Water is the star in Waterpedia - The elixir of life
Title: Waterpedia - The elixir of life
Educational level: Post compulsory secondary education
We all know that water plays an essential role in life, and that the scarcity of this resource is more critical every day not only because of natural causes but also because of the action of mankind. This is a topic which attracts a great deal of attention in contemporary society.
For these reasons and because water is a permanent presence in our lives, the students of two English classes in the first year of post compulsory secondary education in the Institut Monserrat (Barcelona) school and their partners in the Gymnasium Luckenwalde (Germany) school took part in such an active and enthusiastic way in the project Waterpedia - The elixir of life.
The main objectives included improving their competencies in the English language communicating in real life with their German partners and increasing their knowledge on the extensive subject of water, as well as getting to know other cultures. Their tasks included doing some precise research work on the constant presence of water in aspects of daily life, beyond their own consumption and the impact that this resources has on the students' lives day after day.
To carry out this comprehensive interdisciplinary task, the Spanish teacher Nuria Batlle and the German teacher Kathrin Fritsche set to work to establish the bases of the project. They did not have too many difficulties, as in Nuria's own words “Kathrin Fritsche and I have worked together since 2007 and we have already shared many other exchanges and projects, including four eTwinning projects. This relatively long experience created a high degree of understanding and sensitivity towards the "other partner" which undoubtedly resulted in greater effectiveness and speed when designing and developing the project”. The initial willingness of both teachers to participate and the collaboration and coordination between them which characterized the whole process of planning and developing the activities, has been one of the keys to the success of the project. In this line of thought Nuria confirms that another aspect which has made a considerable contribution has been “the efficient combination of several very productive ideas: building knowledge, using ICTs, organizing an exchange with students from a foreign country using English as the Lingua Franca and the active participation and involvement of the students”.
But what has the project consisted of? The students from one school, after the first contact with their partners using an introductory activity in the TwinSpace, formed pairs which were then part of mixed nationality groups. In these groups 4 or 6 Spaniards or Germans had to agree on which concrete aspects of water they would investigate within the specific topic which they had been assigned: the presence of water in art, in the environment, in the language, in the literature and its role to foment tourism. One of the most collaborative tools of the TwinSpace: the wiki was chosen so that they could keep in contact and work in a team on these topics, and five pages of activities were created, one for each of the chosen topics. Nuria thinks that “it was the right choice because it allowed them to share contents in different workshops which clearly structured the contents and helped them to share them and comment on them”. The students identified elements in art related to water, debated about it as a scarce element, looked for expressions and sayings connected to it and emphasized its value as a tourist resource. The results of these investigations were shown in videos, audio recordings, images and presentations. Crosswords, mental maps, presentations, editorials, etc. complete the variety of activities carried out.
The Spanish students also sent questionnaires on the ecological footprint to their German partners and vice versa, and the results were subsequently interpreted in graphs to analyze and compare the different environmental conscience which existed in their respective countries.
Material of a high quality which is the result of an authentic collaborative project, undoubtedly encouraged by the role played by the wiki in the TwinSpace which offered a work space that permitted contributing to and managing the contents simultaneously and in real time; a platform that has propitiated communications among the students, debate and the bringing together of different ideas. It doesn't just show the tangible results of the project - which by the way are presented in a clear and orderly fashion - but it also shows how the interaction and communications came about among the students.
What has this project meant to the students, the genuine protagonists of this collaborative adventure? The multidisciplinary nature of the project has contributed to broadening the horizons of the students and of course, to improving their oral and written expression in English. They have been able to interpret different forms of artistic manifestations, study the semantics of the term "water" and become aware of the effects of water on life and human civilization and its different uses. Nuria Batlle emphasizes that “the students that participated in the project became totally involved in Waterpedia and did some excellent work in the different areas, as well as commenting and responding well to the work of their Partner teams. Their work permitted them to delve deeper into their own culture and learn new aspects that they had not previously known, at the same time as learning a lot about German culture. As the project Lingua Franca was English, their competence in this language improved considerably”.
And the students, what do they think about their participation in the project? Statements like "this project not only represented a topic to think about, but it also motivated us to look more deeply into our customs and the environment in which we live” (Julia Tercero and María Estrada) or “Waterpedia has helped us to understand the German culture and has been an experience in which, using English, we have carried out some very interesting and pedagogical activities” (Byron Izcara and Hi-Kwei Ly), come from students who as well as feeling proud of having taken part in the project, consider it “a gratifying experience” and a “great idea”.
The fact is that Waterpedia has been “an innovative educational project, the result of the coming together of many initiatives, ideas and, above all, people who have collaborated and worked together to bring it to a successful conclusion” which has totally deserved the 2012 eTwinning National Prize that it was awarded.
eTwinning Awards 2012
- Carpe Nuntium: voilà nuestra "FrItalianza" and learn Spanish
- Make full use of the Internet but "don't get caught in the net"
- Water is the star in Waterpedia - The elixir of life
- The hole puncher: VET learning and practice
- Family Lab, teaching and learning values
- Nos encontramos en el camino - We'll meet on the road
- Annual eTwinning Conference 2012: European award ceremony
- Entrega de Premios nacionales eTwinning 2012
- Live Broadcast National Awards eTwinning 2012 and European Annual Conference
- A Taste of Maths (ATOM), who says no to a sweet?
- The challenge of reading. Europe:Reading is also the future
- Study, practise and teach ICTs with ICT4U
- GOAL! Go outside and learn, real Maths
- Travelling creativity in 'Art on the Move'
- Ganadores de los Premios Nacionales eTwinning 2012