Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Promoting cultural awareness and understanding

Last week I had great news. The eTwinning project Intercultural dialogue through fairy tales, drama and art was awarded by the Mevlana prize for connecting people across borders. I had the pleasure of being one minor part of this huge project comprising students and teachers from 35 different schools in almost as many countries.

During the one year project students first chose a traditional fairy tale of their own country, translated it in English and illustrated it. After that they made a drama video of one of the partner countries’ fairy tales. The process of students working together was documented. All the project products were published on a shared wiki containing an eBook of the fairy tales called Once upon a Time in Europe and a video book containing the students' performances. 

It’s inherent for eTwinning projects that the activities involved are integrated in the school curriculum and support achieving its goals. The best projects are typically cross curricular, so that many different subjects and skills are developed. In this project our students learned Finnish, English and art and, especially, communication and media skills, creative use of digital photography and videos, team work and cooperation. Their awareness of different European countries and cultures developed and their horizons widened while reading the fairy tales, watching the videos and writing cards and sending greetings to their partners.

Once a year excellent eTwinning projects are rewarded at a prize giving ceremony at the annual eTwinning conference. This year it will be in Lisbon on the 14th of March. It's a wonderful opportunity for many of the teachers who worked closely together for a year to meet face-to-face for the first time. The winners of 2013.
"Participating in an eTwinning project means that you wish to (…) offer your pupils the possibility to exchange, to share, to cooperate and to broaden their horizons. (…) By running this type of project you are making a specific contribution to improving the quality of teaching. (…) The practices you carry out in your projects (…) are teaching treasures and techniques that deserve to be shared, and should be made known and recognized by the whole of the European educational community."


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