eTwinning Project “Music for positive thoughts” was developed during the schools’ closure due to Global Pandemic of the Corona Virus. It represented a chance for me to continue teaching and for the children to continue learning from home. The project was based on improving students’ skills on personal, social, emotional and cultural level. Through music, children discovered a new way to develop learning activities, which made them more interesting and attractive.
This partnership included 5 countries and 14 teachers from Romania, Turkey, Portugal, Jordan and Bulgaria. The project’s aims where: express feelings and emotions through music; generate a positive perception and make learning more pleasant; develop imagination, creativity and raise self-confidence, listening and understanding; improve the capability of memorizing and concentration. Project’s activities were various, attractive and interesting. International days were celebrated with music. Common products produced: videos, e-books, a song, a virtual exhibition.
The pupils in my class were about 6 years old. They have always been eager to learn new things, to engage in different activities that stimulated their active participation, creativity, communication and an interactive collaboration. This project highlighted music as a connection between all types of kindergarten activities: science, sports, art&craft, games, language and communication, social activities. The educational objectives of the project have been fulfilled, as a great variety of activities have been held. I do believe innovation is an essential element of teaching in the 21st century, therefore the methods and the approaches I used with my pupils were: gamification – learning while playing games and developing collaboration and competition; computational thinking – a coding activity was included in the project which led to problem-solving, logical thinking, learning to learn (Code for Music); experiential learning – activities such as outdoor learning, playing, dancing, doing physical exercises in nature were held through active experience, observation, education for sustainable development; embodied learning- helped pupils connect to all social, emotional, artistic activities by developing creativity, curiosity and sensibility; discussion based learning – helped pupils develop cultural and critical capacities. My students were the very center of this project, they learned to have own autonomy, to be more realistic, independent, responsible, to show enthusiasm. They worked in a transnational team with the pupils from a school in Turkey to develop a climate change story. This collaboration was benefic for them, as they communicated in English, being helped by their parents and myself. I adapted each activity of the project for the students’ age, communicated the topic, but the presentation mode belonged to the pupils’, this way the pupils were let to take decisions, research, analyze, be creative and deliver the activity in their own manner & approach.
The project’s activities were designed to be easily integrated into everyday activities, in according to the pedagogical programmes, although they were remotely done from home. Students attended different types of activities once a week, during March-June 2020, while schools were closed due to the World Pandemic situation. All activities were suitable to transmit information using different teaching techniques: drawing, painting, art&craft, participating in social strategies games, watching educational videos on Youtube and other educational platforms. The project implied a multidisciplinary approach. In Language and Communication, we discussed via Zoom about all the project’s activities, games were played, we learned simple words in English. In Science, discussions were about all project’s topics and also educational videos were watched for a better understanding. In Art & Craft activities, children painted, drew, cropped colored papers, glued, hand-painted. In Music, children sang songs and learned songs in English. Physical Education was also blended with music, so that students could dance and do exercises. A practical activity was done while cooking simple meals with music. For the climate changes story, 3 students we able to produce 3 posters, for which they remembered the information from kindergarten, as we held such lessons. Key competences were achieved: communication in mother tongue, communication in a foreign language, digital competences, social and civic, initiative, sensitivity & cultural expression. Students developed skills which are most needed: collaboration, communication and problem-solving, acquired mostly through social and emotional learning. Pupils developed their way of thinking through creativity, innovation, critical-thinking, problem-solving, learning to learn; their ways of working improved through communication, collaboration, teamwork, ICT literacy. Children’s life and personal’s skills as well as social responsibility increased.
There is no doubt that during these times, collaborative teaching & learning were the new future. Adaptable & dynamic collaborative communication has ensured a collaborative working process during this project. Tasks were distributed between partners and mine were: tasks adapting, eTw live event, collaborate in developing the virtual exhibition, climate change e-book, project’s timeline visual story.
Collaboration has been a continuous process, all the project’s common products outline each partner’s interest in developing a cohesion, recognition & valuing the contribution of all project’s members. All partners cooperated in developing content to deliver joint products: Let’s twist again/ National Costumes/ Europe Day/ e-Twinning Day/ Music in my country/ The land of Music story/ Art Visual Exhibition/ I hear you, Climate!.
In order to develop the climate changes book, 7 transnational teams were made (2 teachers + 3 kids from each one). For this, a super great online meeting via zoom was held, so that children could know themselves, talk and exchange ideas, watch video materials for the story and the visual pictures needed in the story. I was happy my 3 students wanted to attend the meeting with foreign students. Since my pupils were very young, they did not attend online meetings, as due to various reasons, not all the pupils responded to online tasks as they would have as in the classroom. The Turkish partner delivered the story “Sometimes it’s all about magic” and my students did an art&craft activity at home, delivering 3 visual images representing the story (https://youtu.be/Bq3gUqQ_BrI).
