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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

Life is a Road! Let's Draw it Together!

School: Gymnasio Arethousas

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Topic(s) addressed

In order to tackle issues and capitalise on the partnership’s expected synergy, we agreed on a number of common transversal objectives that consisted of improving the schools’ approaches and teaching methods in 8 key educational competences through the sharing of good practices across all participating schools; increasing children’s motivation for learning by regularly using technology to research, study, document, create, and develop skills; improving teachers’ skills in providing appropriate individualised education for children with different learning abilities, social, and ethnic backgrounds; achieving better learning outcomes for all pupils using a long-term perspective; and promoting intercultural competencies and knowledge. In order to make our objectives Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART), partners had to O1. promote geographical and historical knowledge about European cities and share information with other European schools of their lives, hobbies, culture, city, and country; O2. confront xenophobic attitudes that may occur in Art and Civilisation Projects; O3. share a vision of a common European identity and citizenship (cultural heritage) by recognising the values of hospitality; O4. prevent social exclusion and enhance social cohesion; O5. encourage long-term cooperation between schools; and, O6. address language problems. We designed the project’s activities to smoothen out differences, motivate teachers and students, lead us to our targets and final products, and meet the project’s objectives by establishing the timescale and specificities for each partner country. A list of our final products (a travel guide, calendar, a mobile application, photo album, brochures, posters, promotional videos, and a collection of recipes), was augmented with other outputs that emerged during the project’s implementation, such as the suggested best practices for teachers and the project’s anthem – both of which were developed by students and teachers of the Italian school.

Target groups

The project saw the participation of small schools in their entirety and at least 4 classes from larger schools, with teachers of all subjects directly involved in planned activities; also, special care was taken to fully integrate disadvantaged pupils into all activities. Groups of parents, associations, and other stakeholders supported the school, shared the project’s results and cooperated with classes and staff especially during the project’s implementation, evaluation, and the dissemination of its activities. Students who participated in the project were between 12 and 15 years of age. There were 45 student participants from the Greek school with a majority (about 40) having been involved with the project; additionally, there was the Greek headmaster, who was also the project’s coordinator, and a team of 6 teachers from various disciplines who linked the project with local authorities and stakeholders. The Martinican junior high school is a small rural school with 20 teachers and 152 students (all of whom are located far away from the capital city, airport, and all cultural centres). There were a total of 38 students from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds from this school who were directly involved in the project, in addition to the principal (Mrs Guylène HONORE) and a team of English, Spanish, and Creole language teachers (who were also accompanied by Maths and Art teachers along with the school librarian). The Polish school saw the participation of about 110 students, with 20 teachers, while the Italian school involved 6 classes (nearly 120 students), 20-25 teachers, the headteacher, parents, and teachers of other subjects. The Canarian school involved 4 teachers, the school’s management, and 125 students; although the school was located within a metropolitan area, its students came from a marginal suburb and faced financial obstacles. Across all countries, schools received the support of parents’ association, municipalities, local museums, and other local and tourism-associated organisations and stakeholders that provided organisational, didactic, and economic support.

Methodologies

Traditional teaching methods often do not offer satisfactory solutions to bridge gaps among different groups and meet the needs of all learners. One of the positive effects of European school partnership projects is that they create a dynamic environment within which divisions and diversity-based isolation of pathways and classes can be overcome. European projects give pupils the chance to work together in projects and with different subjects (literature, science, technology, economics), which is something pupils rarely experience due to their course outline. As such, we designed the project’s activities to smooth out differences, motivate teachers and students, lead students to the project’s targets and final products, and meet the project’s objectives by addressing the specificities of each country. Students became researchers, analysts, creators, developers, presenters, and evaluators, and they succeeded in using and improving their skills, imagination, and creativity while working with ICT tools (blogspot, Kahoot, piktochart, yumpu, learningapps). Furthermore, pupils played roles and traditional games, made videos and collages, interviewed individuals of interest, created virtual companies and a mobile application, and composed and performed the project’s anthem. Each student contributed to the project’s success, with older and more experienced students taking care, helping and encouraging younger pupils; pupils’ opinions were always heard, and their point of view embraced and implemented where possible.

Environments

The project was embraced by a majority of teachers, all of whom collaborated well both internally and transnationally; especially among small schools, each teacher took on many different roles with the principal’s support and with the help of experts. We organised courses for those who were unfamiliar with ICT tools, and encouraged them to use said tools in class and courses so as to familiarise everyone with TwinSpace, Europass, and the Europass CV format.

Teachers

Over the course of the programme, a Best Practices Guide began emerging (which had not been anticipated in the project’s outputs); however, because we considered it to be a valuable tool for European programmes and the curriculum, we encouraged its development. This resulted in the defining of 7 Effective Teaching Strategies For The Classroom consisting of visualisation; cooperative learning; inquiry-based instruction; differentiation; technology in the classroom; behaviour management; and professional development. This ‘Best Practices’ file was presented to schoolteachers who were encouraged to use it in their teaching and to evaluate it in the interest of improving its content.

Impact

The methodology applied in setting up the project was innovative because it aimed to develop personalised teaching-learning paths and an organisation of teaching activities that differ from conventional academic lessons. The project was implemented through various forms and contexts, for example by creating Erasmus+ clubs with students of mixed abilities in order to practice peer-to peer learning and enable true inclusion. Innovative means to capture knowledge and practices that are based on mastery learning and peer tutoring were developed, with learning units for certain subjects successfully produced. The methodology applied during the project’s lifecycle was integrated into the curriculum so as to combine interactions between academic learning and cooperative practice, and to institutionalise the project’s spillover effects across participating schools. In sum, we can indeed proudly say, “Life is a road! And we drew it together.”

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Stakeholders

Participants

Collège Eugène Mona

Address
France

IC Carmagnola I

Address
Italy

IES Domingo Pérez Minik

Address
Spain

Szkoła Podstawowa nr 8 im. Wojciecha Korfantego w Mikołowie

Address
Poland