Monday, 26 November 2012

Lesson plan - Copyrights: whose rights?

I'm sharing here a lesson-plan on copyrights I've created with friend & eTwinner Paola Arduini during the eTwinning Ambassador course 2012.
Since at school I'm at the moment addressing this kind of topics, and in the web-age we're all involved in sharing vs protecting ownership, I think it can be useful to others as well.
Title of the lesson: Copyrights: whose rights?

Age range of pupils targeted by this lesson plan: students 10-12 years old (last year of Primary School, first year of Secondary School)

Description:- First steps in the world of Copyrights.
The students at this age are usually already familiar with the web. They can work on their own assignments/homework, both alone or in a team, using ICT tools. Anyway, they don’t know anything about copyrights: for them, what’s online has no owner. When they need an image, or music piece, or video, they just google it, copy and paste. And then forget it. At the same time younger students may not know how to find images, music and videos and just copy what their older friends do.
This lesson, that can also suit the beginning of any eTwinning or international project (the “introductions” part) can trigger a discussion and reflection on the use of web materials and the importance of copyrights.

At the beginning of any international project, the partners usually introduce themselves. That’s when we ask our students to create a video, or a ppt, about our school and area, in order to share it on the TwinSpace.

We can start from here, following these steps:

1. divide the class into four groups (approximately, 6 students each)

2. the first three groups are asked to prepare a presentation, in video or ppt, respectively of their country, town, and school

3. the fourth group will be the judges: they will evaluate their classmates’ work; for this reason, they are asked to agree on a set of parameters in order to assess their classmates (they will probably agree on: text, visuals, music, presentation… or sth of this kind)

4. the groups work on their assignments (at school or at home, it depends on how much time you want to devote to this part)

5. the presentations are showed and the judges give a mark from 0 to 5 in all of the chosen parameters to the presentations

6. the best presentation is proclaimed

7. the teacher gives to the first three teams a paper to fill in, asking the groups
- where did you find the images?
- did you take the pictures yourself?
- if not, do you know who did?
- how did you choose the music?
- who is the artist?
- etc.

8. the answers are read and a debate on copyrights, guided by the teacher, follows. Is the best presentation as good in respecting copyrights? What about the others? (most likely, they won’t as well).

9. At the end of the debate, the teacher asks the students “now, do you think we can publish those presentations online (in the public TwinSpace/blog, etc)? What can we change?”

10. Let the students make the changes – hopefully, they’ll think about choosing materials more carefully next time

11. After the changes the members of the jury vote the presentations again: are the updated presentations guilty or innocent of stealing copyrights? :)

Materials needed:
Computer lab, electronic board of projector, a reliable internet connection

You can check if the students have understood by looking at the changes they make to their presentations. Also consider the jury’s vote: by the end of the lesson, they should be able to double-check their classmates’ work.

Time allocation:
You’ll need about 4 lessons, 1 hour each.

Students won’t forget for sure (unless they choose to forget, which may happen). Next time you give them any ICT-related homework, they’ll probably choose to produce their own materials (paintings, drawings, pics etc) instead of just downloading them.

Final notes:
It can be interesting to compare different behaviour in primary and in secondary school: mainly children at primary level like to draw and use their own drawings. A follow up can be organized with older pupils who help younger ones in editing their original material (drawings, photos, music played by themselves) and creating a folder where useful material can be shared and used., just try it and let us know, there's aways room for improvement!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Teaching Teams: the safe net

As many of you may know, I'm one of those teachers who are actually happy to be one, despite the crisis, all of the red tape, the stressful routine, the neverending meetings, you name it. Now, I think that's because I've found in my career a safe net that provides me from falling at times, and that keeps me motivated and supported at all times: that's teaching teams.

I’ve been teaching for 15 years now, first in private schools in Italy and abroad, teaching Italian as a foreign language, then in the Italian public schools, as a secondary teacher of Literature, History and Geography.
And all the way, I’ve been fond of team working (both among teachers and students), of international cooperation, and of edu-tech.

Every single year of my career has been marked by a different kind of collaboration with my colleagues, my pupils, and my international partners. And year after year, the net – the virtual dimension of “being together” – has gained a central role in my teaching. That is to say, I’m more and more involved into teaching and learning together with people (teachers, students, experts) that are actually not in my classroom.

