The social dynamics of the last decades bring before the contemporary world a series of challenges to which the field of education cannot remain indifferent. The skills, values and attitudes that students need for personal and social success cannot be formed entirely through classical school subjects (Transdisciplinaritatea, 2008). In order to bring the educational process closer to the daily life of the students and the needs of the community in which they live, pupils should be involved in activities that have meaning beyond the classroom or school.
Project-based learning is one of the most liked methods by students because this method engages students in problem-solving activities using web resources and tools, and results in creative learning products. Teachers can use different platforms and web tools to actively involve students to carry out investigations, do research, and solve a problem, all these leading to the development of key competences.
In the National Curriculum key competences are “an important curricular category with a high degree of generalization, which concerns society’s expectations in regard to the course of studies and the most general performance objectives which students should achieve by the end of their schooling. These reflect the tendencies in both national education policies, reflected in the Education Code (2014), and international policies, stipulated in the Recommendations of the European Commission (2018).”
According to Education Code of the Republic of Moldova, art. 11, paragraph (2), education aims the formation of the following key competences:
a) competences of communication in Romanian;
b) competences of communication in mother tongue;
c) competences of communication in foreign languages;
d) competences in mathematics, sciences and technology;
e) digital competences;
f) competence of learning to learn;
g) social and civic competences;
h) entrepreneurial competences and spirit of initiative;
i) competences of cultural expression and awareness of cultural values.
In this article, I describe my experience in the cross-border project „Grateful Hearts„, carried out in the first semester of this academic year, during which my pupils developed key competences.
The event brought together 64 students from 2 schools: ”Gaudeamus” Public Institution Theoretical Lyceum, Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova and ”Dimitrie Cantemir” Secondary School, Baia Mare, Romania. The age of the involved students was 12-14 years.
The project’s purpose was to create a partnership and exchange experience between institutions in the online environment, stimulating the linguistic potential of students by organizing and conducting educational activities that lead to the understanding of linguistic, cultural diversity, and the development of key competences.
The key competences that were developed during this project are: the competences of communication in a foreign language; the digital competences; the competence of learning to learn; the social and civic competences; the competence of cultural expression and awareness of social and cultural values.
The project was carried out in 6 stages.
In the first stage of the project, „Virtual Hello”, the students made a PowerPoint presentation about the country they live in, the city they are from, and the school they study in. A Padlet page was also completed where students introduced themselves by posting photos and information about their interests to get acquainted with the pupils from abroad. Later the link to the Padlet page was sent to the team of students from the partner school. During the same period, students from each team created 3 project logos, using digital tools such as Canva, PowerPoint, and analog tools.
During the next stage, the first virtual meeting, „Let’s Get Acquainted”, held through Google Meet, the students presented the products they made: the PowerPoint presentation, and the logos, and asked each other questions to know each other better. They then voted on the project’s logo in Google Forms, following the rule of not voting on the logo created by their school. The winning logo became one of the logos created by the students of the 6th class, which became the logo of the „Grateful Hearts” project.
In the 3rd stage, „Research Stage”, students watched videos about the history of Thanksgiving and its celebration in the USA and Canada, read articles about this holiday, and participated in a public lesson presented by me about Thanksgiving Day. Later, they created a digital book in Storyjumper dedicated to the same holiday, afterward sending it to their partners from abroad.
During the 4th stage of the project, „Research-based Action Stage”, on Thanksgiving Day in the USA, the 6th-grade students greeted their teachers and peers in English, handing them messages of gratitude. On the same day, an exhibition of hand-made products was organized through which students expressed their gratitude to teachers, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends. Then the students learned a song about gratitude and composed and recorded a skit dedicated to Thanksgiving Day. Because Thanksgiving also involves generosity, the students collected food and hygiene items for socially vulnerable families.
In the collaboration stage, „The Benefits of Gratitude”, the most loved by the students, transnational teams of 4 students were formed. The students made a common digital poster in Canva about the benefits of gratitude, and at the 2nd virtual meeting the posters were presented and the knowledge gained in the research and collaboration stages was evaluated via Kahoot. The first 2 places were won by the students from Moldova.
During the last project stage, the reflection stage, ”Thanksgiving in Poems, Songs and Skits”, the 3rd online session took place, during which the students celebrated the end of the project, reciting poems, singing songs, presenting the recorded skit to the team from abroad. Afterward, they shared their views on the project using the Mentimeter app and presented the pages created in Canva and PowerPoint with their impressions of the project they were involved in. Finally, students were assessed through Testmoz to determine the level of knowledge gained in the project.
“Grateful Hearts” project was carried out in the blended learning system, which favored the optimal development of key competences. By reading articles and watching movies about Thanksgiving Day, communicating in English with the pupils from abroad, presenting the products in English, by playing a skit using the English language students developed competences of communication in English.
Students’ digital competences were improved by using PowerPoint, learning how to work in Canva, Padlet, and Storyjumper, by using Google Forms to vote the project logo, and Kahoot and Testmoz to assess their knowledge.
The competence of learning to learn was also developed, as students were motivated and took responsibility for their own learning by presenting the qualitative products on time.
By collaborating in national and transnational teams, collecting food and hygiene items for families in need, and learning about the benefits of being grateful, students developed social and civic competences.
The competence of cultural expression and awareness of social and cultural values was developed via searching and learning about Thanksgiving Day, via making products expressing gratitude towards teachers, parents, friends, sisters, and brothers, via role-playing a skit, and via learning a song and poems about Thanksgiving Day.
This cross-border project was the first of its kind as a teaching experience, and learning outcomes were beneficial for both the students and teachers. It was a good collaborative project and the methods and strategies used in it can be applied to many English learning activities. Students were allowed to design the content of the communication themselves, starting from the first part of the project. Verbal means of communication were used, which combined with audio and visual means led to wonderful activities for the students. As a teacher, I have learned that through the project method, creative ideas, and a clear pedagogical technology, teaching-learning-evaluation becomes fun, students develop core skills, and technology can be the friend number one in the learning process, not the student’s enemy.
1) Codul educației al Republicii Moldova, 2014. Disponibil: www.legis.md/cautare/getResults?doc_id=110112&lang=ro
2) Munca-Aftenev D., Afanas A., Bacalâm A. etc. Curriculum Național. Limba Străină, Chișinău, 2020
3) Prunici M., Realizarea transdisciplinarității în procesul educațional la geografie, biologie, chimie și fizică, Chișinău, 2020, (accesat 02.febr. 2023). Disponibil: ibn.idsi.md/sites/default/files/imag_file/88-93_12.pdf
4) Transdisciplinaritatea – o nouă abordare a învățării, articol publicat in Revista Didactica Nr. 2, noiembrie, 2008, (accesat 31 ianuarie 2023) Disponibil: www.creeaza.com/didactica/didactica-pedagogie/TRANSDISCIPLINARITATEA-O-NOUA-417.php
5) What are Key Competences?, (accesat 28 ianuarie 2023). Disponibil: www.taskeuproject.com/the-tool/the-tool-en/what-are-key-competences/