eTwinning winner: Playing and Learning - Escuela Infantil Gloria Fuertes, Spain and Przedszkole Publiczne nr 5, Glogów, Poland
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The project is geared for pre-school where teachers and pupils use ICT to communicate and exchange information on cultures, teacher training and software. Teachers implement common methodologies and material to teach English at pre-school level.
What was your motivation to join eTwinning?
EWA: I felt obliged not to miss the opportunity that eTwinning gave me. It’s a very unique programme, since it fosters direct cooperation between schools and nurseries. Another unique thing is that it offers tools to communicate and publish the outcomes of cooperation online – they are the same for all Europeans schools, which is very valuable. I imagined a variety of benefits for all nursery beneficiaries as a result of the cooperation. I was interested in how nursery school teachers from other European countries work with their pupils, how to include teachers working at my school and my pupils in the cooperation, how to include the cooperation into the nursery school curriculum so that it became an integral part of everyday activities and at the same time made my pedagogical activities more lively and attractive.
Taking part in eTwinning does not exclude taking part in other programmes, such as Comenius, Spring Day in Europe, and Safer Internet Action Plan. When I was registering my nursery school I had the outline of the project ready.
MARÍA PIEDAD: I was attending a distance course about eTwinning and, besides, I was very interested in sharing my computer programme with another European nursery or school. I wanted to know if it could be useful in another country and school, not only in mine and in Spain. I like to know how other teachers work in other countries in order to exchange our practices and improve them.
What was the most enjoyable aspect and the most difficult one during the project?
EWA: That was the first experience of regular cooperation. We needed to spend a lot of time to correspond and to understand the intentions of our partner. The basis for good cooperation is involvement in the communication process (planning process: agreeing on the activities, analysis and reflecting upon the outcomes).
Our cooperation was based on topics common to both nurseries. It was not very difficult to find and join common aims in a project. We came to the conclusion that the curricula at both nurseries are very similar. They are based on similar pedagogical and psychological concepts. The only differences were in digital equipment, software and the practical use of these.
In order to accomplish the task, I asked the people from outside my nursery for help. Their involvement was far from what I had expected – they became an integral part of the team coordinating the project (the names are included in the description of the project). A mighty team including nursery education experts - teaching staff at the nursery, and the English teacher and ICT specialist were located here in Poland. We’re a very closely cooperating team, offering mutual support whenever there’s a need. Thanks to all the people, a website of the project was created, into which we put all our resources. All the texts that can be found on the site can be understood by all English speaking teachers. It was really nice to watch the progress. In addition, it stimulated us to work more. Maria was a really committed coordinator in her nursery.
MARÍA PIEDAD: The most enjoyable aspect was that of discovering the similarities and the differences between our countries and schools and, of course, discovering how hard-working Ewa is. She is so enthusiastic that she can get everything she wants.
How do you think that the eTwinning project added extra value to the “routine” school work?
EWA: In the first place, the project was created for the youngest children. The time that they spend in the nursery is filled with many activities and games. In Polish nurseries, all games for children are interdisciplinary – there are no subjects. The contents of various fields of education (art education, musical education, kinaesthetic education, linguistic education, mathematical education, socio-emotional education, etc.) overlap.
In cognitive, creative and recreational processes, we use the polysensory involvement of every child. We had to correlate ICT with traditional games in the most appropriate way. Because the children are very young, they are still learning how to write and read in their mother tongues and have just started learning English, direct communication between Polish and Spanish children was not possible. The children who did the artwork took pictures and recorded their voices singing Christmas carols and greetings; they scanned the pictures and decided whether to put the materials in the multimedia presentations or not. We used parts of multimedia computer programmes such as “English for Little Children” and digital resources from websites in games and plays with our pupils. Maria’s own computer programme played a very unique part in our project. Our pupils prepared Christmas cards with wishes and we sent them by traditional post.
Maria gave them to her pupils during the Christmas play. One of the most interesting experiences was working on a website of the project, especially making Maria’s programme available and also setting up an online gallery with pictures, which is very frequently and enthusiastically visited by my pupils’ parents.
MARÍA PIEDAD: Above all it gives me and my school the encouragement to improve and be proud about what we do. We know that we were important to the other nursery and that it valued our works, so we tried to do our very best. I have improved ICT skills, for example, by using a collaborative platform such as MAMBO; it was the first time I used it and was a good experience.
What kind of impact has your participation had on other classes and/or schools and how they can benefit from your experience?
EWA: Our project can be a good example of cooperation and involvement of all the people at the nursery. Our international cooperation was noticed by local authorities soon after it started. They helped us to set up the website of the project. Right after winning, we were given equipment as a prize which will help us continue our cooperation and will help us to present its outcomes to the parents and other teachers. The teachers became convinced that there is point in learning and issuing a challenge. The children are happy, as are the parents, teachers and the team coordinating the project.
Our work and partnership was noticed and awarded in a very special way. We received a letter from the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland in which the staff of the Chancellery, on behalf of the President of the Republic of Poland, congratulated us on winning the competition and expressed recognition of the perfect representation of Polish education abroad, in the European arena. I invite teachers to share their ideas on the Internet. Our project and site are open for new partners because there are huge possibilities offered by the educational programmes of individual countries, as well as by the tools offered by eTwinning. We will be able to search for effective methods of bringing up and teaching little children. The experiences we share allow us to learn from each other.
MARÍA PIEDAD: We are quite famous; local and national newspapers published the news about our prize, and it gives us the necessary support to keep on working. Parents, children and teachers are very happy with our success. On the other hand, we learnt a lot about how other teachers collaborate during the eTwinning conference in Linz, and also learnt about tools. We felt as though we were members of a wider community, brought together by values and ICT.
After this project, what are your plans for the future (more similar kinds of projects, new approaches in teaching, etc.)?
EWA: We continue our partnership collaboration within different areas. We are currently working on the project UNIVERSAL VALUES http://www.glogow.pl/pp5. It's a widely know Internet project gathering digital resources that assist in teaching at a primary level. We are trying to involve other teachers and create an international exchange of lesson plans and teaching tips.
We also take part in other international projects (e.g. Spring Day in Europe 2006). We are organising a contest entitled "Children's rights in images" which consists of illustrations of certain articles of the "Children's Rights Convention" by children. We will participate in other programmes. We will choose those that will give our pupils the opportunity for active involvement and versatile development and that will increase international contacts. We are trying to increase the communication tools - at the moment we are preparing the equipment, children and their parents for videoconferencing. With the help of Internet publications and conferences for teachers, we are going to share our knowledge with other colleagues in the country and all over Europe.
MARÍA PIEDAD: Our plan is to keep on working together with eTwinning projects, for example, with a Comenius project that it is also about values. It will allow us to visit each other and to know our nurseries and children. Besides that, we will try to use videoconferencing between our schools and will try to encourage our children to use English to communicate among themselves. Personally, I will try to improve my English in order to seek more effectiveness from our collaborations. Therefore, I will concentrate on studying a great deal for more than 2 years.
Interviewed Ewa Kurzak from Przedszkole Publiczne Nr 5 w Głogowie (Poland) and Maria Piedad Avello from EEI Gloria Guertes in Gijón (Spain).