Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Students write!

Students have already begun to write in our virtual village, Viva.

You can link directly to the "Forum Europa" where the students are writing with this direct link.

There you can see the initial messages from some of Jackie's students in Ireland, writing in German and English, from some of Gosia's students in Poland, writing in English and Polish, and from some of my students, writing in English and French. Another group of Jackie's students has written in Irish and English.

Some of my students will begin writing responses to Gosia's students tomorrow (Thursday 29 Sept), and Elisabeth, our German teacher here at Lycée Astier, will have her students write in German to Jackie's students early next week. I'm hoping we can all get more classes involved, and get more international exchange going. Feel free to use any of the other buildings if a theme is appropriate to them. In the near future, I'm planning on having students write about renewable energy and climate change in the "Science Lab", and another class will soon be writing short mystery stories in the "Haunted House". Please email me if you still have doubts or questions about using the Viva virtual village. I will still be sending emails of my students' work to all participants, hopefully later today - if I can find the time!

Also, don't hesitate to post messages for the entire group here, or post some ideas to the "Teachers Room" in Viva.

On a practicl note, it's always best to have students write as a "reponse" to an ititial teacher message. That helps keep our forums organized, and as we continue it will be a big help in seeing who is responding to whom.

Cheers, --- Phil

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back to School!

Our students here at the Lycée Astier began classes yesterday, 5 September, and Bruno and I are looking forward to communicating regularly with all of you. We've got tentative agreements on participation from several other colleagues, and really hope we can make this multi-national project into something special.
As usual, we have a few technical issues to overcome, but our computer room should be operational by the first of next week, and in theory at least we have a grant to buy some simple videoconferencing tools that should allow our students to see and talk to each other more easily. I think it best to take this on a step-by-step basis, as I'm sure the resources we each have available to us are different. And I want to remind you that you don't necessarily need to work through me personally. If, for example, Gosia in Poland wants to exchange something with Jacqueline in Ireland then go ahead and just do it! All I ask is that all teacher-to-teacher communications be copied to the rest of our partners, so that anyone interested can jump in and help. Here is my plan to get started:

1)Within a week I plan to get 2-4 classes started writing on the "living spaces" theme: describing their homes, and later their school, classrooms, town and region. I'll have groups of 4-5 students work on each sub-section, submit their work for correction, and prepare it to be sent to all partners, both in English and in French. I suggest you do the same, in both English and your individual native languages. Or for teachers like Jackie who teach another target language (German) use the solution that works best for you.

2) I have already started working on the theme of "disaster", with BBC articles about the aftermath of the hurricane in the southern US. I plan to follow this theme in two directions, first with a WebQuest about climate change (using the BBC site on Climate Change and perhaps the following articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ) and then with an activity about living conditions and overcrowding, working from the recent tenement fires in Paris towards activites about living conditions around the 1880s - 1900s in New York and London. Both topics, climate change and living conditions, should be good motors for student participation, and allow for extensive exchanges of ideas with distant partners. I'd like to get your reactions to these.

I've had a few personal problems this summer, and am currently without an internet connection, except through my school. But I should nevertheless be able to share my documents with all of you within a few days. Lastly, I'm going to make a final effort to contact the other schools who said they were interested last year; at the very least, we've got Poland, Ireland, Italy and my school here in France. That should be enough for a super dynamic project, if we can all get into it and participate.

Cheers, --- Phil

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Conference in Budapest

I attended a seminar on "Disseminating Project-Based Teaching Methods on Experience Gained From Comenius Language Project" in Budapest. Actually, one of the aims of the seminar was to test materials, which are going to be placed on the Internet to be used as part of training for eTwinning. Therefore, you'll soon be able to find all the materials on the Internet. Now I'd like to post just a few comments which I thought valuable to make in connection with our project.

While planning a project you take into consideration:
- theme
- objectives
- target group(s)
- activities planned for a specific period of time
- expected outcomes
- resources
- documentation, monitoring and evaluation
- dissemination
- risks

Why don't we, having agreed about all the details concerning our project, put them into the blog in one place similarly to the list above?
I believe it will help us organise our work and we'll always be able to refer to where we are heading.

So far we have been and still are discussing most of the typical elements of the project but we have omitted two of them: monitoring and evaluation. They are quite important and don't have to be very complicated or difficult. We may simply organise another area in the discussion forum for students and teachers or class discussion or a questionaire. If you want I could write something more about monitoring and evaluation tools and methods.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Our project organization

Our project organization is moving ahead! We have some specific ideas about how to get started, about specific topics for the first few months, and most importantly about which schools are going to be actively participating. So far, I have a strong commitment from:
- Gosia (Malgorzata Kulakowska) in Poland
- Enza Armiento in Italy
- Jacqueline Matthews in Ireland

Also actively discussing participation with me is:
- Branislav Lanscak in Slovakia

The other partners who were interested, but who I haven't heard from recently (perhaps because their school year is over and they're on holidays) are:
- Annamaria Karczagi (Axelero) in Hungary
- Jiøí Hrubý in the Czech Republic

And in my school, Lycée Astier, two other colleagues have already posted to our blog:
- Bruno Boddaert, English teacher
- Fabrice Foray, computer studies teacher.

