The challenge of reading. Europe:Reading is also the future
Title: Europe: Reading is also the Future – Europa: La Lettura è anche il Futuro – Europa: La Lectura también es el Futuro.
Educational stage: Infant
"Europe: Reading is also the Future" is the sixth collaboration project led by the Tremañes Infant and Primary Education School in Gijón and their friends from the Scuola dell’Infanzzia Opera de Noverasco di Opera, in Milan, Italy.
In order to awaken the creativity of the Infant education pupils who were taking part in this project, two innovative ideas were used: starting up a campaign to encourage reading in Europe and developing a collaborative workshop to work on literary creation.
In addition to these main goals, the partner teachers integrated and connected the main symbols and values of the European Union with the activities carried out about reading. This is why almost all 70 pupils aged 4 to 5 became familiar with the European Union through the project logo and the European Union anthem, played on the recorder by a group of Primary pupils and then used as the background music to their videos. As the participating teachers say, the project attempts to transmit the concept of a Europe that is 'united in diversity' and is inspired by sources such as: "By reading we can become peers of all men and citizens from all countries." (Ode, XV, à l’Académie française).
The project has been fantastically planned and pays close attention to the stages, the activities to be completed, the contents to be generated and the methodology to be used. Obviously, there is good communication and coordination between both schools. After carrying out six eTwinning projects jointly, Italian and Spanish teachers have become a team with a strong cooperation and coordination spirit.
The journey in the world of reading starts with the creation of mixed-nationality teams. This idea was materialised in a very creative way through the figure of the “correspondent”: boys and girls from Tremañes had one or more “correspondents” of the same age in Noverasco. And what could be a better way to meet than through a videoconference? For many of them, it was their first approach to the world of ICTs, so teachers practised several times beforehand to make sure that pupils felt comfortable and relaxed when they met their new friends.
In the TwinSpace blog, primary teacher Mariano Suárez, one of the members of the teaching staff at Tremañes Infant and Primary School, spoke about the meeting: “we just wish to point out how the use of ICTs has changed the form and content of these children’s participation in eTwinning projects. Having their first videconference has meant for them the discovery of a new way to communicate, but it has also allowed them to make their Italian partners into more realistic “characters”. It was a great idea to pair up partners, as they develop friendships and that makes it all more realistic; the entire group is friends with all the Italian partners, but theirs is the best friend in the world. To sum up, an amazing experience.”
The teacher’s enthusiasm has been transmitted to the pupils. Let’s see what some of them think about the videoconference; from Tremañes, Sergio confessed that “what I liked best was to speak to my friend Cristian. I could see him on my computer, on the screen”, whereas from Noveresco, Cristian says: “I have seen my friend Sergio, he is very handsome. I wanted to speak for longer, but my teacher interrupted us…I looked for Sergio in the classroom next door, but he wasn’t there. My teacher explained that Sergio is really far away but that through the computer I can see him and talk to him. I have seen Tremañes on the map…it’s very far!”.
During the first stage of the publicity campaign to encourage reading in Europe, Spanish and Italian Twinners chose to make some photo posters promoting books and reading. A clever idea to trigger creativity in girls and boys, who this way become familiar with team work. Within the pairs or small groups created before, each child sent his/her partner a short sentence explaining why it is important to read or a reason to enjoy books. After that, in class they worked on the sentences sent by the partners until they were translated in 70 posters, with the aim to encourage even more people to read. Making these posters has given the children the chance to learn to respect and work with their partners’ ideas, travel around the magical world of libraries to choose the best book for their poster and enter the world of photography. Let’s watch the story of a poster to promote reading:
In the second stage of the publicity campaign, our stars from Tremañes and Noveresco become story writers in the virtual collaborative workshop for literary creation; their stories are then published in a digital book. New technologies support them in this literary adventure. The innovative technique chosen by the teachers is called “Bit-stories”; you start with 112 “bits” or stimulating images, out of which they must choose only seven (2 characters, 1 landscape, 1 animal, 1 vehicle and 2 objects). The literary creation workshop started like this: one class started the story and sent it to its partner team, who continued it and returned it; once the story was received, the class that had started it imagined two possible endings; then the partners chose one of them, as well as a title for the story.
Children from both countries were very excited to have the freedom to create their own story; this also triggered their imagination, as once the story was ready, boys and girls also made their original drawings to illustrate them. The finished stories were then published in digital format. In order to materalise their artistic ideas, teachers suggested using FlockDraw, which is a tool that can be used in two ways: drawing and colouring individually or in groups from different computers, or drawing in real time with their partners using a shared digital whiteboard, while you chat and talk about the work you are doing. This project has made the most of both options. On the one hand, stories have two possible drawings, as each team did their own. On the other hand, 4-year teachers chose to make the cover of their digital book using collaborative methodology, thus ensuring that children held their virtual meeting with their partners and let their imagination go as they drew with FlockDraw.
The teachers made sure that the digital book included both the Spanish and Italian versions, so that the finished product was a bilingual story book. Let’s watch part of the joint work of two pupils in Calaméo:
The educational community has been involved in the project right from the start. The families of Infant pupils were informed periodically by letter on the development of the project and the activities their children were involved in, as well as other activities they could do themselves to participate in the project (attend the poster exhibition, borrow a book from the library, etc.). They could also keep themselves updated on the progress of the project on the blog Hablamos de literatura infantil, (Let’s talk about children’s literature), where they participated very actively by publishing their comments to the posts.
The project was completed with an exhibition of the posters promoting reading in the libraries of both cities, in various languages. The opening ceremony was attended by the pupils who made the posters and their families, the teachers in charge of this eTwinning project, the headmaster of the school in Tremañes, the manager of the City Library of La Calzada, the eTwinning project manager in Asturias, etc. For the older ones, the exhibition was a real surprise, as they could see that children who can’t write or read very well yet can still feel through their innocence the value of reading and books. On the other hand, for the younger ones, they could see they can express their opinions in an adult world and that their work is shown in adult contexts (the library, local papers, the blog): an amazing experience indeed.
Once the project was completed, pupils from Tremañes and Noverasco – who are now friends – said their goodbyes in the same way they started their daring adventure in the world of books: through a videoconference.
Meeting other European pupils with different cultures and languages, working collaboratively, learning to appreciate and practise with other people's ideas, sharing opinions, feelings and experiences, bonding with pupils and teachers from different countries, and doing all this using ICTs has been the key to the success of this eTwinning project. Teacher Mariano Suárez gave us his opinion: "Something special to mention about this project? It is hard to say, but if I have to maybe I'll choose two surprises that these 4 and 5-year-old "rascals" gave me. I was surprised to see how easy and exciting it was for them to work in mixed international teams, assuming and developing their partners' ideas. I was also really satisfied about their approach to new ICT tools: Skype for their first videoconferences and FlockDraw on the digital whiteboard for collaborative drawing. This means capacity to work in teams and long-distance, and capacity for communication and creation through ICTs. What else can we ask for? The future is theirs and - at some point in their lives - eTwinning helped them find it. Thank you, eTwinning."
Learn more about the project and all the resulting materials on the following links:
Blog Hablamos de Literatura Infantil (Let's talk about children's literature): http://infantiltremanes.wordpress.com/europe-reading-is-also-the-future-etwinning-project/
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