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.