The students were engaged in all project’s activities and enjoyed working, learning & having fun: painting, drawing, dancing, singing, art & craft. Pictures and videos were made with parents’ help and using a great variety of web2.0 tools, the final products came to life. Final products are expected to become teaching resources for future in class activities, and to be shared with my colleagues in kindergarten.
Since this project was implemented during the stay-at-home period, I spent time to research more about web 2.0 tools which facilitated my teaching and made learning more easy and fun. I used technology before in teaching, but not at this level, never was that experienced with digital tools. So, this was a great opportunity for me provided by the project. We used Blogger to make a blog, Flipsnack, StoryJumper, Book Creator to make ebooks, Google Slides & Docs for presentations, MeetingWords for the music story, Padlet, Kahoot to play interactive games, Jigsaw Planet for online puzzles, Tricider for voting on art competition, Vimeo & YouTube for uploading videos; VivaVideo, PowerDirector, InShot, KineMaster, Quik, VideoShow, Animoto to do videos; Adobe Connect, Zoom for online meetings; PicCollage, PhotoCollage, PosterMaker, ChatterKids to enrich photos; ArtSteps for the virtual exhibition.
Since my students were very young, 6 years old, they used technology under parental supervision. We met on Zoom, played on Jigsaw, saw videos on YouTube. Also, because of their age, my students have not been registered in Twinspace.
E-security issues have been considered all time during project’s implementation. I have hid my students’ faces with emojis, their names haven’t been displayed. I have used pictures from the internet from open sources such as Clipart; my videos have been uploaded as unlisted on youtube. My students were aware of basic e-safety rules, as me & my class were part of a national programme “Ora de net” developed with “Save the Children” Romania, and we have held activities on such topics.
Regarding project’s impact, I do believe that my pupils became more confident, their creativity, independency, communication have been so improved.
I have been proud to work in such a great international team of teachers, knowing different perspectives on educational topics, I have improved my ICT, my social skills, my teaching skills, as we have taken collaboration to the next level.
The project objectives were fulfilled: students’ motivation in learning increased; through music, learning became more fun; they expressed feelings and emotions through music when singing and playing instruments; they developed imagination & creativity while drawing, painting, art&craft; they raised their confidence, discipline, listening & understanding while being in online meetings; they worked in collaboration with other kids; social & personal skills were enhanced through the exchange of cultural experiences.
Evaluation was a great instrument to check out the project’s progress & to know were mistakes needed analyze and lessons to be learned. Although my kids are very young, I did oral evaluations each time I met with them and the parents on my weekly zoom. I have uploaded a file containing my evaluation as a teacher & project member in Twinspace. Also, evaluation has been done through quizzes, surveys and the results are uploaded. My kids’ parents were very delighted by this opportunity provided during the lockdown.
Dissemination was a major aspect of the project and I used both social media and the Romanian Ministry of Education Forum to proudly present the project. I am part of many social media groups, I have released a lot of videos there and by the number of Likes & Comments I can say that the impact on viewers was great. Also, the project’s blog and the Project’s Timeline Visual Story (https://youtu.be/7WHBBGWNnKQ) have been perfect dissemination instruments to let everyone else know how our project has been implemented.
My very best own contribution to this project was the idea, which eventually turned into my task, of developing the project’s timeline visual story. Meaning I had to select and put together a short video presenting pieces of the project to outline the work of all included partners during the project’s implementation. 10 weeks of hard work turned out into a 13 minutes video. The video was released in social media and the Romanian Education Ministry’s Forum and education websites and its impact and feedback was great.
Since I am a member of CodeWeek community, I proposed my partners to link the project with a coding event. For this reason, I organized an online event in the eTwinning Platform, hold a presentation about coding and also developed the working sheet with the project’s title for the partners to share with their students and register their activities on the CodeWeek Map. All of our activities have been approved, and CodeWeek Romania promoted it on social network as an example of good practice.
I can also note that my idea of translating the ebook “I hear you, Climate! I am the Change” (https://www.flipsnack.com/nicobarbu/i-hear-you-climate-i-am-the-change.html , https://www.flipsnack.com/nicobarbu/i-hear-you-climate-i-am-the-change-7u8o5mprzp.html)was unanimously approved by all partners and it became another ebook consisting of 2 parts, which will develop into a good curricular instrument in teaching about climate changes.
Communication with all partners was great. Although we were not teaching at the same levels, we became friends, we helped each other and shared a lot of good practices.
For the outstanding activities implemented during this project, I have been awarded with National Quality Label, European Quality Label and together with Elena Corina Rogoveanu have won the first prize at eTwinning Romania National Prizes Competition 2020, for “Schools in Rural Areas” section.