Friday, June 17, 2011

EMPATIC report: eTwinning

In this post on the EMPATIC project seminar on Information Literacy (IL) in the Schools Sector, held in Krakow, Poland on 8 June, I will summarise a talk by Gracjana Wieckowska on eTwinning. eTwinning is a European project which involves schools in European countries twinning electronically. School librarians can apply for these projects, as well as school teachers etc., which is why it was being promoted at this seminar. As well as EU countries there are some others eligible, such as those in Norway, Turkey and Macedonia. The age of schoolchildren can be from Kindergarten through to 18, and it is open to all schools to apply.
Teachers have a lot of freedom in deciding in the subject, duration and scope of the project. In Poland (which has had the most eTwinning projects so far), one year projects are the most popular, though they alaso have two and three year projects. Projects should be connected with curricula and/or developing key competencies. eTwinning offers a safe digital platform for running the project, and there is a shared “twinspace” for the children’s work. They can also use the technologies that students are already fond of. The projects may involve information creation, and this also leads to explanation of intellectual property rights andf other IL issues.

Being involved in eTwinning can provide motivation e.g. a student may be extra motivated to do well if the project output iis to be shared with a student in another country. The project should also stimulate language skills. The role of the teacher is to develop the tasks, but in particualr to support the students in being creative and active. Wieckowska gave some examples of eTwinning: 5 and 6 year olds learnt about the dangers of environmental pollution, slightly older children had projects about “Music without borders” (involving childrent from Slovakia, Poland and the UK), there was “The classroom full of cars”, and another about water pollution (“Adventure of the drop”). Children collected information in different ways, including observation, interviewing and using print and electronic sources. They sometimes communicated through performance (e.g. for the music project).
You can see more in the eTwinning newsletter and these were prizewinning eTwinning projects for 2011. The embedded video above is about these winners.
Any school librarian in one of the eligible countries could follow this up and consider applying for a project.

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