Saturday, 2 January 2016

2014 Projects (a long overdue report)

Another year full of projects that got most of the students at the institute involved in fruitful interaction with peers around the world. 

Our cross-cultural projects coordinator, Prof. Verónica Maser, set up mail exchanges using ePals, a community of collaborative classrooms. After spending some time writing to each other, students usually got the chance to meet live via Skype, and each of these encounters proved to be an unforgettable experience for all those involved. 

So, come and see what we were up to in 2014!

3rd Adults with students from Lone Tree, Iowa

This exchange allowed our students to get in touch with students from a rural school, a totally enriching and charming experience that opened their minds to a different reality and way of life. Many thanks to our teachers Gisela and Magalí, and to Ms Christy Weitz in Iowa

6th Adol and 5th Adults with students from Dixon High School, Illinois

Ms Wendy Fitzanko (Dixon), Ms Susana (6th adol) and Ms Verónica (5th adults) worked very hard to get everything ready to go when the American students came back from their holidays. Needless to say, everybody had lots of fun and learned tons in the process.

4th and 5th Adol students with students from Milton Middle/High School (Vermont, USA)

For this project, our teachers Natalia, Ivana and Verónica worked together with Ms Angela King to give their students the chance to make the most of this experience. 

2nd, 3rd, and 4th Adol with students from Platteview High School, Nebraska

Lovely project that involved younger students, who profitted enourmously from this exchange. Huge thanks to their teachers Daniela and Magalí and their colleague Laura Hilkermann in Nebraska.

6th Adol with students from North Valleys High School, Reno, Nevada

Ms Susana and Ms Verónica worked collaboratively with Ms Christie Loar to make this project a success. We had already had the pleasure of sharing projects with Ms Christie in 2013, so it was great to renew the partnership.

4th Adol and students at Pella Community High School, Iowa, US

Ms Verónica (4th Adol) and Ms Paloma Soria (Iowa) paired up their students and accompanied them in an enriching exchange of mails, photos and stories.

2nd kids, 3rd kids, 4th kids, 2nd adol and 3rd adol with Greece Odyssey Academy, Rochester, New York

For this super project,  almost 100 of our students started corresponding with Ms Patricia Muchard's. Their teachers' guidance was a key factor in the success of such a huge project as, in many cases, they were young learners. Needless to say, a zillion thanks to all the teachers who made this possible!

Friday, 14 February 2014

2013 Projects (artifacts, emails, and ....newspaper headlines!)

This is going to be a long post because 2013 was simply packed with exciting projects. All the previous experiences with some groups had proved so enriching that we wanted to open this up to all our students.

As can be seen in previous posts, Prof. Verónica Maser had already organised very successful ventures and we were incredibly lucky to have her accept to take on the coordination of our cross-cultural projects. None of the projects below would have been possible without the invaluable work of Verónica and all the teachers who took part in each of the endeavours. Just click on the links and you'll see their names all around :)

Rosario in Autumn

This was the kickoff project. By June, it was well underway and had our 3rd Adol students working enthusiastically with the help of their teachers to show what our town is like in autumn. They worked together with Miss Mafferetti's class in Virginia, USA

This is just a picture. Click HERE to go to the wiki.
THIS is the wiki in which they showcased the works they produced using a variety of tools such as Voicethread, One True Media, Pixorial and Windows Movie Maker.

It's worth visiting the links to the different classes (Daniela's, Gisela's, Vanesa's, Noe's and Vero's) to see the wonderful artifacts the students came up with.

E-mail Exchange with Prof Patricia Muchard's Students in Greece, NY, USA

Come September, groups of our students started exchanging emails with students from Greece, a town near New York, who were learning Spanish. Needless to say, this required lots of organization on the part of the teachers involved so as to pair students up, but it was well worth it.

Students introduced themselves and talked about their town, school and friends. Each group had to use the target language and answer their partner's questions.

E-mail Exchange with Prof Christy Weitz's Students in Lone Tree, Iowa, USA

November found us involved in another exchange organised along similar lines but, in this case, it was our 2nd, 3rd and 4th Adults students who were corresponding with peers in the USA telling each other about their family, hobbies, favourite sports and holiday destinations.

It was fantastic to see how much everyone enjoyed the experience of using the language they are learning in authentic communication.

