There have been a great number of changes in education systems worldwide recently. Typically schools had an isolated control over pupils’ education, preparing learners for exams before continuing onto further education or work. Thus, teaching was mostly exam preparation or exam training, especially in the final years of the secondary schools. The learners of the 21st century need innovative methods integrated into the teaching process. Students are motivated by solving real-world problems and express a preference for doing rather than listening.
The internationalization of European societies and the growing movement across national borders puts high demands on the ability of people to live with and appreciate the values inherent in cultural diversity. Social and civic skills are necessary tools that equip individuals to participate in society in a constructive manner. Knowledge of customs and traditions in different environments is necessary and particularly knowledge of social and political concepts and structures to understand the world we live in with so many people who have fled to Europe the past years. Our schools need to be equipped to meet the needs of refugees who came in large quantities in a short time.
Good pedagogy encourages the following:
– development of critical thinking to find solutions
– learners are given the opportunity to reflect on their learning, both individually and as a team
– active engagement with concepts, facts, models and procedures linked to real-life context
– creative use of emerging technologies to promote learning, prepare for a working life
– collaboration as an integral part of the school curriculum within the school and with external agents
– interdisciplinary perspective has entered education with ICT being a key skill used across the curriculum
– students must get accustomed to integrated assessment that reflects real-world evaluation processes
– integration of cultures into school life as the diversity of pupils increases
Pupil voice in our schools has shown a need for newer and more innovative education methods so that students feel they are doing something useful towards their future rather than just treading water. At the same time, a more relevant curriculum will encourage school avoiders which is relevant to all countries participating.
Each school has its strengths and best practices that it can share with partners. We intend to share good practices and create innovative methods to make the teaching process more relevant to current technologies. The project will develop constructive and creative use of digital communication (ICT), enlarge participants’ knowledge of the European Union, improve language skills (English as the common project language), develop a deeper awareness of inter-cultural differences and similarities (inter-cultural competence), promote processes of collaboration among students, improve relationships between students, teachers and staff and therefore improve the climate of our schools.
As stated our group of schools is varied and each school has similar and complimentary needs. The Spanish school has over 100 iPads being introduced and looks for guidance in their curricular use. They are pioneering locally and therefore have looked further afield for support. In Germany inspections show that much technology is available, but as teachers do not readily use this in their personal lives, a gap exists in their capability to deliver lessons using unfamiliar equipment. In Norway a recent report suggests that pupils need more motivation for their studies and it is believed that technology can help in this area. The Welsh and Belgian schools have a good familiarity with introducing technology and can share their experiences with the other countries and at the same encourage their pupils to become active citizens in Europe.
In summary we have created a project which is centered around a series of 5 activities using recently available technologies and their respective software / hardware requirements. Our activities have the broad titles:
We intend to use these as the vehicle for delivering different aspects of the curriculum. Our target groups of teachers, student teachers and pupils will hopefully see an improvement in attainment whilst developing many Key Action 2 competences (School avoiders, entrepreneurship, linguistic skills, cross-sector cooperation, active citizenship, innovation).
The project is designed to have two main areas of influence: the introduction of new technologies in schools that currently do not have that present and to facilitate the embedding of these new technologies into the curriculum across the board, whether directly or as a follow-on effect. Three of the six schools participating have recently finished a Historical Comenius project which investigated our European Heritage. A considerable amount of ICT was used in this project which culminated in the creation of an iBook. Having seen the positive effect on pupils in this curriculum area it was a natural step to want to apply it throughout the curriculum. Pupils were easier to engage in their learning and attainment was generally of a higher standard – we consider this due to the interesting way in which ICT can be used to research/present/share information as well as the massive drive created by working with pupils across European borders.
We believe that when technology is used successfully students become more proactive allowing the best ones to advance faster and further. At the same time this allows classroom practitioners the time to nurture more demanding students. Our aim is to provide experiences and resources that do this across a broad curriculum for future use across the profession. By working as a collective of schools, from different cultures and methodologies, our teachers and pupils we can commit to delivering quality materials that are clear, right and complete.