But let’s see the steps of my team-building process in the public school:

1. First - edUtopia: at the beginning of my career in the public school, teaching in a Lower Secondary school, back in 2000, I taught in a course with extended time. This means the students had 36 hours/week: 5 in the morning (mon-sat) + 6 in the afternoon (two afternoons of 3 hours each). It was a paradise, as teamworking was officially recognized: in fact, in the afternoons there were hours of teamteaching – Mother Tongue + Foreign Languages and Mother Tongue + Maths/Science. Our Ministry of Education understood how important it is for teachers to work together in order to have the pupils learn (understanding the connections between different subjects) and, but I’m not sure the Ministry was actually aware of this, the teachers actually learnt a lot from each other by being together in the same class. Teaching Teams were a great professional development tool at zero cost (think in terms of teaching styles, assessment, etc.). We made our first steps in the world of European projects together. We worked with our first partners and started sharing online. Do I need to say that our best projects were born here? out of collaboration among colleagues off- and on line?

2. Next – why paying two for one? The edUtopia period lasted some five/six years, enough for me to learn a lot and to miss them badly now. Then of course, as everywhere in the world for what I know, governments decided to cut on “unessential expenses” – read: education and services. Paying for two teachers at the same time was considered to be crazy, so if we wanted to go on in our collaboration, we had to do this in our spare time. Or we could do it – we were lucky at the beginning – with the support of Local Authorities that paid for extra hours of co-teaching. It was no more official, still we had some hours to actually share in the classroom. By now, we had partners throughout Europe and having them with us, during our lesson, quickly became something normal. So, in order to learn from other professionals, we could not only turn to each other, but also to our net-colleagues. We run lots of successful projects (and as you know, by “successful” I mean those projects where students learn & enjoy, not only those actually awarded) and we learnt a lot ourselves.

3. Today – praise the “safe net”. In a time of crisis, and of spending review, do you think there’s any room for two (or more) teachers being together in the same classroom? Do you think we can invest on education? So, just forget teaching teams, unless you want to do everything in your free time (which we often do, because we care!). But here’s the good news: after years of sowing, we can now harvest. And our crops are our partners, a net of colleagues scattered here and there in the world, who share, and discuss, and learn, and teach with us, every day, through the web. This net of teachers, met through eTwinning, Comenius and other international projects, is today our safe net. I think it is correct to say that LLP is today for any European teachers the best provider of professional development opportunities: formal ones – Comenius in-service training, eTwinning PDWs and LEs … - and informal ones, mainly through eTwinning. And then, there’s the web, and fellow teachers and edubloggers all around the world. So, teaching teams are today wider and wider nets, that can turn into safe nets at times.
At least, that’s what happens to me every day. In this blog first of all, and then in eTwinning (in Groups, in the "eTwinning e la realtà" teachers' room, etc.).

So I thank my colleagues, those I meet every day in my school, I thank my colleagues and partners troughout Europe, I thank my friends blogger, met online, here and there, in the strangest ways, and I thank all of the students I’ve met in my life. I thank you for what I keep learning (and teaching) every day with your help.
Luckily, we are each other's best resource in a time of crisis.

Learning is a social process, and I’m happy to “go social” with you.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Global Junior Challenge 2012 - Projects to share the future

The Global Junior Challenge is the international competition that rewards the innovative use of technology for the education of 21st century and the social inclusion.
Promoted by the Municipality of Rome, the GJC is hosted every two years by the Fondazione Mondo Digitale under the High Patronage of the Italian Presidency and the sponsorship of the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister.

The 2012 GJC encouraged the reflection on educational technology and its impact on social equity.
Among the challenges of the 21st century education there's in fact the link between educational and social innovation. Can ICT help us building a better future for us and our students? That's the main question.

I had the opportunity to take part in the competition both as a member of the jury in the "up to 10" category and as a contestant with my classes in "up to 15".
It was interesting for me to see the projects from within. I think I learned a lot about Primary School - not only in Italy, but in the whole world - by examining the projects I had to evaluate. There was much to learn for me, and I felt it was a privilege to explore and understand so many different pathways.

And it was a pleasure and a pride for me to be among the finalists with my students, with three projects - Comenius-eTwinning "Bridges of Water", eTwinning "BE TWIN - twinning up the everyday lesson" and "BIANCO ROSSO E VERDE".

