Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A tool for a purpose

I'm sharing here the Web 2.0 tools I'll be introducing during the eTwinning workshop "Web 2.0-Strumenti e percorsi didattici”, Empoli, 31 Maggio 2012.

Of course, these are just some suggestions: there are hundreds of nice tools that can be used in a project, to enhance students' and teachers' creativity, involvement... and fun!
What's important for me is to always be aware that the use of these tools is not a goal in itself: their use should have an added value in terms of learning, both for students and teachers. That's just my opinion, but I believe that if an activity can be performed exactly the same with any ICT tool or pen & paper, well, pen & paper should be.
When you use - and ask your students to use - a certain tool, that tool should give you something more than simply perform an action: it could be more creativity, opportunity to work in a team, opportunity to overcome shyness, more fun, more choice. So, it's not only which tool you use: it's mostly how.

So, these are the tools I'm going to try out during the workshop. I grouped them according to the different steps of a project (eTwinning and not only). Obviously it's just a hint, in order to give the new eTwinners an idea of the how. Always remembering that, ultimately, this how will be up to the teacher and his class.

1 – Introductions


Bombay TV



2 – Collaboration


Google Docs

Google Forms (moduli)




3 – Products







4 –  from doc to pdf?

Convert on line Free


Doc to Pdf

5 – let's meet here…




Teacher 2.0

Classroom 2.0
6 – heavy files?






Sunday, 27 May 2012

"eTwinning e la realtà" - emagazine n.2

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

This time, we concentrate on practical ideas for eTwinning teams and for students' mobilities in eTwinning / Comenius / self-financed projects.

I talked about our teachers' room "eTwinning e la realtà", and the pleasure of working together,  in another post. So, this time, I'll just say once more how happy and lucky I feel for the people I met and the ideas I got there. I definitely felt creativity is a collective process.

The ebook, as well as the teachers' room, are in Italian: in fact, at the beginning they were ment as a series of experiences, tools, suggestion, ideas and strategies for new Italian eTwinners.

Anyway, this second issue, and the third one, that will follow soon (ideally, first half of June) are so rich in useful information, tips & hints, that we are planning to translate some of the articles in different languages. It will be a huge thing, I know... but together, huge things just become a succession of small steps.

Thank you everybody for making the best of teams!


E visto che l'emagazine è in italiano, una piccola introduzione in lingua madre mi sembrava d'obbligo!

Vi siete mai chiesti che documenti ci vogliono per portare i ragazzi all'estero nelle varie fasce d'età (primaria - secondaria di primo e secondo grado)?

...o che succede se un ragazzo perde la carta d'identità all'estero?

...oppure quante riunioni fare / come parlare con i genitori prima di organizzare uno scambio?

...e che fare se il vostro team comincia a traballare pericolosamente nel bel mezzo di un progetto?

...o come chiedere un riconoscimento per le ore extra effettuate in un progetto, o una diaria per le mobilità?

Bé, in questo ebook troverete, se non proprio tutte le risposte, almeno delle indicazioni e delle esperienze di "vita vissuta".

Per la parte sulle mobilità, che è un vero patrimonio, troverete davvero risposte esaurienti, e molto di più! Nel twinspace pubblico di TNG (sotto "useful materials" - cartella 8: mobilità degli studenti) ho caricato una raccolta di schede e documenti utili per organizzare lo scambio (scheda sanitaria, cosa metto in valigia, scheda per gli abbinamenti, ecc) che le colleghe hanno messo a disposizione di tutti.

Per la parte sui team, considerato che ognuno è diverso e unico, abbiamo condiviso esperienze e strategie di "how to" sviluppate nella nostra storia di eTwinners.

Buona lettura a tutti !!!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My European luggage

Since the beginning of my career as a teacher, I am taking part in a fantastic journey. Where will I go? I don’t know the answer, but it is so exciting!

I started in a small village, called Bordány, in the south of Hungary. It wasn’t a long stay, only one school year. Even if it was a really short time, I was happy because of my pupils, and because of the feeling: yes, my childhood dream came true, I am a teacher! A young and motivated teacher, just moving the very first steps - with some insecurities and doubts but, at the same time, trying to do my best for my pupils.

