out that a Forensics Tournament, is primarily a question of listening skills.Active listening is what feeds the brain with the necessary information to manage all issues and make all kinds of decisions.At second reading, the the students’ engagement with all areas of concern to human activity and their analysis, empowers them with critical thinking skills which-in these difficult times – are the most important skills for survival.
Finally, the ability of young people to express themselves comprehensively and with clarity, on the issues that concern them, will be valuable, both in their intimate relationships and in the professional arena, in their adult life ,too.
HISTORY OF FORENSICS
In the early 1970’s, teachers of English from Anatolia College, Athens College (now known as the Hellenic American Educational Foundation), and Pinewood International Schools united to form the Forensics Society to give students from different schools the opportunity to meet to have discussions, make speeches and generally improve their speaking skills in English.
Within a very short period thereafter, this ‘society’ grew to include another four schools: the American Community Schools (ACS), the Cairo American College, Campion School, and Pierce College (now PIERCE – The American College of Greece). Since that time, an additional nine schools have joined. These schools included the American School of Kuwait, Ekpedeftiki Anagenissi, Byron College, Costeas-Geitonas School, Geitonas School, Mantoulides Schools, The Moraitis School, St. Catherine’s British School, and St. Lawrence College.
There were two tournaments a year: The fall tournament was held in Athens and the spring tournament was held in Thessaloniki. In some tournaments there were up to sixteen schools participating in the various events. Students originally participated in Debate, Comic and Dramatic Oral Interpretation, Comic and Dramatic Duet Acting, Impromptu Speaking, Original Oratory, and Extemporaneous Speaking. Eventually, however, Extemporaneous Speaking was dropped from the competition due to the ‘controversial’ nature of the current events at the time, and Group Discussion was added. In the 1980s, because of the increase in the number of contestants and the demands on both students and advisors, it was unanimously decided by the coaches of the schools that the tournaments be limited to one annually, alternating between Athens and Thessaloniki each year. The tournament came to be called the Panhellenic Forensics Tournament. The number of contestants in any given tournament has approached 400 in the past few years.
In 2004, another change took place: The society became an official association and is now known as the Panhellenic Forensics Association. The Executive Board of the Association meets regularly and all schools participating in the tournament are members of the Association.
Learning the Basics of Oral Interpretation
Oral Interpretation is the process by which words are pulled from the page and given dimension in a reader’s voice and body. Practitioners of oral interpretation bring stories to life, serving as a vehicle for the messages of the text. Some scholars argue that readers should unlock the meanings intended by the author (the vehicle should be empty) while others believe the meanings of texts inevitably transform as they filter through a reader’s voice, body, experiences, and culture (the vehicle is full of your stuff). Both ends of this dialectic are true: 1) readers should aim to honor the integrity of a text, using logic, analysis and research to investigate the concreteness and completeness literary text, and 2) readers should embrace the creative and artistic ways they effect how texts are understood, adapted, embodied, and delivered to an audience.
In order to stimulate learning and to motivate reading books , lots of teachers use rewards for students.
Research confirms that student motivation is a key factor in successful reading. However, in order to effectively support reading motivation in the classroom, it is helpful to consider the research on reading motivation and engagement.
Academic achievements are important to recognize. Recognizing the achievements that they have made in each area with curricular awards is a great way to foster confidence and promote good study habits.
Even our bookworms need a bit of encouragement
We all know that, some kids are just into it from the beginning and others need a bit of encouragement. To me, if we have a reluctant reader on our hands, special reading rewards are a fun and colourful way to make the idea of reading more engaging.
They are a way to track their progress. When they see how much they are achieving- as the bookworm reaches its full length- our students will ,hopefully, become more motivated to sit down with a good book. Before we know it, they’ll be hooked on reading (well that’s the plan anyway).
It could be that the real value of reading-related rewards is that both the desired behavior (reading) and the reward (small gifts etc ) define a classroom culture that supports and nurtures the intrinsic motivation to read.