It would be helpful if some of you could tell us whether there are other teachers in your school keen to participate. I've got 5 or 6 more here at Lycée Astier who are "interested" but who are waiting for September to really get involved.

About financing: I've already been able to use our project and the "labels" showing our participating schools to get 4000 euros and 30 extra hours for teachers for our project. We're going to use the money (from our regional council) to get a projector and PC and necessary accessories to set up a videoconferencing site. I've got several more requests for funding in the pipeline, but no confirmation yet. I strongly urge you all to make similar requests from your local administrations. I think in general they will be very keen to fund a potentially very interesting and useful project like this. Later, we can work towards getting Euro funding for exchanges through Comenius, Leonardo, and so on.

About themes: Although we've been discussing the theme "living spaces" I don't want anybody to feel "chained" to this theme, or to change their mind about participating because they are unsure about this theme. I think our project is big enough we can have several different discussions going at the same time. I know I'm still looking for some specific partners for our teachers in computer studies, electrical and mechanical engineering, woodworking and so on.

About tools: I'm sure most of us are most familiar with e-mail, and it is probably the easiest forum of exchange to manage. However, I'd also like to use a set of forums organized into a sort of "virtual village", derived from a different project I've been running for the last five years, and it would be great if we could also use videoconferencing, live chat, and perhaps other forms of communication. My colleague Bruno has also been involved in a video/theater project for a couple years, and he has several films made by students in our school, that could be fun for your students to see.

All these points would be useful to discuss here. Please jump in and post your thoughts whenever possible.

Cheers, --- Phil

Monday, June 06, 2005

Project registration and CSS support

I want to take this opportunity to share with everyone how helpful the central support services (CSS) team has been with my many questions about getting our project started, and in dealing with the E-Twinning tools interface. Nuria de Salvador, Katarina Bavorova, Brigitte Parry, Sylvia Binger and Silvia Spinoso have been a huge help in getting started, and very present in the weekly e-twinning chat sessions. Some of you may not have noticed those chat sessions, but they are linked directly from the website, and from your own dashboard. They are run from noon to 1PM and from 4PM to 5PM (Euro time/French time, GMT+2 for the summer) and while I haven't seen many struggling teachers there, the CSS team has been very present, helpful and friendly. I'll try to attend several more times this week, perhaps we can meet there some one of these days.

I have registered the project with one partner, Jackie in Ireland, and have just received the official notification of the project's acceptance. But please, I don't want any of the rest of you to feel left out. Just as soon as the tool allowing us to register multiple partnerships is ready, probably in 3-4 weeks' time, I will be registering all those who have confirmed with me their desire to participate. In the meantime, I suggest we do several things:
1) Let's continue discussing the specific details of how to manage the "Living Spaces" theme.
2) If any of you want to start a smaller side project with one of the schools I've listed, that would be great. For example, it would be logical for Fabrice's computer class to have a special side project with one or more other schools having upper-level students specializing in computer programming. I think one of Jiøí Hrubý's classes might be in that situation. As they'll have separate and very specific themes to deal with, it is logical that they have a separate project registered, even if both our schools continue to be involved in the "Village Europa" project. Some of you may have colleagues teaching in specialized sections, or wishing to have a special topic different from the one we're currently discussing. I think we could work that into our larger, school-wide project plan.
3) If any of you decide you'd prefer not to get involved in the "Village Europa" project, please let me know. I'm personally convinced that the project will be more successful if we have multiple schools involved, but some of you may prefer doing simpler, smaller projects with a single school. That's no problem, just please let me know.

Cheers, --- Phil

Friday, June 03, 2005

Computer Studies

I'm teaching computer sciences and computing languages to undergraduate students in the same school as Phil.
We are using Embedded platform using QNX, an Unix-like, or Windows XPEmbedded both with C/C++ applications most to create Web services, production control and multimedia applications; Java, Php, SQL are also in use.
During their studies, students have a period of professional training for at least six weeks, in any kind of computer related industries/companies : from programming applications to computer shop, the objective is to plug them into reality ;-)
May be we could share experiences, and why not exchange students for their professional training period.


Summer holidays and preparing September

Our classes at the Lycée Astier are pretty much over now, except for testing and corrections and meetings, but these will go on until the first week of July or so. Some of you have said your school year is ending, or has already ended, and one thing we all need as teachers is some time away from our students, to recharge for the next year.
Still, I think it'll help if we can toss around some ideas as to what sort of activities we can do with our students next year, especially what we can do to start the year in September. I'd like to get the project started with something that will make all our students realize that their education and their lives will be more and more linked to a greater community - a Europe-wide community. We mustn't let the recent referendums on the European constitution discourage this wider community building effort.

Please, respond to this message, describing your school, your students and what you'd like to do next September. I've already given some of my ideas in a nearby message, but this needs to be a group effort, a group concept.

Cheers, --- Phil

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

eTwinning village

I am happy that I could join your project, which seems to me to be very exciting!

Approved by E-Twinning