The incredible life of Marcus Poncius Europaeus
The incredible life of Marcus Poncius Europaeus is an eTwinning-Comenius project with schools from Spain, Italy, Turkey, France, Greece and Poland participating. The aim is to create the biography of a fictional character who travels through Europe in Roman times, but with the particularity of using the language of contemporary media. It’s an interdisciplinary project aimed at secondary education pupils aged 14-18.
Ángel Luis Gallego Real, a teacher at the Vegas Bajas secondary school (Montijo-Badajoz) tells us about his experience in implementing the project. We also learned the opinion of the management team at the school, and that of some collaborators and participating pupils.
Overall, our project has sought the following aims:
- Explore new methodological approaches for the study of English and Latin, in constant interaction with ICT. That’s why we used PBL methodology, looking for students to learn meaningful content independently. We also tried to ensure that our activities were related to real communication contexts, with all that this implies for improvement of linguistic competence.
- Become familiar with the world of contemporary media through their language and their way of communication. That’s why we imitated current media formats such as the interview, documentary, reportage, etc. We thereby sought for students to assimilate this kind of language.
- Be aware of the issues that concern Europe, such as immigration, solidarity, pollution etc. So we decided that each episode should focus on a specific problem and expand on it in the general story line.
Other aims we proposed were:
- Focussing on the Roman world. We tried to investigate Roman Culture, researching Latin references related to the places where our schools are located; we filmed in recognized archaeological sites, such as theatres in Mérida, Catania, the Temple of Concord in Agrigento, Egnatia etc.
- The use of the natural method to learn Latin. The activities we did have brought teaching of this language into line with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. We trained pupils to practice language through use, referring to new lexical areas familiar to them such as the presentation, the weather, living in society, etc. Our methodology resulted in the use of this language as the language of communication and we investigated its use linked to current social communication media.
- A new methodological perspective, in which learning ranges from practice to content, from use to grammar through an innovative methodology, an adaptation of the Flipped Classroom for our materials. As a result we put the emphasis on the pupil being the engine of their own learning, performing collaborative activities as the natural way towards this goal.
- Etwinning involves new technologies and collaboration, and that has been another key that we tried to develop in the project: to offer a wide range of dynamic and fun activities and researching the educational use of many new web 2.0 tools.
We fully achieved the aims, thanks to the growing interest of pupils and the permanent contact of teachers, and in which everyone did their best for a common project.
Regarding the implementation of the project in terms of successes, failures, difficulties encountered and finding solutions.
Before starting the project, we prepared a detailed schedule of activities that we were going to carry out and their timing, considering the school year calendar of each and every one of the participating countries. This helped us a lot, because we knew well in advance what the next activity would be and the time available to do it.
One of the greatest successes was the fact of creating activities in a collaborative way among teachers. Each activity includes all the methodological suggestions made by various people; we tried different tools to choose the best in each case; helping each other with filming, video editing, etc.
The common difficulty in all these projects is the work created for each teacher, outside school hours. It involves many afternoons to prepare the project and implement it, a lot of time spent filming, recreations, preparation of common classes, conducting activities in new technologies classrooms that are often being used, etc. We must thank the school management for facilitating all subjects related to the classrooms and the material as much as possible, and their explicit support in contacting all institutions that could help us. Without the involvement of the management team we couldn’t have achieved our goals.
Overall assessment of participation and project results..
Our project is based on a Comenius project, on which we’ve developed a complementary eTwinning project. Participation has gradually increased from the pupils participating in the project to their classes, especially in the subjects of Latin and English. In some activities, such as the Solidarity race, the whole educational community was involved.
But going back to eTwinning, we believe that participation has been excellent. Many pupils have not only found a way to learn our subjects differently on the platform, but also an open window to Europe, where they’ve always found someone on the other side to chat and meet.
The main results are as follows:
– Contribution to innovative teaching from our areas of expertise.
– Familiarizing pupils with the classical world from a modern perspective.
– Significant improvement of language skills in spoken English and Latin, according to the curriculum.
– Promoting a sense of Europe as something that unites us.
– Promoting respect for cultural and artistic heritage.
– Promoting respect for cultural diversity.
– Learning a wide range of Web 2.0 tools
– Research in the use of these Web 2.0 tools with an educational purpose.
Involvement of pupils, other departments, educational representatives, other external bodies.