A few reading motivation ideas
Honoring books for self-selection, sharing the excitement of read-alouds, building a balanced book collection, making their passions public and providing rewards that demonstrate the value of reading are just a few simple but transformative suggestions that can nurture the love of reading in our classrooms!
Our English library
Our school library is actually, a book case filled with books which have been categorised according to student level. This means that a student at an intermediate level will be able to select from a -limited, so far- range of books (novels) very clearly for his/her level without having to wade through books and reading the back cover or the first couple of pages to see if the book is going to be written in language that is too easy or too difficult for them.
In addition, it means students are able to read English books without having to pay for them. This may be especially important for students who are on a budget, or those who don’t really like reading and would be less motivated to read if they had to go out and find a book in English and then pay for it.
It also means, with a more restricted number of options available to choose from because they are divided into levels, students may end up choosing something to read they would not normally choose, even in their own language. And who knows, it might be the start of a whole new interest for a student.
In our English class, our bookworms , receive their rewards ,three times a year: at the end of each semester and at the end of the school year! Their names are published on the school site.
The rewards, usually consist of items like: bookmarks, educational toys, office supplies, balloons, lollipops etc
But, we should be careful: our students shouldn’t get addicted to rewards. They have to work because of an intrinsic motivation. As students achieve success in your class, they can learn to be motivated by their own achievements.
I really look forward to seeing a bigger number of my students take advantage of the school English library to improve their English language skills in any way possible, next school year!
Last year, we got motivated by theGuinness Book of Records, while teaching the Comparisons so ,we decided to look for our own class record holders and award them, accordingly!
This incredible “class record holders idea”, brought English to life in a fun, yet impactful way.
Through engaging my English language learners in an exploration of class records, helped me support their growth in vocabulary, oral conversation, and written expression. Students had a chance to complete their world record scavenger hunt, working in groups and creating their own awards.
First, I made a few copies of the Guinness Book of World Records available to my students to peruse.
I asked them what their impressions were.
Talking about world records is an opportune time, to review comparisons, of course .
I gave my students a chance to practice, using superlative adjectives, by making superlative statements about the students in our class using the list of adjectives I had already generated. Again, I gave them a chance to share with the class.
After my students had had some time to become familiar with the book and Grammar points, I asked them why they thought those people were able to set those records. Was it because of a special skill? Was it luck? Were any of the records simple trickery? Was it effort and hard work? On the board, I wrote the words talent, skill, trick , effort and luck. Students discussed in small groups which of these five qualities was most important. Then, I had each group present to the class what they had agreed was most important or where their opinions differed.
As a final activity , I had my students each choose one other student, who held a class record .
Then, I had my students partner and role-play an interview that they had written in pairs, in front of the class – one student asking the questions as the class reporter and another pretending to be the record holder and answering the questions.
Whether you have a class full of future record holders or not, your students are sure to find the information presented in the Guinness Book of World Records fascinating, especially if they have never actually looked inside its pages.
While our students are imagining their record placements, they will be practicing their language skills and becoming better students of English without even knowing it.
My non European colleagues, often ask me what eTwinning is all about!
eTwinning is a free online community for schools in Europe which allows you to find partners and collaborate on projects within a secure network and platform.
Through participating in eTwinning, your school will be able to:
enrich learning and motivation of pupils (aged between 3 and 19) and staff
access high quality professional development and ready-made resources
raise standards across the whole school community
gain recognition for your commitment through eTwinning awards and the International School Award.
Search for an Erasmus+ partner to carry out projects with and apply for mobility funding.
There are, also, special quality labels, for students, teachers and schools!
1.National quality label
A National Quality Label is awarded to teachers with excellent eTwinning projects and indicate that the project has reached a certain level of quality in their country.
2. European quality label
The European Quality Label is a second mark of success and indicates that the project has reached a certain European standard.
3. eTwinning School label
In order to recognise the eTwinning work done at school level, there is now, a new label available – the eTwinning School Label.