We could travel to Rome and meet other schools, students, teachers and experts from all around the world. And coming from Casole d'Elsa - 4000 inhabitants - even just walking through the capital was an adventure for my pupils. Our journey in the underground was a sort of "Indiana Jones" mission, with much laughing, ooohing and ... trembling! But the whole experience was great, from our arrival during the plenary session, to the preparation of our area, to the "social integration" workshop for the pupils (great animator of the workshop, the pupils loved her!), to the interviews with TV and the photoshots. We felt like movie stars!

And the day went on with a walk through Rome, and a very special stop at the "Museo del Risorgimento", just to remember where we come from, and why we are here today.

In short, a fantastic experience, always with our Twins in mind: Hungary, Turkey, Slovakia, Spain... you were there in our thoughts!

Just a final personal note: in such a difficult period, with this huge crisis and more and more families facing unemployment, can new technologies really be considered a tool for social equity and integration? or are we going to see the rise of a new clique, that of the I-can-spend-on-ICT, versus a majority of ICT beggars?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dissemination, Maths and Science... and lots of languages!

Here's the latest issue of the "eTwinning e la realtà" emagazine.

Once again, it's a multilingual emagazine: this time in English, French, Italian, German and Hungarian.

We decided to keep the multilingual structure, instead of sticking to the traditional "English only" feature, to underline the European dimension of our team, and our work. We didn't want to lose the feeling of our different identities and different competences.

Our differences are what makes our team so special, and so useful. To me, it has been sometimes a safe net in case of need.

So thank you everybody, thank you eTwinning, thank you enthusiastic European teachers.
Enjoy our emagazine!

Saturday, 1 September 2012


 I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a little girl, I used to “play school” with my dolls, and after... here’s my first memory as a „teacher”: I visited my grandmother, and I asked her to let me meet the other children in the street where she lived. I am not sure if after the experience all those children were as enthusiastic as me, because about half an hour later, they found themselves sitting down around me, their new tiny teacher. What a summer holiday they had with me! J

And now I believe, as a primary school teacher, that the first experience of school is really important for children. It could depend on that, if our pupils come to school happily or not. As a primary school teacher, you can have your pupils love or hate school for life.

Luckily, my first teacher was a special one. The first day at school, I was nervously standing in front of the building, then somebody read my name, and I went to meet my future teacher. I remember her reassuring smile, and I remember I liked her from that first moment. We were her first class, she was enthusiastic. We learned, played, and when we were too tired (just imagine, since there were too many children at school, every second week we had our lessons in the afternoon, and we finished very late..) she read fairy tales for us. I liked school, and I wanted to be a teacher because of her.
After this first experience, I met a lot of other teachers. And now sometimes in the classroom, when I tell something to my pupils, I remember and just realize: it’s the same sentence I heard from one of my own teachers one day...
Do you have this experience? In those moments I realize how important it is what we tell our students... probably at the moment they are just words, but children won’t forget, they memorize our smiles, our great and not so great moments in the classroom, and the feeling we have together at school.

This new school year is a special one for me. This is the fourth and last school year together with my first class. I remember how excited I was when I met them for the first time. I had doubts and questions in my mind: Will I be able to help them in their learning? Will they learn to count and read? And... will they like school? Or hate it, because of me?
No matter how experienced you are, you’ll always ask yourself these questions with a new class. They may seem silly questions, at least some of them... but you can’t help it: and after all, they show that you care.
Through the years, I’ve developed some simple rules that can help you grow in your students from the very first moment the love and pleasure of learning (and some no-nos as well!):
1.                           be yourself - in the long run, you can’t act a role every single day at school. So, don’t try to be the “model teacher” you have in your mind, but just be the teacher who you are
2.                           be consistent - the worst teacher is the unpredictable teacher. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Respect deadlines if you want your students to respect them. Pay attention to them if you want them to pay attention to you
3.                           don’t be bossy - that’s how it goes: you’re bossy – they are scared of you – they hate you – they hate school (and will, forever, unless another teacher manages to change things!). Bossy teachers are a shame for school and for themselves. Who can really believe we can teach through fear?
4.                           reassure & reward your pupils – tell them they will improve when they fail, and tell them how good they are when they succeed. Be proud of their little successes and they will be proud of themselves
5.                           love the subjects you teach, and love teaching – in time, they’ll hopefully grow to love learning.

