THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
The school Kungsgården has classes from preschool class up to grade 6. The use of ICT started already in 1994 with a partnership with the Rannebergen school in Gothenburg. The pupils sent over their assignments by e-mail to each other, revised them and then the groups of pupils discussed their assignments in a video conference. Video conferences were new ICT technique in 1994 so we had to go to a studio in Sandviken with a whole class of 30 pupils for the first video conference. The partnership with Gothenburg lasted for three years. Since we experienced great learning benefits for the children we wanted to develop the project. With Gothenburg we used Swedish and we wanted to know if we could achieve the same good results if the children would communicate in a foreign language?
In the autumn of 1997 a partnership with Headley Park School in Bristol started, coordinator Nick Peter came to Sandviken to get to know the project - and me - and I went to England to get to know Headley Park School. A year later it was developed into a Comenius Project between Kungsgården school, Headley Park School in Bristol and Senhora Da Hora school in Porto, Portugal. The project entitled "The State of the Nation" is a project in which students work together interdisciplinary.
The goals of the project are multiple: To develop young pupils´ linguistic and communicative skills in a partnership with a school abroad, to learn a new language in a natural way, to develop as an individual and to discover similarities and differences in different societies and cultures. It also aims to strengthen children´s self-confidence and to give them a deeper understanding of themselves and the children in England and Portugal with whom they are working.
In the project The State of the Nation pupils work together interdisciplinary on issues like citizenship, politics, culture, music, education, environment, health, identity and more. They work with the assignment three to four times every week. They exchange e-mails about the assignments and tasks they have and every week they have a video conference to discuss the different issues. It is of great importance that to all students understand everything. The English and Portuguese students work in a similar way with the assignments of students from the Kungsgården School. Then the groups meet in video conferences to discuss their work. The Swedish students also send tales and stories in English that not so advanced English pupils revise. Partner schools also share an Internet page entitled "Community Zero" where only the students and teachers in the project have access. Every week they write a report, participate in discussions, load up images, add video clips to presentations and chat.
As a part of the project there is an exchange which is the peak activity. Finally they meet the pupils that they have been working and chatting with during a long time. In May 2005 twenty pupils in grade 6 and their teachers went to Porto in Portugal. A trip that gave unforgettable memories. We continued our partnership during ten years although we did not get any funding from the EU.
Using e-mails, community zero and video conferences motivation and enthusiasm for learning among the pupils have increased. Pupils´ self-confidence has been strengthened, and their language skills have improved. All pupils dare to communicate in English even pupils who rarely speak in classroom. Underachievers are promoted and feel confirmed. Pupils get motivated and have fun. The working method gives the pupils a natural approach to English. We have never experienced such a big improvement in language learning. When our pupils go from grade 6 to grade seven their new teaches say that it is easier for them to communicate and they assimilate new languages in a completely different way than other students.
The result of working with video conferencing and exchanges has not only provided knowledge and experiences for the pupils. It has also enriched us teachers and involved parents. When our headmaster attended the project meeting to Portugal, she saw the results of this project. She then decided that everyone at the school must give priority to internationalization in teaching.
All students who worked with video conferencing, community zero and email and have passed national tests in English. Parents say that their children have gained more self-confidence. Everyone who has seen video conferencing is impressed by the pupils´ language skills and their way of communicating.
Today we use Skype for video conferences and communication.
The Project The State of the Nation has given the community of Sandviken enormously. The network of contacts that we have built has been incredibly valuable for the development of language learning in the community and for the training of our teachers. In the years since the project started between 2-300 teachers have attended different Comenius courses abroad. Nick Peters is a fantastic motivator and inspirator and together we develop working methods and find new approaches to language learning.
In Sandviken we arrange studies, exchanges and conferences every year.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The project the State of the Nation was chosen because it consists with the European policies in many ways, especially in the field of the European emphasis. The project is a partnership between England, Portugal and Sweden and gives both pupils and teacher widened perspectives and improvement of language skills.
The pupils in the project gain better language skills, better understanding of other cultures and societies and they achieve more self-confidence. The cradle of the project, the partnership with a school in Gothenburg, 1995, already then used new ICT technology i e video conferences and e-mails, an original and creative approach to language learning. This method also allows every pupil to work at their own level giving them confirmation and acknowledgement. Good results in the National tests prove that the project motivates and stimulates the pupils to improve their knowledge of language.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
To use video conferencing and the Internet in school have created authentic language situation and activities in English and also established international contacts for pupils and teacher. In the project all pupils are given the opportunity to participate at their level. Also parents have been involved.
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