Project with Karolina Duzy... (or how we made the headlines in Poland)

For this project, our students worked with peers in Zespół Szkół Nr 2, Rzeszow, Poland. They corresponded on a weekly basis and, by the end of the year, sent each other postcards and letters.
Here's a video showing our students when they received their postcards from Poland. Total elation!

Then, just a month ago, Karolina told us that the project, which teachers from other countries had also joined, had received national coverage in Poland, and had appeared in a couple of newspapers like Gazeta Wyborcza:

and Teraz Rzeszow:

Karolina was so kind as to provide a translation of this article.

And now what? Classes haven't started yet and we already have lots of projects waiting to be launched. So... get ready for another long post!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

2012 Cross-Cultural Projects

As 2011, this has been a year full of very successful intercultural projects and interaction. 

Letters from Sapulpa Middle School

The year opened with very exciting news for our students. They were truly delighted to receive a mailing from the students at Sapulpa Middle School-Oklahoma,USA, with whom they had been interacting via their wiki and Sype during 2011. The package contained Christmas cards and letters from their American epals and showed what a close connection they had established by working together in their joint venture.

Our students opening and reading their letters in class:

Of course, they had also sent cards, letters and presents to their peers in America and had already heard about their excitement when receiving them.

New "cyber encounters"

On May 9th, our students had a new opportunity to meet live with their peers. The preparation prior to the video conference involved the same steps as in the previous ones: negotiating  topics, and exchanging photos, posters and presentations in their wiki. You can read more about the preparation stage HERE

First minutes of the live session:

Later on, on 17th May, a new Skype session took place, this time with students from a school in North Carolina, USA.

The students in both countries had been looking into the topic of bullying so that they could exchange views and experiences during the web conference, and discuss ways to tackle this problem.
Then, they went on to talk about a less serious subject: typical places for a holiday in both countries. The students had brought photos of their favourite holiday resorts and had a great time showing each other their pictures through the webcams.

One of the highlights of the session was when our students walked around the institute with  netbooks and laptops, showing the place where they study to their peers in America - they even walked into the balcony to give them a view of their street! In the process, students from other classes also had the opportunity to say Hi to the American students, who then offered us a tour of their school. 

We are sure our students will always treasure this experience. Projects like this make learning more memorable and meaningful. Students can see that what they are studying is relevant to   their life and enables them to communicate with people in other countries. Another pedagogical gain is that students, without even noticing it, get intensive and extensive practice in the four skills: reading and writing (letters, posts, comments), listening and speaking (in the actual conference). Perhaps even more important is the fact that students become aware of cultural differences and learn to respect and accept them. Also, the projects involve creating different artifacts using web tools like posters, voicethreads and videos thus allowing them to manipulate web tools in a meaningful context

Video with some photos taken during the session:

Thursday, 10 November 2011

1st Adol's skyping experience

How it all started
One of the teachers at our institute, Ms Verónica Maser, heard about Skype in the classroom and decided to join the community. She posted the project A Day in my Life so that her 1st Adol students could share experiences with peers from other countries. The response was amazing: in no time many teachers showed an interest in joining the project. As they teach Spanish as a foreign language, it was only natural that the project take the form of tandem learning, with each group of students taking turns to use their target language with their foreign counterparts.

Students taking part in the project
Our students are in their teens and are just starting their study of English as a foreign language. The native speakers of English are in the same age band and have mostly a beginner level of Spanish.

The teachers involved in the project started email and skype communication to set the ball rolling. A wiki was used for students to start getting to know each other. They produced wonderful posters using tools like Glogster, Wallwisher and Voicethread. Here are some examples:
 Ready to Skype
Finally, it was time for the teachers to arrange the date and time of the Skype sessions. Being in different time zones meant that the students would have to stay on after the class or go to school earlier. However, the students were so excited about the possibility of talking to and seeing their new friends live, that they themselves volunteered to do so.
Here are the videos of the first Skype session:


 This was an incredibly fulfilling experience for everyone. The students were fascinated about actually being able to communicate with others in the foreign language. The whole process of preparing for and attending the session made their learning experience meaningful, enriching and enjoyable in many different senses and, at the end of the session, there was a shared feeling of wanting to repeat it.

Second Skype Meeting
This time with different groups of students at both ends. Here are some photos. Videos coming soon.