The concept of recognition for work done in eTwinning has been in existence since the start with Quality Labels being available to teachers for their projects both at national and European level. However, these labels are applied only to the work of individual teachers in projects. In order to recognise the work done at school level, a new label is now available to apply for – the eTwinning School Label.
The principle behind this new label is that eTwinning wants to recognise and appraise the involvement, commitment, dedication not only of scattered eTwinners, but of teams of teachers and school leaders within the same school.
The concept of attaining the status of an eTwinning School is that of a developmental journey with components that can be objectively assessed. It is not a competition, but rather a progression from one level to the next.
A summary of our project, this year
Our project celebrates culture and happiness.
What the four partners ( Greece, UK, France and Poland) propose is that, students produce a presentation or “Culture and Smiles in a Box” on their partner country in groups, both in class and on twinspace Forums. To be able to do this, students gather information about their own country and life and send it to their partner schools, which are responsible for producing the presentation on their partner country’s cultural assets on twinspace Forums .
– Consider the definition of culture, and reflect on what this means to them
– Share relevant information about their lives with their European partners
– Create”Culture and Smiles in a Box” presentations
– Reflect on what they have learned about the other country and the differences and similarities between the two cultures
– Write reflective essays on what they have learned
1) To help pupils to identify, explore, and become aware of European values.
2) To raise pupils’ awareness of what makes them happy and share this happiness with their peers in Europe.
3) To assist pupils to identify European linguistic diversity and become aware of the importance of learning European languages.
4) To develop pupils’ insight into the similarities and differences among nations.
Our project in detail
This #eTwForCulture project ,lasted the whole school year 2018-19.
There were tasks to be completed to share SMILES in many ways such as passing a ‘messages and our CULTURE in a box’ from one country to the other.
This is a project on happiness; it is about helping students find happiness and sharing it with others. It focused on ourselves, well-being, friendships and relationships. Children have truly enjoyed communicating and participating in a variety of tasks and realising that they have many things in common with their e-pals. Pupils have learnt about the culture of their e-pals / friends (tangible and intangible). It was definitely a project celebrating internationalism and individualism.
Depending on the activity, children had the opportunity to work independently, with talk partners both in class- in 2s, in small mixed ability groups or in whole class situations and on twinspace, using ICT for research or to communicate and present their ideas in different ways.
Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity
The overall aim was to realize that, happiness comes from within us but can be spread and shared with others!
Children reflected on themselves as individuals, identifying positive things about themselves, valuing their abilities, qualities, strengths and achievements as well as their mistakes, sharing and comparing them with their European peers, at the same time!
Children recognized that their culture affected themselves but also others; they thought of ways to make others smile, by means of intercultural projects !
Children considered their own and their partners’ feelings (empathy) and thought of appropriate strategies to cope with uncomfortable feelings as well as skills for solving problems and different ways of behaving to different types of intercultural relationships.
Children also focused on intercultural relationships and they explored the value of these relationships as well as their feelings within the context of important relationships, including family and friends of a different cultural background.
Children made each other smile through their dialogue, written work and through technology!
All in all:
Children felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner schools in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to fill their CUbeS with content.
The learning from the project was so significant that it will not be lost from children’s minds
Our project, provided the opportunity to break down classroom walls. Happiness in learning, became a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.
Our work provided in the shared learning environment were a meaningful pathway, towards understanding the concept of feelings.
The true revelation has been that people in Europe are essentially very similar with shared values, cultures and interests. Surely, this helped us to overcome our prejudices and made us more open to intercultural cooperation.
The work was mostly linked with the English, MFL, Topic and Computing objectives. To help partner schools to fulfill their statutory responsibility to support their cultural development and prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life. To use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information.
The theme was chosen deliberately to ensure that the project and its work was as cross-curricular as possible. The areas of ,EFL, social studies, expressive arts, citizenship,and basic IT , have all been integrated into the sharing of our common project activities .
The main focus was to improve the learning of English.