At the end of this post I would like to share with you one of my first memories with my class.
We were at the beginning of the school year, and our first eTwinning project.
Our task was to prepare a poster about peace. I asked my colleague to draw a big dove to represent our team (I am not good at drawing, and probably my dove could be similar to Nessie J). After, I planned to go on creating a mosaic with children. My colleague helped me. She arrived with a very big dove.
But the dove wasn’t too convincing I guess, since as soon as she left, my pupils started asking: what is this?
„It’s a dove” I answered.
„Well, it could be an eagle” one kid said.
„Yes, maybe it’s a bit big, you are right, but it’s a dove.” I said.
„Or it could be a big duck.” Another kid replied.
They all went on guessing, when a little boy looked at the drawing, pointed to me and told the others:
„If she says it’s a dove, then it is a dove!”
No more questions.
I laughed a lot, but I was so happy, because I felt they trusted me. My pupils’ confidence is a treasure for me.
And who knows? Maybe some of them dream to be a teacher…

I wish you all a great school year, great moments together with your pupils (and with us!) 

Monday, 27 August 2012

eTwinning e la realtà - Europe Calling

Summer - as we said in another post, for a teacher it's time for friends, relax, holidays, and edu tech !

True, we couldn't stop exploring the web & meeting online, and given more time, lots of us eTwinners spent the hot afternoons trying out new tools, planning future projects and devising new ways to spread our ideas and experiences throughout Europe.

And, as for us...

The 'eTwinning e la realtà' teachers' room went on being our meeting point, and that's where Antonella first got the crazy idea of a multilingual issue of our e-magazine. "We can translate our articles... we can ask our partners for help... we will help each other... we will make it!"
We were a bit anxious at first, but she was right - we could definitely rely on the eTwinners' skills in collaboration.

So, a group of enthusiastic/crazy teachers spent some of their summer translating the articles, laughing when they got mixed up or when they needed some funny periphrasis because "I can't find the word", asking each other for help, and chatting a lot. We were thrilled: we could get in contact with teachers from different countries, going beyond the national dimension.

Here's the outcome of our summer collaboration: a special multilingual issue of the "eTwinning e la realtà" emagazine, with articles in English, Hungarian, French & Italian.
That's our eTwinning gift to celebrate the new school year.

We hope other eTwinners, throughout Europe, will read our stories and find them useful and inspiring.
And we hope we'll go on collaborating, and widening our circle.

I thank all of the teachers who created the ebook.

Welcome back to school everybody... enjoy our new emagazine!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

EU citizens - Your rights, your future: consultation on the 2013 EU Citizenship Report

It is difficult to talk about the EU today without feeling sad, or at least concerned. To be honest, the EU we live in today is quite different from the one we dreamt of 20 years ago. I remember the excitement and the hopes after the Maastricht Treaty. Now, I know many EU citizens will say the Treaty (which led to the introduction of the Euro) was the beginning of the end.

It looks like we've lots of things to discuss, and much less to celebrate in the EU nowadays, but in 2013 we'll celebrate the 20th birtday of the EU as we know it today (- entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty - November 1993). And despite the problems, the crisis, the inequalities, I think we should celebrate: being together is to me a step forward in the growth of Europe. I still hope we'll manage to overcome these issues and develop a sense of belonging, not only to our countries, but to Europe as a whole. A sense of belonging that will guarantee peace, freedom, a shared attitude towards ethical issues (a widely recognized set of laws!) and why not, economical growth.

That's why I believe it's our duty, as European citizens, to take part in the public consultations promoted by the EU: when our opinion is asked, we have to answer. We have to give our opinion, which is our little contribution to the building of the EU we dream of. Because we still dream of a better Europe, don't we?

The European Commission launched in May 2012 the Consultation on the 2013 EU Citizenship Report "EU citizens - Your rights, your future". The deadline is 9 september 2012, so you must hurry up !!! :)

In their words "We want to know about any obstacles you might be facing in your daily life as a European Citizen living, studying, working, shopping or simply travelling within the EU. We would also like to hear your ideas about how to remove these obstacles and further develop EU citizenship."

