Did you know that the sentence “The bell is ringing!” can be said in two different ways? We usually mean it as the happy sign when a tedious lesson that feels like it has been going on for an eternity is finally over. However, “The bell is ringing!” can also be meant in a sad way, when we are truly sorry we cannot continue our activity and we feel disappointed that our great fun is interrupted.
The phrase has been heard in the latter way more frequently in our school over the past eight years. eTwinning activities can motivate our children to such an extent that they often demand that the lesson gets extended. Do you find this an overstatement? Those who have been working with eTwinning for quite some time know what I am talking about – a bottomless well of inspiration, non-traditional approaches, new friendships, experiences, challenges… and last but not least happy pupils. If you don’t believe me, ask my students, as you can read from their poem below:
With eTwinning infected,
by collaboration enchanted,
some knowledge smarter,
heaps of friends richer,
projects planning ,
boredom not knowing.
Join our quest and you’ll be the best!
A collaborative poem by pupils of 4.A class
I, personally, find eTwinning a driving force not only for my pupils but for me as well. I cannot imagine teaching in a different way. I have gotten used to planning and linking activities with real life, practically testing gained knowledge and comparing it with experience and findings of the partner school… We go forward leaps and bounds working with ICTs, from working with photographs, videos, audio recordings, through creating a class website, to videoconferencing and hanging out with several partner schools, or working with iPad with its applications necessary to keep track of and process project activities.
I find eTwinning the fittest tool to develop children’s curiosity, their desire to explore the new and clarify the unknown. eTwinning teaches children to clearly formulate problems, discuss new situations, propose solutions and verify them through practical activities. It enhances their ability to work together to unveil the unknown as well as it fosters their sense of cooperation.
All our projects were based on children’s exploratory activities, creative work and play, which resulted in their higher level of involvement both during and after classes. Also, a great benefit was that children started to look forward to many of their classes, as they were led informally, in a friendly environment and often outside the classroom without textbooks and exercise books.
Another benefit of our projects was that the pupils who were involved in eTwinning for a longer period gradually started to take on the roles of project creators and not only participants. They were used to the project-based method of work since the first grade, so when they were fourth graders they themselves requested this kind of approach. They decided on the project content, its overall direction; they tried to adapt it to the current situation in the class, school and the entire society. They always suggested and amended something.
When we discussed with the children what they liked most about eTwinning (besides the above mentioned benefits), they said it was the prize giving ceremony. None of the teachers in our school had achieved anything like this before so it was a huge thing both in our school and the town of Ilava. Our two journeys to Žilina were a great reward for us and we enjoyed them both very much as soon as we had got on the train. The children not only dressed up for the occasion but they also put on appropriately serious faces. Below you can find a few observations, which we uploaded to the class website the following day, while the impressions were still fresh:
2012/2013 School year
2013/2014 School year
2014/2015 School year
Jana Kostialikova, Primary school, Slovakia