This fitted well into the Curriculum and all the pupils benefited.
We held a European Day of Languages to get the rest of the school know our European friends better. We also had etwinning school days, when our students presented their etwinning projects to the rest of the school.
A second focus was citizenship. By exchanging information about each other’s towns, lives and heritage, the pupils learned a great deal about each other’s environment, way of life and culture. Our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our Etwinning project theme!
I made sure that, ALL my 95 students, in different age and language level, took part in our etwinning project.
Communication and exchange between partner schools
We used a variety of ways to communicate with each other and as a group: the teacher bulletin in twinspace, a messenger group, email. Communication was regular and effective.
The tasks were mostly set by the coordinating schools in the United Kingdom and Greece but we were open to suggestions and ideas of the fellow teachers. The activities and work produced was shared in pages of twinspace by all schools and the work process was communicated using the journal. I coordinated the work but also set responsibilities and supported teachers in using a variety of ICT tools so that they successfully participate in the project.
From the beginning, there was a strong plan on twinspace Pages, which gave the teachers guidelines, responsibilities and timescale for each element of the project.
Students were encouraged to interact with their partners,and share their work on twinspace,both from the school ICT lab and from home. This all gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language.
Our students were able to share their feedback on our Twinspace “DiscussionsForums Threads” , on a regular basis . The pupils shared information and experiences, and thus learned from each other and strengthened their communication skills.
Collaboration between partner schools.
In collaboration ,we all decided on the range of topics that we would cover and the optimum time for posting/sending/receiving the correspondence items.
We tried together to do some pre-matching of pupils and classes , based on their known interests.
By all means we ‘recycled’ language that pupils have previously learnt in their English class .
We created a teachers’ e-mail exchange, too and a frequent collaboration on the Teachers’ bulletin.
We created our 6 CUbeS threads on Forums , which we often updated with the help of our students.
Teachers and children participated and collaborated in monthly activities such as: they uploaded posts in padlets, liked and commented on other posts, worked together to produce web presentations to introduce the schools , towns and countries ( taking-drawing pictures, writing the scripts and deciding on the school areas/town sights/country favourite places to present) and to share customs and traditions on collaborative web tools, they participated in a drawing logo competition and explained their reasons in a forum, expressed what they have learnt in forums, shared playtime games and healthy recipes, made, posted and received cards, little gifts and beautiful origami crafts , which made them smile, shared well being strategies. They have enjoyed their twinspace membership, participated in all the activities, emailed their e-pals and expressed their views in forums – and they even suggested their own questions to be added in the forums – and joined in live chats, supervised by teachers! Children have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the project and have majorly contributed to its success.
Use of technology
Children had the opportunity to use ICT to communicate and present findings in a variety of ways.
All children had Twinspace membership and emailed their epals; however, before using the email feature, we had lessons and discussions on the appropriate use of email, what information to include to be safe and respect each other while considering cultural differences. Children expressed their views in forums ,supervised by teachers!
The project linked with aims / objectives of the ICT / computing curriculum. Pupils were taught to select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design content that would accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information. They created work for a specific audience making sure that the content would be interesting but at the same time reliable. Children were also taught how to use technology safely.
Specifically: I had small groups of my students,to use Photoshop to enhance and crop photos and then put them into Movie Maker to produce our videos and also had them create a Quiz on pages. We also used Movie Maker to make short videos, Padlet to work on collaboratively, and a Word Cloud Generator,for feedback. We also used other collaborative web tools such as: GoConqr for our mindmaps, Google Tool Builder for our virtual travel guides ,Thinglink for our interactive photos , Artsteps and Classtools.net for our 3D exhibitions,Canva and Linoit for our posters, Issuu for our Cookbooks.
Through eTwinning,my pupils learned to use ICT tools in a pedagogically meaningful way.
They wrote comments in the forums, chatted with real people, did interactive exercises, took and uploaded digital photos and videos, searched for information, etc. And all this took place in the pedagogical context of studying English communication.
