Everyday Situations. 2016 eTwinning national awards
Everyday Situations is an award-winning eTwinning project in the new 16-19 category. The project, carried out at the Cuatro Caminos secondary school (Extremadura) with partners from Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Ukraine, deals with the exchange of socio-cultural aspects, mostly encouraging the language proficiency of pupils. We should highlight the great interest and motivation of students. The project has led to the creation of very valuable material, reused by other teachers in future projects.
Marta Meneses, coordinator at the Cuatro Caminos secondary school in Extremadura tells us about this experience with school colleagues, pupils and partner schools.
This is an English, French, German, Spanish and Esperanto multilingual project whose main aims were to establish regular contact between several European schools, to get to know one another and try to have an exchange in the near future, encourage the use of a foreign language in real situations, increase the use of new technologies in learning a foreign language and expand knowledge to other European cultures
All the aims have been achieved, as reflected in our daily blog Diary Everyday Situations Diary, which includes all the activities carried out.
On the implementation of the project in terms of successes, failures, difficulties encountered and finding solutions.
We had the collaboration of a team from a secondary school in the UK for situations in French, and which for a number of reasons didn’t take place, and in order to provide situations in French we decided to form the French team with pupils from our school of a similar level, and also taking advantage of the fact that Esperanto is taught in two weekly breaktimes, to include some situations in Esperanto.
One of the difficulties was to coordinate such a numerous group of students. From our point of view, if we start a new project the next academic year, we should have a smaller group of students and select activities that appeal to them.
Another difficulty that should be mentioned is that not all the schools involved have classrooms with computers that work properly. Video conferencing, for example, one of the pupils’ favourite activities, requires an enormous effort and we must add the almost nonexistence of a timetable that allows direct communication between both schools during school hours.
Overall assessment of project participation and results
The creation of the blog increased student interest in learning a foreign language, in addition to considerably increasing their creativity. The great variety of activities helped make classes more attractive.
The virtual exchange conducted between schools has significantly improved the communication skills of pupils in a foreign language, and who have felt very proud of themselves on seeing the results.
Involvement of pupils, other departments, educational representatives, other external bodies
Although the project was carried out with a complete group of 4th year secondary pupils, not all students participated in the same way. The vast majority showed great enthusiasm for programme activities, helping them to lose their fear of public speaking, especially in a foreign language, and to work together, equitably distributing tasks.
The participation of other teachers in the project was essential to carry out some of the activities: The Artistic and Visual Education teacher taught us how to make collages with different pictures, to manipulate images with GIMP, to be creative in producing our posters, etc. The Information Technology and Communication teacher helped us create our blog by using blogger and to upload text, photos, videos, presentations, etc. The Physical Education teacher prepared the choreography and scenes to record a video showing the school to our partners. We must stress the involvement of an important part of the educational community to make this recording in less than two hours.
And the selfless involvement of our language assistant, Alexandra Borostean, out of hours, to monitor the activities. Her collaboration in the project helped to improve abilities and skills in the written expression of the pupils participating in the project, and the relationship with pupils outside of class contributed to their more active participation in these conversation classes.
The PTA at our school made a financial contribution to the purchase of the necessary ingredients in making cupcakes for the POTLUCK (Saint Patrick’s Day at Cuatro Caminos secondary school) activity. Some mothers helped and taught our pupils and some teachers to prepare these delicious cupcakes decorated with motifs of the event celebrated.
We were also lucky enough to have the participation of two volunteers from the EUROPEAN VOLUNTARY SERVICE (EVS) programme: Willem Van Schill from Belgium and Vanessa Lemesre from France. Both work for the Cerujovi association in Don Benito, which helps organize activities to enhance learning languages like English and French. They both helped in the celebration of our St. Patrick’s Day.
We should finally mention that Don Benito town council, through its Tourism Office, gave us the chance to produce a new edition of the city guide with them in Spanish and English.
Benefits for the school, teachers and pupils
Thanks to the blog and the use of TwinSpace, both teachers and pupils have managed to use a foreign language to achieve several objectives: promoting teamwork between teachers and distance learning students by using the skills gained, not only in language areas, but also in others such as Artistic and Visual Education and Physical Education, increasing the self-esteem and motivation of schoolchildren and ensuring a European dimension for our school, culture,…
Another benefit for pupils and, of course, for participating teachers, has been the use of new technologies in the classroom. We’ve learned to use programs to edit text, images, videos, blog, etc., to use browsers like Chrome, become familiar with TwinSpace to communicate with students and teachers from partner schools, and other media such as emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc, to use Google Drive tools to create presentations and our blog, to upload documents to Dropbox and Google Drive.
