Mon, Sep 10th, 2018
eTwinning has a network of eTwinning Ambassadors throughout Europe: these are teachers who use eTwinning in their classrooms and are happy to share their experience and knowledge with their peers. In this post, one of our Irish eTwinning Ambassadors, primary teacher Gráinne Nugent (St Brigid’s Primary School, Kildare), shares some ideas on how to integrate eTwinning into Primary School classrooms, while tying in with the Primary Language Curriculum. Gráinne studied Audio/Visual Communications prior to embarking on her teaching journey and she tells us she is passionate about using ICT to support teaching and learning!
Everything we read in education circles these days is about motivating students. But how about motivating teachers at the same time?! Over the course of a 40-year career, we would be forgiven for thinking that some days are monotonous and sometimes we get stuck in a rut with our teaching. eTwinning is a free resource backed by the Department of Education and Skills and funded through Europe that throws your classroom wide open to endless possibilities and surprises!
In the world of ICT in teaching, eTwinning is a form of ‘Digital Penpals’. It provides a safe, free and easy platform for contacting other teachers across Europe and linking your school up with them. Teachers can take part in collaborative projects that embrace the work ALREADY being achieved in the classroom. Projects can be of any duration: one week to one month to one academic year!
In the age of the new Primary Language Curriculum, eTwinning provides your students with an audience for their writing and their oral language. At a basic level they can share images of their writing with a class in Europe who will also share with them. Children can edit the work of their peers to allow them practise this skill and share results easily with their new friends via the platform. This can be teacher-led or student-led depending on your preferences. In this post, I provide a brief snapshot of project ideas that can show how eTwinning can easily be used to enhance both teaching and learning. The possibilities are endless!
Try a project with a partner in Europe around the theme of a chosen story, for example Goldilocks. Draw pictures and share them with the partner school to allow children to sequence them. Film the children retelling the story and share the video with the other school. Sing a song relating to the theme and share with the other school. Show the children where their new friends live in Europe and discuss the similarities and the differences between the countries based on shared photos. Post Christmas cards to new friends and practise handwriting. Engage in a video call with the other school to sing the song the students have learned or have a virtual ‘Teddy Bear picnic’ with them. Children can ask each other questions about their schools on camera.
Learn about the partner country. Use the themes of my school, my town, my county, my country. Plan to cover one topic each week or each month depending on how long the schools want to work together. Share pictures, pieces of writing, songs etc. with the partner school. Use the new Primary Language Curriculum as the basis for genre work that you can share, for example: reports on your town/county; procedures such as how to make butter (linking to History); making maps of the school and sharing with partner schools.
Share stories of long ago; examine games in the past: perhaps use video to demo old games our grandparents used to play. Draw pictures in the form of a comic book. Use procedure in English to write about how to play the games and share with partner school(s). Again use the new Primary Language Curriculum as the basis for your project, sharing things you would be teaching anyway with a partner school so that the children have an audience. This will expand their motivation and yours too!
Focus on a partner country, for example the customs and heritage of the country, its language(s), currency, locating it on a world map. Share information about our own country. Use writing to share acrostic poems about their own country, create persuasive tourist brochures, write reports about school tours they’ve been on to encourage partner schools to visit. Use a variety of writing genres to promote their own country while learning about the partner school’s country in the same manner. This will link into the new Primary Language Curriculum and bring life to your English lessons. Writing for an audience is what encourages children to write. Sharing their work with a real audience in another European country allows children to expand their view of the world. A simple ‘Live’ chat via the etwinning.net platform can open up questions about weather in the partner country, whether they wear uniforms…if not should they etc. There is no limit to the possibilities that this free platform can offer you to support the work that you are already doing in the classroom. All of the above ideas can be adapted for Gaelscoileanna through the medium of English also and shared with partner schools.
There are many ‘Project Kits’ on the platform which are essentially a bank of ideas that you might like to use and that tie in with your plans for the year. In addition to providing project opportunities, eTwinning also has a variety of free CPD opportunities for teachers. From webinars to learning events to face-to-face funded courses across Europe, there is something for everyone!
Joining etwinning.net is easy! Just register for free and follow up with the link in your email. Feel free to contact me for support in finding a project partner or setting up a project. Remember it is a resource to help support the fantastic work that you are already doing in the classroom! So why not try it out this term or next to help invigorate your teaching and motivate both you and your students!?
Download a booklet of stories of how Irish schools have used eTwinning (English agus Gaeilge).
Download a booklet on how to register on the eTwinning platform and what you can do once you’re there (English agus Gaeilge).