The project idea was to have several different European countries (the U.K., Georgia, Romania, France, Latvia, Spain, Poland and Finland) working together to create a “happy families” card game in English. The project was meant as a short European cultural exchange (from September 2019 to December 2019), developing skills and playing games, by having students learn about other European countries while using English. The project aimed at developing students’ skills while learning about the location/borders/flags of some European countries, introducing themselves in English, designing projects for the European Day of Languages learning about different symbols/landmarks of the partner countries and having a Christmas cards exchange in December and a logo contest at the end.
Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity
I have adapted my educational objectives and pedagogical approaches depending on the stage of the project and the tasks students had to fulfill. At the beginning of the project, students had to work in small groups. Each group had to find the location of a partner country on the map. One spokesperson of each group wrote the name of the country on a piece of paper and stuck it on the map where the country was for everybody to see the location of the partner countries. Students had to work individually to introduce themselves, drew nice pictures standing for their hobbies or favourite free time activities. Students have also done a group research to design projects for the European Day of Languages, each member of the group telling the class about the partner countries (language, borders, landmarks, symbols).
Integrating the project into the existing curriculum was rather easy since I teach English, also following a multidisciplinary approach. First of all, it was a great chance to recycle countries and nationalities in English. The vocabulary related to geography was also easily integrated, making use of cardinal points, borders, neighbouring countries, names of seas, straits, words connected with travel, weather and nature etc. Grammar was also integrated by using comparatives and superlatives when talking about the climate(e.g. hotter, warmer, cooler, colder, the coldest etc) ,the weather conditions, the size of the country, the number of the people living in the European partner countries. When students had to introduce themselves, they reactivated their physical appearance and personality vocabulary, talked about their hobbies, favourite sports and other past-time activities, also mentioning the seasons when they can best do what they like. They have also talked about their family members, using structures as ” There are four of us in our family…”, or „I’m an only child.” Art has also been integrated since students have created logos or handmade Christmas cards.
I have created an appropriate learning environment and caught my students’ interest and attention with some different strategies, integrating the project in the teaching/learning process. Communication and collaboration in teams were the main aims of the activities designed during the project. I have also tried to develop skills like leadership and responsibility by choosing a spokesperson to represent the group, but the organizational skills have not been omitted. Creativity was encouraged, giving my students the chance to design handmade logos and postcards.
Collaboration between partner schools
Me and my partners collaborated in all stages of the project: since the early stages of selection of the partner countries, to any clarifications we needed, to the last phases of the project, each country has been delighted to contribute to the development of this European cultural exchange, accomplishing the tasks, getting the students involved and sharing information with the partner countries in My twinspace. The information transfer has been done by having students shown the videos posted by the partner countries.
By locating the partner countries on the map, students have virtually travelled around Europe, easily and pleasantly learning the location of other European countries and cultures. Students have improved their communicative skills by writing their personal profile and introducing themselves to the partners. Pupils have also gained knowledge by designing school projects for the European Day of Languages, thus practising integrated skills (designing the project itself, looking for the appropriate information, developing writing, reading and speaking skills in English). Pupils have also learnt about the flags of the countries by playing games and created representative logos.
Use of technology
The internet was the „meeting” place of the project partner countries. Different apps were used to design logos, to easily find the location of the countries, to find information about flags, borders, symbols, to introduce ourselves, using My Twin Space as a tool which facilitates our communication and collaboration, a place where we share our ideas, our work, our presentations, our videos, our projects etc. Without the support of technological development, we couldn’t have easily shared our cultural inheritance to other countries which are ready to embrace the riches of other nations.
Results and impact
First of all, my school benefited from this project at a larger scale, contributing to the development of the educational system in Romania. Students in my school are delighted to be part of a European project. There is a great opportunity for schools to be partners with other European countries, to share the same educational goals, to look for the benefits of the students and align to the European standards of quality education, making use of some modern approaches in education.
What I personally regard as the most successful result of this project is that now my students are more conscious of their cultural awareness, happier to know they are part of a larger student community at a European level and they might share the same ideals and goals as some of their European peers.
I kept in touch with the partners and shared information and ideas. I guided my students’ work and activities during the project, constantly showing them the general progression. I offered them the chance to be part of a larger European family and play, learn and have fun in English, at the same time recycling the information they have previously acquired and learning new things about different cultures.