Formation of the Group
Our group is a mixture of schools who have previously worked together, some in Comenius and E-twinning projects with others and one school which hasn’t participated in such an undertaking before. Wales, Belgium and Germany have recently completed a successful project studying our European Heritage which involved a considerable amount of ICT to create and share resources and product. We felt that we could explore this further by developing the use of technology further across the curriculum. Via e-twinning and and other networking we had a meeting in Valencia (October 2015) to further explore the possibility of a new project. An Erasmus seminar in Brussels introduced us to our Scandinavian colleagues and we have developed the project as a team since then. Prior to the meetings colleagues were asked to poll their pupils as to what aspects of the curriculum they found interesting, which mediums they enjoyed the most and how they might wish to work with pupils from schools in other countries.
During our meetings and via email conversations each country offered their thoughts and perspective. Strengths and needs of each school were discussed and the project planned accordingly. Some countries wished to develop their ICT curricula, shifting it into all subjects so that it is an embedded feature rather than a a standalone aspect. Belgium has a lot of experience in using technology in the classroom as does Wales. Both have website developers and good relations with Apple Technology solutions. The other countries are in the process of introducing iPad technology or, in the case of Spain, about to roll a large school-wide iPad infrastructure. All countries are clearly motivated with interested teachers that understand how a multicultural team will give a richer and more varied result. The project is also clearly seen as an opportunity for language development in all schools and we plan to feature this in much that we will do.
We decided on a modular route over the two years which makes it easier to designate task responsibilities to each country and provides a series of way-points that can be achieved and reflected upon regularly.
Germany: Responsible for minuting all meetings and writing report. Send a report of each meeting to every partner and stakeholder. Advise on matters for special needs pupils.
Belgium: Create the iBook using the materials produced by all schools during the project. Provide technical expertise to other countries on Web Quest / animation. Deputy Coordinator. Norway: Prepare press releases during project and provide journalistic experience. Assess the impact of the technology in the classroom. Responsible for entrepreneurship content.
Spain: Responsible for coordinating release and quality control of project materials so that shared with wider community.
Wales: Create and administer the website. Provide technical expertise to other countries on radio/TV/podcast . As coordinating country responsible for administration of project.
The project will contain six tasks and each country will be in charge of preparing one. These will be demonstrated at the meetings to be held every 3-4 months. The order of the transnational meetings is as follows:
M1 Germany Autumn 2016
M2 Belgium Spring 2017
M3 Norway Summer 2017
M4 Germany Autumn 2017
M5 Spain Spring 2018
M6 Wales Summer 2018
Coordinating Our Project
We will ensure an efficient and easy communication inside the project team and with the stakeholders by:
Exchanging email between the project team to propose or ask something and circulate the answers.
We will maintain a website to post news, help and advice for stakeholders in particular for the parents and our colleagues who are not directly involved in the project.
We will organise web conferences, via Skype, together between the project team, the children and some special guests, to prepare the meetings and to ensure follow up of the activities started during the country visits.
We will create a youtube channel and integrate it into the website to proved instruction and resources.
Every three to four months, we will hold a physical transnational meeting in a different country to:
Review the work done, reflect on and address any difficulties that have arisen.
Each partner has a task to present / demonstrate giving an opportunity to evaluate and modify before performing with pupils.
Verify quality of work presented.
Add work to iBook and Website for dissemination.
Engage with local school’s Journalist to raise publicity of Erasmus+.
Provide an opportunity for cross-pollination of pedagogies and team teaching.
Each partner school will embed the project activities into the existing school curriculum and school development plan. Cross-curricular links will be forged when teachers and pupils plan the lessons to meet the objectives of the project. The main focus will be developing the use of new technologies alongside current curriculum requirements, satisfying the needs of all learners across the scale.