I'm sorry this consultation was not as widely known as it could have: unfortunately, many of the European Commission initiatives are publicized only on official or specific websites. That's why we should regularly visit the official website of the European Union .
And by the way, if you have a blog, or take part in forums, socials etc., please let the others know about the consultation: the more the citizens who give their opinion, the closer to our dreams the new EU will be.

We can change things. We still can have a better EU, not only for our students, but for ourselves as well. Let's try, together.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

New projects: work in progress

Good Twins try to meet not only online, but also off line! That's why we decided to forget skype and the eTwinning chat for a while, and meet face to face in front of a nice traditional Italian meal (if you're interested: lasagne, carbonara & pici: look for them in your dictionary!).
Here are some pics of the happy Twins!
Note: it looks like we're just having fun, but in fact we're creating new amazing fantastic projects. Wait and see...


Mint Igazi Ikrek, nemcsak online, hanem off line is! Ezèrt kis idore megfeledkeztunk a skype ès az eTwinning chat hasznàlatàròl, inkàbb a szemèlyes talàlkozòt vàlasztottuk, ès mellè egy finom, hagyomànyos olasz ètelsort: lasagne, carbonara & pici: a szòtàrban megtalàljàtok mindkettot, ha szeretnètek! ).
és  jojjon nèhàny fotò a boldog Ikrekrol!
Figyelem: ugy tunhet, mi csak szòrakozunk, de valòjàban èppen csodàlatos, fantasztikus jovobeli projekteken dolgozunk.
Vàrjatok, ès meglàtjàtok...

Mònika :)

Una bellissima giornata da ricordare, un piacevole momento per rievocare progetti degli anni passati e per programmarne di nuovi ! Il tutto nella splendida cornice di Siena, in compagnia di due colleghe straordinarie.
Quale migliore incentivo per cominciare bene l'anno scolastico?


Monday, 20 August 2012

I like it social

I often say I'm a very social person. Which means I truly enjoy the company of other people - and I'm not thinking of such a rare thing as friendship now - I just like talking, listening, having fun, laughing together. You don't need to be friends to have a good and fruitful time with someone.
My mother says she can remember me as a child chatting up people from my pushchair. And no surprise, I grew up as a friendly extrovert, always looking for like-minded people (and also for opposites - after all they're supposed to attract each other, aren't they?).
But as for technology, that's another story. As a young girl, I found it "unpoetic" and just kept away. At university I wrote my dissertation with a pc, but only because I had to. I was trapped in something between a posh pose and a religion: ice-cold technology didn't look artistic enough for a student of  literature and poetry, and what's more, all of the teachers made sure to tell us technology would be the end of human creativity.
But I was curious, and once out of school & University (i.e., thinking with my own head only) I cautiously began my make-friend-process with the web. Eventually, I couldn't resist the social aspect of Web 2.0.

I started by chance, with the easyest place to exchange ideas: a forum. One day I googled the name of my favourite singer and there it was, a fantastic fan-forum with plenty of info, pics, lyrics, people and discussions. I was vowed and joined in. I quickly learned about profile pic, nickname, avatar, customize your page and stuff like that. I liked it. I liked reading and posting. Unfortunately, I also quickly learned that lots of people = frequent flames. Now, there's enough of squabbles we can't avoid in everyday life, but we surely can avoid those online. So when the place got too noisy for me, I did what I would in any noisy room: I left.
Anyway, that was a great start. I made true friends there (those who go from online to offline!), had a very good time, and learned a lot about interacting online. I was then - and still am - convinced there's no need of any special "netiquette": common sense and good manners are enough. You're dealing with real people, despite their nicknames and funny avatars, so just act as you would in real life. I know, it's not that simple. Some people are addicted to the "no name / no face" status, and they feel free to do their worst. Still, I wonder how it's possible to fight when talking of a common passion.

Since then, I've been here and there in different forums about my different passions. I definitely think a forum is the perfect place to exchange ideas. I like it better than the chat - too fast and too ephemeral for me :)
What I like in forums is that they are like rooms with a door constantly open - which means that you can come and go as you like, that you'll hopefully find "old friends" and also new faces (= new ideas), that you'll be free to leave for good if you feel so (but please, do it without drama!).