Results, impact and documentation
This project, enthused and motivated the children. Children fully enjoyed and participated in the project. It enabled the pupils to use new technologies, to learn about the culture of their European friends (tangible and intangible) and experience through their communication how English is not only a school subject but an indispensable means of communication. Most importantly it extended their cultural awareness and knowledge, it enabled them to learn about, respect and celebrate similarities and differences among them, celebrate individualism and internationalism through fun activities and tasks. Children were HAPPY, shared and received HAPPINESS AND SMILES!
Children need to understand the diverse world they live in, respect values, different languages and faiths by working together and this is achieved through enhancing pupils understanding of their place in a culturally diverse society and by giving them opportunities to experience such diversity.
Our project, helped us to widen our horizons, reconsider our perspectives, improve self-esteem, increase understanding of different cultures and feelings , enhance tolerance and prove that “communication is at the basis of understanding”.
All in all, we achieved :
to promote group activities for tolerance and cultural understanding;
to strengthen my students’ intercultural competences in order to be ready for responsible understanding of Europe’s identity and common values;
to develop the European dimension through arts education (origami crafts etc) and creativity with the aim to promote multiculturalism and tolerance between students;
To develop “Out-of-the-box” activities that would encourage mutual support, team building and group cohesion ;
Encourage personalized learning approaches by acquiring new artistic and pedagogical skills with the aim of developing new ideas and creativity of the students involved in the project.
Are you constantly looking for creative projects for your students?
Do you want activities that ignite their imaginations?
Make things with recyclables. I always do so, mainly with my 3rd graders !
When they use items found in their recycling bin or around the house/school to create toys and treasures kids love, it inspires them to tap into their creativity and use what’s available.
It’s good for the environment and also helps develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
It teaches kids that once something has been used for its initial purpose, it doesn’t mean that we have to throw it away.
Have a conversation about the recycling process with your kids. Share how different things are made and then broken down after you throw them away, and how it’s better for the environment when you reuse and re-purpose certain materials.
“Go recycle” guessing game
For my favorite activity,using recycled trash, you will need:
Items from the recycling bin: Milk cartons,egg cartons, cereal boxes, food packaging, toilet rolls, scrap paper, etc.
Craft materials: feathers, googly eyes, glitter, buttons, ribbon, paint, markers, etc.—whatever you have around the house or school.
1. Find or create an interesting bag to use as the bag of mysteries/a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.
2. Collect a selection of objects to be placed in the mystery bag/under a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.
a. Can be based on a theme
• For example: Things you find in a kitchen/you can recycle.
Students try to identify the objects as they touch each one.
Cover them lightly with a large scarf ,a small, lightweight blanket or any piece of cloth available.
Let children feel object and try to guess what it is. Obviously, as children explore, they increase tactile awareness, vocabulary, memory and communication skills!
As they reached in and felt the items, we talked about what they felt. First I asked them to describe what they felt, and then I asked leading questions, such as: was it hard or soft? big or small? what color?
With some things, they guessed right away, and with others we talked through more questions.
The first time I tried this activity, I gathered up several items that could be recycled, a scarf, and a bandana. I covered their eyes with the bandana, and they reached under the scarf, felt the objects , and guessed what each object was.
Two more IDEAS:
1.Guess the Summer item
In the beginning of the school year, you can select items that remind them of summer:
seashells and rocks from the beach
Same, with any other Season or Special Day.
2. Making toys from junk
When looking to inspire your kids’ creativity, search no further than your recycling bin. Glass, plastic, and cardboard are all incredibly versatile crafting supplies with an infinite number of uses.
I asked my 3rd graders to make their own toys using recycled items they can find at home. I showed them the first Doll’s House my daughter made when she was their age, using old boxes! They loved it and got inspired !
The main idea behind all the crafts my students made- which you can see here below- is that you can make toys from junk. It will cost nothing and often teach kids some basics of engineering and practice their English at the same time, in order to present their toy to the class.