Opportunities will be provided for rich and varied experiences for pupils to acquire, develop and apply various skills to enable pupils to think and respond in a creative manner. In order to ensure that all countries are actively involved we have agreed to divide the project into six stages. Each country has been given one stage and they will be responsible for the planning and preparation of the required teaching and learning materials. These materials will be assessed and distributed at the transnational meetings as appropriate. Completed tasks / findings will be discussed at transnational meetings before being shared out so that pupils in the other schools have a chance to make observations.
A1 Activity 1
Germany will prepare the initial stage involving proformas for initial pupil questioning and instruction on how to present collected data. Pupils’ findings will be entered into the first chapter of the iBook by pupils. ICT, languages and numeracy are key competencies. This stage will allow pupils to introduce themselves to participants in partner schools whilst at the same time experience using new software and technologies.
A2 Activity 2
Belgium will create the second stage. The activity will be based around the use of stop motion technology to reflect an aspect of the curriculum. The videos will be presented in English and subtitled in the language of the creating country (In Wales the language will be French which is taught at Year 6). It is intended that the curricular area reflects an aspect of inter-cultural awareness or active citizenship. Basic and linguistic skills will be strengthened.
A3 Activity 3
Wales will be responsible for providing the pedagogical materials for our Webquest / Journalist activity. Pupils will undertake a Webquest at a suitable level. The results of this quest will be written up as a newspaper article for publishing. We will endeavour to work with a local journalist and again literacy, language and ICT / media skills will be needed.
A4 Activity 4
Norway will provide the materials required to carry out an entrepreneur challenge. The intention is that pupils create a business supported by an outside company. They will obtain sponsorship and advice to turn a loan into profit. Technology can be used to manufacture and promote the business. Spreadsheets will be used to support numeracy.
A5 Activity 5
Spain will arrange this activity which will attempt to get pupils into politics. Using a radio interview situation they will compare and contrast the opinions of peers to those of a politician or local decision maker. They will use a current event such as the refugee crisis as the mainstay of the debate.
A6 Activity 6
Wales will prepare the materials for the media broadcast activity. Pupils will choose TV/Radio/Podcast to highlight an aspect of the curriculum or school life. They will engage with an outside body e.g. TV station to help facilitate this. ICT will be used to prepare storyboards, scripts etc. This will promote literacy and oracy.
Project Impact Measuring
Develop their critical thinking. Improved motivation thanks to interactive technology appealing to all learners especially students who are prone to dropping out of school. Improved ICT skills needed in a modern workforce. Improved English and Numeracy skills through working with their European partners Encourage collaboration between pupils with a wide range of learning and physical abilities. Removal of fearful perceptions about other cultures. Entrepreneurial skills developed at a young age. Become more active European citizens. Allow personal growth and development of all during children’s most formative years by providing access to a variety of creative forms of self expression. Encourage respect and tolerance whilst promoting the importance of building a sense of common belonging.
Understand and compare each country’s educational system and socio-cultural situations. Increased acceptance of migrant families into communities. Share good practice amongst teachers and enhance continual professional development. Benefit from an international network of practising teachers. Staff will learn to compromise but lead strongly. Develop new ideas and teaching and learning strategies. Improved professional competence, e.g. reflecting on their teaching methodology.
Impact on participating organisations and relevant stakeholders: Schools will have got more qualified teachers through applying the created innovative teaching methods. Discover a new way to learn, communicate and share information Improved cooperation with teachers and students. Make Europe something more concrete for parents, local authorities and colleagues. Activities within the project will result in the creation of education resources which can be used by partner school or other institutions in the future. Closer links to business community. Value for money in technological investment.
The desired impact of the project at a local level is: Improved standards in attainment across the curriculum and especially the key skills. The European factor in education will have strengthened at a time when current events are causing a strain. The quality of teaching will have improved by making teaching methods and learning opportunities more attractive to students. New technology embedded in curriculum with value.
The desired impact of the project at the regional and national level is: An informative website and iBook reflecting our project and providing a series of innovative tools for the use of other teachers across Europe. Schools participating will become beacon schools – role models and advisors to neighbouring education establishments.
The desired impact of the project at the European level is: European languages will be promoted Best practice shared across national barriers.English | Español | Français | Deutsch | Norsk