My journey went on, in one of the school of my town, Szeged, where I am still working. I came here more than ten years ago. I worked in the afternoon school, I was responsible for the organization of cultural events, and during the years I got to know about new European initiatives, like the eTwinning and Comenius Programme. I was really curious and wanted to know more about them. And – since traveling with friends is much more exciting – I looked for new European partners. New friends for my pupils, and for me.

I met my friend, Laura, and we started together a new and great adventure: a travel to Europe, with a lot of challenges. A travel to the „land of projects”, sharing ideas, having fun with our pupils, and, yes, with a lot of new competences. I put in my luggage a dictionary with new expressions – a new world for me.
Lifelong Learning, ICT, project, dissemination, monitoring… how many new words to learn, to use and try out in the practice during the travel!
Even if at the beginning it was a virtual journey, at school we felt we had new friends from another country who were with us in the classroom, and even if they lived in Italy, we could meet them by having fun and learning together, and they were parts of our everyday life at school.
After the virtual journey, going on with our projects we had the first meetings in Italy and in Hungary. In 2008 we organized together the Italian week of Culture in our town. What a great experience!! Pupil choir, pupil actors, teacher presentations, exhibitions, sharing our experiences and meeting with the local authorities… a real European celebration. And in this magical year our school had the possibility to start two Comenius projects. I worked on the projects as a coordinator teacher. It was a new beginning for me, my pupils and my colleagues as well. We learned a lot about the culture of other countries, about tolerance, understanding and different education systems. Our small old school worked together with schools from 13 other European countries!! And Italy, our friends’ land, was always there.
I visited lots of countries, from Turkey to Portugal, and I had the opportunity to visit many schools as well. I think this was one of the most motivating part of the Lifelong Learning Programme. Whenever I could visit one of our partner schools, I always felt I knew more about real life in that country. As a teacher I learned new strategies, I shared ideas with other colleagues, and I felt that as teachers in Europe we have similar experiences in the classroom, even if sometimes we are in a really different environment, and we have different opportunities.
I met children in the desert, near to the Sirian border, in Turkey, who live in a very disadvantaged area. I know the real meaning of the word: poverty. I was so sad because I couldn’t help them. I visited there another school of the region. There were 5000 pupils in the school! I had never seen so many pupils in a school. I respect a lot my colleagues who try to do their best to teach so many children. I learned a new meaning of the word : diversity. In the same country, I visited another partner school in Dalaman. I took a lesson in a class with only 7 pupils.
In traveling around Europe I found systems and schools I liked a lot, and I compared my school to the others. It was a miracle for me to see the richness of materials that our colleagues in France had at school. Colored papers, pens, pencils, books, a room only to play… in a school in England there was a theatre just for performances and for pupils’ shows, another room for meditation and so on.. I actually think that even if we in our school don’t have all this things, we try to use more of our creativity. And it is possible to do a lot of nice things together with our pupils this way as well. Together with good people, partners, colleagues, pupils, friends we can do it.
At the beginning of May I had a special travel. I went to Brussels because of our eTwinning/Comenius project, Bridges of Water, a project we run with our Italian, Slovakian, Spanish, Turkish partners. It was an interesting conference about school teams with new information and ideas. And I could visit Parlamentarium, a centre where it is possible to know the history of EU. It was incredible, I could be really there. I was moved. And I felt I would like to share this moment with my friend and partner, Laura, who is always with me in my European adventures, with my colleagues in the partner schools, with my colleagues who help me in my own school. And, with my pupils.. I would like to tell them that sometimes we think our dreams will never come true, they seem too far from us… but, fortunately, our dreams can come true.
Now, I have so many things in my European luggage: children’s smiles, friends, challenges, sharing, memories, ideas and hopes. I hope I’ll go on with my great European travel. The travel that helps and helped me a lot in being the teacher I am.

Monday, 14 May 2012

CLIL lesson plan: solve the problem

This is another lesson plan I've created for the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue. I've prepared it for History and Economics, but as usual it's flexible and easy to customize in order to suit different subjects. I’ve worked on two basic structures, the first suggested by Dr. Diana Hicks during one of her CLIL courses for teachers, and the second by the leaders of the eTwinning Learning Event “eTwinning and the Creative Classroom”. I added my personal touch and... here it is!