Now, can you see what a great resource a forum can be in education?
It took a while for me to realize it, but once I did, I got involved in all kind of communities about school / education / edu tech / professional development... you name it. Most educational websites provide a forum for professionals of the sector, and it can be very useful when you're dealing with specific needs.
Of course, if you're planning to create your own forum, there are lots of free forum hosts that can be useful. Just google it, and you'll find plenty. Anyway, remember it can be hard work, both for the setting up and the moderating. What's more, lots of free forum hosts keep your data from you, so if you grow and want to move, you'll have to start anew.
So, for working with students, I suggest either creating a simple blog (blogger and wordpress are excellent) or exploiting the eTwinning platform, setting a project and using the pupils' corner (nice forum & chat tools there).
True, blog and forum are two completely different philosophies: but you'll have to try for yourself and find out!

Going on with my story, from the forum experience I quickly went on to myspace and then to Facebook and Twitter. I found Twitter to be a great tool to keep you up to date about the subjects you're interested in (just be careful with whom you're following!), so I keep it for professional use only.
As for Facebook, I know it can be controversial, but I like it a lot. I'm struggling to keep it for friends only (I've been living and studing here and there in Europe a lot, and fb is a great place to keep in contact with distant friends) but of course it's difficult. What are you supposed to do with your colleagues asking you for friendship in fb? say "no thanks"? So it's a mix of the two, personal and professional. And it works.
Note: for students, I follow my personal rule "no fb friendship while you're in one of my classes". It saves me lots of trouble. Anyway, I know of colleagues who created a specific fb profile as a teacher, set fb pages for their classes and find them quite motivating for students. I would still prefer dedicated spaces, safe for children as well (i.e., eTwinning again!) but it's up to you.
Don't underestimate the power of Facebook as a professional development space, though: some of the specific pages can be very interesting.
Anyway, when particularly dealing with my profession, I use LinkedIn and I find it the perfect place to look for and exchange information. If you've never tried the LinkedIn groups, I think you should: lots of committed people, lots of ideas, lots of opportunities in the fields you like.

I'm at the moment exploring Google+ (I love Google!) but that's work in progress for me!

And if you're really brave (or a bit crazy, just like me), you may want to have a look at the new growing socials, like LetsLunch, the social dining, where you set up a profile explaining what you do, what fields and people you're interested in and when you are free to get together... and you eventually arrange a meal I suppose! Or you can try Pinterest , a virtual pinboard where you can organize and share images, videos and other web materials, or travel with CouchSurfing or... well, you should just explore the web on your own, you'll have much fun. What's for sure, is that lots of websites are widening today their "social" aspect. Getting together online is something we appearently like a lot.

Bottom line: believe it or not, I still have time for going out with friends & family and enjoying quality face2face time with those I love !!!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tech adventurous teachers on holiday

Summer is here, and most people dream of escaping the hot cities, taking a trip far from their everyday routine, or just lying on the beach, having a swim and getting a proper tan.
But you know, teachers are not "most people". Especially the ICT-addict teachers.

So, what do teachers on holiday do?

Well, some things are quite common, but you could be surprised by some of teachers-on-holiday's favourite pastimes...

1) They (try to) spend quality time with their family/friends/pets and loved ones. It may sound obvious, but it isn't: don't forget 99% of teachers, especially those with kids, feel constantly guilty for neglecting their family and social life. We've just gone through nine months of 'friendly' remarks like "you know, you seem to be spending far more time taking care of someone else's children than yours" or "are you really going to spend the whole Sunday glued to that pc? again?" (that's for eTwinners) or "I'm sure there should be something better to do than correcting essays at 10 pm" or again "how could you spend the whole afternoon at that teachers' meeting? I always wonder at how much teachers love chatting..." (if you're a teacher, you know what I'm talking about). Well, that can be pretty damaging for your self esteem as a mother/father/husband/wife/best friend/partner etc. So we try to make up now.

2) They sleep! (but dream of school) Of course: we've to make up with all of the sleepless nights correcting essays, chatting online with project partners in different countries, obsessing about one of our students' behaviour or results, or what a colleague told us/told the others about us, etc. Strange as it may seem, we all know how easy it is to lose a night's sleep on what can seem to the others a quite silly issue. The fact is, we've to do with real young people, their minds and their feelings, and that's a responsibility that can definitely keep you wide awake at night.