As discussed earlier, this was an eTwinning-Comenius project in which we had the participation of the entire educational community, giving a special mention to the Management Board. Activities were conducted in which students had to involve their families; others in which the Department of History helped us; Montijo and Barbaño Town Councils worked closely with us; for filming our documentary we had the help of the Consortium of the Monumental City of Mérida, the National Museum of Roman Art, Emeritae Ludus Gladiatorum (gladiators), Ara Concordiae (Recreation group), Friends of the Villa de Torreáguila (guides), etc…
Benefits for the school, teachers and pupils.
Overall, we believe the project has provided the following benefits:
- Synergies between European schools in their teaching methods
- Encouraging a greater range of curricular activities of a European nature and a multidisciplinary programme.
- Inclusion in the curricula of the European dimension, and collaborative activities with other European schools.
- Improving the quality of education through a fruitful exchange of ideas, methods and tools.
- Increase in the prestige and European dimension of the School.
- Improving English Language Proficiency
- Introduction of new and innovative teaching methods,
- Establishing contact with other European teachers with whom they have shared dynamics and methodologies
- Promoting of interdisciplinary work
- Strengthening teamwork among teachers.
- Chance to share online teaching activities away from their everyday experience.
In addition to the European component, the impact of our project resulted in:
- Improvement of Language Proficiency in English and Latin.
- Increased motivation for the study of foreign languages, especially English.
- Increased motivation to study Latin.
- Increased motivation to learn the language of the current means of communication.
- Improving Technological Competence; improvement of interpersonal and cultural exchange
- Evaluation of what the different countries have in common and what is different, emphasizing the depth of our European culture.
- Increased opportunities for young people from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds through their participation in an eTwinning project.
- Reinforcing a sense of unity among adult members of the school community, due to the participation of their children in a European project.
- Promoting respect for the legacy of Roman civilization in Europe and appreciation of its cultural and historical heritage among community members.
- Increased participation of parents, local people and associations with the School.
- Presentation of the school community to a European audience.
- Making the school community aware of the various problems affecting Europe.
Quality and reuse of materials produced
Talking about the quality of our activities might seem a bit pretentious on our part. What we can say is that the teachers have worked collaboratively to create them, we’ve sought their effectiveness and they’ve been useful for our purposes. We also believe that, mutatis mutandis, they can be used in other areas of knowledge.
Our project involved creating a fictitious biography for a Roman character through different episodes focused on the current problems of Europe. Our pupils have participated in all stages. This puzzle-type design is easily accessible by any team of teachers who want to improve the language skills of their pupils. Success is assured as soon as the following ingredients are combined: participation of pupils, going from practice to theory, ICT tools and transnational team work.
In addition, as teachers we can include aspects that interest us, like specific vocabulary, the connection with the modern world, cross-cutting issues, etc … In this sense, one of the most valuable results of our project has been educational experimentation, not only methodologically, but also with web 2.0 tools. In fact, the amount of material produced shows that pupils were motivated and fascinated by this new way of approaching both Latin and English.
Many of the activities in Latin can be successfully applied anywhere in Europe where this language is taught and used as a complement to natural learning, apart from serving to foster a relationship between European students.
We would like to mention a number of examples of how our activities can be applied in other areas of knowledge:
- Collaborative documents on a specific subject: (Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, English, Language…)
- Creating a collaborative story (Language, English, French, Latin…)
- Dramatization of scenes (Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Language, English, French, …)
Looking at the numerous activities we’ve done, you can see that they’re easily adaptable to the actual contexts.
Recognition of this project as an eTwinning national prize 2016
As a project coordinator, it’s been a great joy to see recognition of the work done by a large team of teachers and especially by our pupils, which are always the engines of our project. They, the pupils, are the real winners and we the teachers must stay in the background, with the satisfaction of a job well done.
Headteacher: José Luis Pérez Romero
This project has been a great way to combine ICT with creativity to establish fruitful working relations with other European schools. In addition, the analysis of current social problems from the Marcus point of view has been very successful, since it’s given even more value to the work done.
Project Partner Silvia González Chaves
It was fantastic to work together with teachers of other nationalities. A lot of work but very rewarding in terms of methodology. It’s proof that the school can involve pupils in their own learning in an innovative way.
Project Partner José Manuel Menéndez-Manjón Cueto
As a History teacher, I must praise the thoroughness with which the whole life of Marcus Poncius was strung together, in order to place it at a particular time. Excellent work at eTwinning, the result of the work by a great team.
Pupil José Manuel Álvarez
I enjoyed working on this project that has at the same time allowed me to learn, practice my English and meet many friends from all over Europe.
Pupil Pilar Alvez
It’s been an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve made many friends through eTwinning and I‘ve worked harder than ever. And better still, I wanted to!
Image Source: Project TwinSpace.