Of course, every single time you use this lesson plan it has to be modified a bit according to the students you're working with, their level of FL and the topic you're willing to address.

And that’s the best part of being teachers: you never have the same lesson twice!

Where: computer room

How: students working in group of 4 ( 1 pc / group)

Materials: 1 pc/ group + 1 interactive board (or simply 1 projector, to show the groups’ works at the end of the lesson)

Time: 1 hour for the preparation + 1 hour to share the different solutions (but it depends on the number of groups)

Languages: since History and Economics are quite tough subjects (also as far as the vocabulary is concerned), I let them free to discuss in any language, as long as they produced a shared solution in English. I suggested they produced a list of simple sentences, beginning with "We could...".You may change this point, depending on the subject you choose and its level of difficulty.

Goal: generate as many creative solutions as possible - understand cause/effect relationships.

The problem:

You live in a wealthy industrial city. However, in the last few years pollution has become major issue for the population (health problems, environmental destruction, etc.).
Your teams are the special committees of experts chosen by the Mayor to solve the problem.

You have to keep in mind the city key features:
- two big wood factories, very polluting but employing the majority of the citizens
- heavy car traffic
- poor quality of the air
- expanding population (high need of new houses)
- neighbouring woods

The Mayor has a good city budget to invest on your ideas (money at the moment is not the main problem) but remember all decisions you take will have consequences (i.e. if you close the two factories you’ll stop pollution but you’ll ruin the city economy! So, look for sustainable solutions).

The steps:

1: study carefully the problem, concentrating on the interaction among the different features

2: each team member produces at least one idea

3: the teams discuss the different ideas

4: each team produces a shared solution

5: the teams present their plan of action to the Mayor (the teacher!) – discussion among teams

The Tools:

I usually encourage the use of mapping tools, such as

free mind


3D Topicscape


But a simple ptt could do as well. If the students are working on these activity in more than one session, I invite them to create Google docs in order to share ideas.

Now you just have to try this one as well and let me know! And if you'd like to know more about TED, or join in a future session, you may want to have look at this interesting article. It's definitely an journey worth taking!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Economics – Education – Ethics

When I decided to show this presentation to my husband, who's an economist, he looked at the title and told me "Why did you put Ethics? They won't understand. Any economist will tell you Ethics have nothing to do with Economy".
That's the moment I knew he's so not a true economist. Which is great, because he understood.
And my whole presentation dealt with this gap, the gap between the economist and the educator.

     But let's start from the beginning. This is another unexpected reflection coming from my TED experience. As I wrote in another post, the Transatlantic Educators Dialogue gave us the opportunity not only to discuss and share ideas, but also to actually work with colleagues of different countries in the EU and US.
As well as meeting on the moodle platform, we had weekly online sessions, in order to discuss specific topics connected with the educational world. Each of the sessions was led by a teacher or group of teachers who presented their experience on the topic, introducing different perspectives, giving info and opinions, and asking questions in order to start a debate.
     I led Week 7 - Immigration, with Gaelle Farout, from France. And it was a great collaboration, a great session... and a great "first time", for both of us, as speakers on the Elluminate!
     Then, some more weeks into the course, TED Coordinator, Mrs. Lucinda Morgan, asked if anyone was interested in volunteering to lead Week 9 - Economics. I obviously was! As usual, I like everything that's challenging (and to be honest, I had loved the thrill of the first talk!).
But here's the main reason why I decided to give it a go: we are living this huge crisis in Italy - and in most Southern Europe - and its impact on our everyday lives as teachers and persons is so heavy. In fact, we think (we obsess) about it most of the time. For the first time now, we understand that Economics are not just a set of theories, but something real and important - maybe way too much - something that can upset your life. Someone else's decision, following theories whose existence you don't even know, can change your life.

So here's my reflection on Economics. Sad sometimes, but still hopeful.
I thank all of my friends and colleagues, throughout Europe (and the world) who try to be educators even in a time of crisis - and who are helping the next generation to learn, dream and hope, despite the hard times.

Economics, Education, Ethics. How do the three Es relate to each other?