3) They hang out with fellow teachers and make up new projects. Believe me, we're more creative in summer time. And you feel there's nothing you can't do when you're sitting in the open air with a colleague who's also a friend, speaking your mind and devising challenging projects for your classes. Hint: add some chocolate to the process and you'll improve it dramatically. Planning over a chocolate icecream will add a special touch to your creativity.

4) They read all of the books they bought/borrowed but couldn't read during the school year (lack of time of course). Plus, they clean their bookcase, their school bag, their pc desktop, their room and their whole house. A new start requires order and space (obviously, we never throw anything away, as even the silliest document could be useful sooner or later, so we just change the papers/books/files position. Which means we will never ever find them again). 

5) They try out all of the ICT tools they couldn't try during the school year. Which takes them back to the "glued at that pc again" remark. But who cares. It's fun. And you can't even imagine how much this tool I've just found will improve my everyday lesson... and what I could do with my students... if only I could convince my Headmistress to buy another pc... or I should ask the families... and... well, you know, sweet dreams for the coming year.

6) They have fun! on- and off-line.

So, let us relax and have fun.

And if you're looking for inspiration, here are my tips:

- for our Team Teaching reflection, I suggest you have a look at this brilliant article  25 Ways Teachers Can Connect More With Their Colleagues (thank you Tim!)

- and by the way, at you'll find lots of tips and hints for the ICT curious teacher. I loved the Top 100 Tools for the Twittering Teacher but believe me, this blog can be a real gold mine for your afternoons, when it's too hot to go out (just add airconditioning, a cup of coffee and a tech adventurous teacher!)

- summer time is the best moment to explore and enjoy the world of Edutopia. In the years, I developed a passion for this website! You can get lost among articles, free downloads, guides, videos... but it's like getting lost in Wonderland! For now, have a look at the latest blog post on assessment , it definitely makes you think...

- if you've not done it already, what about joining in Classroom 2.0 and Teacher 2.0? There are lots of ideas - and lots of teachers from all around the world - waiting for you (they'll make a great addition to your "glued at that pc" nights!)

- and even if you're an experienced eTwinner, what about having a look at the eTwinning portal? You could find inspiration having a look at the kits, or at the projects of other teachers, or at the featured articles. Or you will just keep in touch with your eTwinning friends, planning new projects or thinking back to the old ones and all the fun you had together. Don't forget, inspiration comes from meeting and sharing. And eTwinning is the right place for both.

I wish everybody the best summer holidays ever.
 Enjoy the sun, explore the net... and be proud of your being a teacher, on holiday as well!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

eTwinning Team Power

Hi everybody, just few lines this time to wish you all the happiest summer holidays ever.

And if you need something to read on the beach, what about having a look at our new issue of the "eTwinning e la realtà" emagazine? You can read it online or download the pdf version - download is free as long as you have a Calameo account (if you don't, creating one is a matter of minutes).

This post is a big "thank you" to all those ones who contributed, supported, liked our teachers' room, or only had a look from time to time.

And this post is our answer to all those ones who question the social aspect of eTwinning. We created three ebooks, we wrote lots of posts, we got plenty of new ideas, we just helped each other. We didn't need any certificate, any diploma, or any extra money to be convinced to do it. We enjoyed being together and we found it useful. This was enough. And that's the closest to a Community of Practice I've ever been.


Saturday, 2 June 2012

What I am walling in or walling out

Today, June the 2nd, we celebrate the birth of the Italian Republic. A celebration I truly love, for its sense of identity, pride, freedom - and for its colours and waving flags, that remind me of my childhood.

I think we should build and feel our identity by what we are and what we have in common. But lots of people, especially in these hard times, prefer to define their identity by what we are not. We even take pride in what we are not: black, old, poor, weak, ill, ugly, "different"...
I don't think it works. It's a paradox. We struggle to feel part of something, of this shared identity, not by finding out what we have in common, but what we don't want to be. We are building walls between us and "the other". And I'm sure it will backfire.

Before building a wall, we should reflect on what we are walling in or walling out.
Let this be a day without walls. Let we feel we are what we are, and it's fine. Because we have a world in common. And our differences are exactly what enable us to teach and learn from each other.

Thank you Robert Frost.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."