Quality and reuse of materials produced
Our project serves as an example to other language teachers to encourage oral communication in a foreign language and the use of new technologies in the classroom. We know that this project has increased the interest of other teachers and pupils in the eTwinning platform, not only at our school, but also at other schools in our town and surrounding areas.
Another result obtained has been the publication of a guide of Don Benito in English. The idea of collaborating with the town council to translate our town guide into English came up with one of the activities planned: to show our town to the other partner institutions.
On the recognition of this project with a eTwinning 2016 national award
It was a great satisfaction to learn how to properly handle certain resources and also to discover and learn some new ones with my pupils, all of them very useful in daily teaching practice.
It’s been an enriching and very positive experience. I’ve met teachers from other countries who’ve helped me to improve my English and I’ve learned to work in a team with them. This is my second eTwinning project and achieving the National and European Label in two consecutive years encourages you to continue with these kinds of experiences. And obtaining a National Prize with this second project represents recognition of the work done for so many years.
JOSÉ Mª SALGUERO RODRÍGUEZ (Language and Literature and Esperanto Teacher)
For the Esperanto Workshop at this Cuatro Caminos secondary school to participate on an equal footing with other groups of languages taught at the school (French, English) in the eTwinning project provided us with many positive new features in workshop tasks. Firstly, for Esperanto to be accepted on equal terms with other languages gave us an identity and confirmed the idea that we were doing something useful. Secondly it opened up a range of working possibilities for us; in fact, from that experience, and during the current school year, we’re setting up a similar theatrical experience. Third it was very enriching to contribute to the diverse activities at the school.
JUAN RUIZ FERNANDEZ (Mathematics and Information Technology and Communication Teacher)
It’s been a positive experience. Pupils have acquired knowledge of new technologies, while conducting a language learning project. It’s helped them to appreciate and understand how the use of these new tools can help them to extend their life and professional horizons.
DOLORES RUIZ MORENO (Physical Education Teacher)
Collaborating on this project from a non-linguistic area (physical education) gives us the chance, in addition to working on contents related to the subject, to develop an exchange with other countries, with pupils, through body language and dancing (universal language).
SILVIA CORCOBADO DONOSO (French Student)
Our late involvement in the project didn’t allow us to fully enjoy it from the beginning, but better late than never. The hours I spent with my partners were great fun and very rewarding.
LAURA IGLESIAS FERNÁNDEZ (English Student)
I was delighted to form part of this project. Thanks to all the activities in this work, we’ve learned many things, especially about working as a team. It’s provided the opportunity to interact with people of our own age but from a variety of countries, and I’d highlight this as one of the best parts. If given the chance to participate again, I’d do so without any hesitation.
JOSÉ IGNACIO ROMERO FERNÁNDEZ (English Student)
For me, participating in eTwinning has been an enriching experience for many reasons, such as making use of English in real communication situations. Also, working in coordination with young Europeans with similar interests to us. I’ve had the chance to work with my schoolmates on preparing project activities and making a different use of new technologies.
FRANCISCO GÓMEZ LÓPEZ (English and Esperanto Student)
Participating in the eTwinning project was amazing. I learned many new things, we worked as a team, and most importantly, I met a lot of foreign people and had a great time. We did a great job and we’re very happy with everything, I hope that someday we can do it again, because I’d love to. Best of all was to revive a language like Esperanto, almost extinct now, but which deserves to be known. I’m very proud of what we did!
ENCARNA CASADO CALDERÓN (PTA Representative)
For me, as a mother, it’s been a pleasure to work on this project, in which we’ve learned to make cupcakes, decorating them for St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of Ireland. Doing this activity has conveyed to me the excitement and enthusiasm of the participating pupils, working in teams to develop their imagination, patience and creativity, sharing some unforgettable moments. On behalf of the organization I’d like to congratulate Marta Fernández Meneses for a job well done, her perseverance and daily work, which has now been rewarded with the National Prize obtained. CONGRATULATIONS!
ANDRÉS ARROYO CALAMA (Tourism official at Don Benito Town Council)
For the Don Benito Tourist Office, it’s been a pleasure to have a brochure in English produced by such wonderful and well-qualified people. The work that they contributed at the time was great, and to promote tourism in our city. It met all the conditions for promoting tourism and seeking foreign users to visit our facilities.
We look forward to working with you in future editions, because we believe that this type of work is very productive for everyone.