“But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A very special CLIL lesson plan for History & Geography

I've created this lesson plan together with Gaelle Farout for the capstone session of TED 2012.
During brilliant course (maybe you remember we talked about it in another post), we had the opportunity to work in groups, sharing opinions and experences with teachers coming from all around the EU and the US. During last session, each team presented a lesson idea - which was a huge boost for our creativity! Now, we all have lots of new lesson plans, lots of ideas for new projects... and lots of new friends.
So, there will definitely be a follow-up to this experience.

As for Gaelle and me, we worked on a simple CLIL lesson plan dealing with the topic of immigration. You will recognize the structure (thanks again Dr. Diana Hicks!), but I think you'll find the content and activities to be new, engaging and easy to customize to suit different topics and age range.
Note: of course you have to choose a specific aspect/period connected with immigration. I was thinking of the Italian immigration to America in the first two decades of the 20th century. It's up to you: and once you've chosen the specific subject, you can give more details to enrich the scenario.

Ok. Ready to become an inspector of the Immigration Service? or will you be a poor worker in need of a new home? Let the story go...


about 24 students - 12/13 years old

subjects: History/Geography/Languages

Pupils working in groups of six

Instructions given in English - pupils can answer and discuss, when needed, both in English and in mother tongue.


- 24 cards with States from Africa, Asia, Europe, USA (6 cards/continent, needed to make groups)

- blackboard / interactive board

- textbook.

And here’s what you will tell your students:

1) Pick a card, look at your image and at those of the others. Then form groups: you’ve to discuss how. The students will soon understand they have to divide into continents. Once they are in their group, ask the eldest of each one – who’ll be the team leader – to explain who they are and how they formed the team. Example “we are France, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Germany and Finland. We are together because we are in Europe”. And so on. Check that all the students are in the right place. If one or more aren’t, their classmates will probably realize and tell them to move. Let them go to their correct group (this is a warming up, not a test).

2) - If your country belongs to EU or US, you are now 6 members of the immigration service.
Take a piece of paper and draw your immigration office, with your individual roles. Discuss your roles. The team leader is the member who takes the final decision. Who are the others? Find 5 important criteria according your taught about immigration.

- If your country belongs to Asia or Africa, you are the six members of a family. Take a piece of paper and draw your family tree. The team leader is the grandfather/grandmother, who rules the family. Who are the others? Remember there can be members of the family who are dead. Be as creative as you can: put names, dates, etc. And don’t forget to write in bold the family name above the tree! Think of a job for your character, if he or she is old enough to work. (This is supposed to be the motivating and amusing part, so leave them free as long as they’re actually into the role).

3) All the members of the family and the immigration service have now to introduce themselves to the others. Example “I’m Elena, the mother. I’m a journalist.” “I’m Fabio, the eldest son: I’m a singer.” "I'm Jaimie, the Director of the Immigration Office" etc.

4) - Families:
Suddenly, the two families are forced to leave their house and their country. They realize they can’t live in their homeland any more, and decide the only thing you can do is going away.
Remember, this means losing your house, friends, and much of what you have, so it should be something very serious.What has happened? Each student has to write five reasons why he could be forced to leave. Then, compare your list with those of your team mates. Are there any common ideas? Can you make up anything new together?
Write a “family list” – 10 reasons that could force your family to leave.
(They’ll probably think of natural disasters, spreading of a disease, war, etc. You’ll be surprised to see how close to real life they can get).

- Immigration service:
A family from Africa wants to immigrate in EU and a family from Asia wants to immigrate in US.
Remember, this means they've lost their house, friends, and much of what they had, so it should be something very serious.
What has happened? Each student has to write five reasons why he could accept this family in the country - what the family could do, how they can be useful for your country and its economy. And also what they have to do in order to be accepted. Then, compare your list with those of your team mates. Are there any common ideas? Can you make up anything new together?
Write an “immigration list” – 10 reasons that could convince your immigration service to accept this family.

5) Families and Immigration Services share their ideas. All of the ideas are collected on the board.

6) You’ve been acting as the millions of people who were forced to leave their countries during the 20th century and as the host countries that received them. You’ve been trying to understand their reasons, and you’ve been asking yourselves what can be so terrible as to have you leave your land. You've also tried to find out how immigration can be positive for the receiving country, and how to regulate it.
What did actually happen? Did you guess right? Let's take the book and find out together.

(...thank you Gaelle !!!)