Candidate Personal Narrative
NAME: Barbara Wanda Juzwiak Dieu|
HISTORY (10 points)||
I have been teaching EFL in Brazil for thirty years, but have been a student of foreign languages since I was born. Although my surname “Dieu” sounds very French and "omnipotent", I am a local teacher and owe it to my Belgian husband. I was born in Brazil of Polish parents, with whom I regularly travelled. Thanks to this accidental combination and exposure, I now speak four languages: Polish, Portuguese, English and French.
I started as a student- teacher while still preparing for the Cambridge Proficiency Exam in 1973. At the Cultura Inglesa, a language school associated to the British Council, I taught teenagers, adults, businessmen, prepared students for the Proficiency Exam and developed a conversation course for advanced levels. In 1981, I went back to university to complement my studies. In 1983, I entered the Lycée Pasteur, the Franco-Brazilian school in São Paulo, where I have been preparing secondary school students for both the French baccalaureate and the national certificate.
During my teaching and learning experience, I have been in contact with and trained in a wide variety of methods. I have been very fortunate to interact in a multicultural milieu that has shaped my values and perspectives and taught me a lot both personally and professionally. Therefore, when I discovered that online shared learning gave me the opportunity to extend this individual experience to my classrooms and open them to other communities and cultures, I did not hesitate in taking it up.
I organized my first project in 1997. My school was neither properly equipped nor connected and I did not know much about computers either. The French program directives our school follows had not implemented the use of current technologies or the concept of collaborative learning. Workshops for teachers were sporadic and costly as they involved disruption and displacement. Besides, they generally focused on specific software and were mostly aimed at the science department so they did not meet individual pedagogical needs. I craved for more. The Internet provided me with tools, leading examples, permanent access to topical information and contacts abroad. I knew educational innovation was under way and that our kids could only benefit from it.
The support I received from the people I collaborated with, students’
reactions, and parents’ satisfaction at the outcome of USA
Connection Project stimulated me to blaze a trail in spite of lack
of structural and financial support. Management was indifferent and many
teachers were not prepared to abandon their routine. I missed interdisciplinary
work and responsibility sharing with colleagues, time to get together
and discuss, and more flexibility, which was very difficult within the
conservative system we were in. The network and contacts established through
international collaboration in these five years helped me overcome this
barrier and became my most invaluable allies in encouraging communication,
enabling classroom cooperation and promoting change.
Today, I represent This is Our Time project, for which the Lycée Pasteur has become home base both for French and Portuguese speaking countries. I am also responsible for organizing the Time Classroom Twinning Activity for students and teachers around the world. I participate actively in various professional development communities online, discussion forums and lists (Tapped In, European Schoolnet, ECML, Escola do Futuro Web quest chat, E-teach), through which I get informed of the latest developments in my area, exchange information, share knowledge and present projects. I also help colleagues in their everyday practice at school and online. I have designed and maintain my own website, developed two web quests and published articles about my experience with ICT. Last year, I gave a workshop on This is Our Time project for Language Teachers at Cyberlangues 2002 in Bordeaux, France.
PROJECTS (10 points):||
Since 1997, I have contributed to, developed, jointly managed a number
of projects and collaborated with many different people and institutions
around the world.
Among the projects, four deserve particular attention: USA Connection
and Twinsite 2000 (already completed), This is Our Time
and The Copabacana Club (ongoing). I provided a short description
here and a more detailed narrative/ outline through links and under the
1997 – 1998 USA Connection
Narrative URL: http://www.members.tripod.com/the_english_dept/projects/files
This was the very first collaborative project I conducted online. In
1997, it brought together seventy of our 8thgraders and
students from nine schools all over the United States. It aimed at making
them discover the American/Brazilian culture and way of life and these
countries’ human and natural environment through reading, writing, social
studies, biology and technology. The students learnt about young people
their own age and discovered the similarities and differences between
themselves and their new friends, their living conditions, the teaching
they received. They used and practised English in a communicative context
through e-mailing. The second year, e-mailing continued with three schools:
Sycamore in Gridley, a rural area near Sacramento, CA
Valley High School, in Sanders, a Navajo reservation near Phoenix, AZ
Lowell, an urban school in San Francisco, CA
A two-week trip to the west coast of the USA took place in October 1998,
students and 4
teachers. During the trip, the students visited the places they had
studied. We exchanged presents with the teacher in Phoenix while in San
Francisco we met
and spent our day on Pier 39 and had diner at the Hard Rock Café with
the Gridley key pals and teacher. We also spent
a morning at Lowell, where the American pals hosted the Brazilians
and took them to class with them. The whole trip was documented live online
through the website created for this purpose.
Website URL: http://usaconnection.tripod.com/Project/Project.htm
1999 - 2000 – Global
Project URL: http://theellisschool.org/WorldClass/GP-index.html
For two consecutive years, students from Ellis School corresponded with
our 70 8th graders and 20 9th graders asking information
about our country and our views towards global issues (Rise of the "New
Europe", Africa in Crisis, Communism and Capitalism in Asia, Nuclear
Proliferation, Human Rights, Terrorists and Ultra-nationalists, Global
Technology and Science). Our students filled in a survey online and read
the results and reports, comparing them to the other participating schools.
1999-2000 – Twinsite2000
Project URL: http://www.cs.vu.nl/TwinSite-2000/
Narrative URL: http://www.members.tripod.com/the_english_dept/projects/files/intro.html
The aim of Twinsite2000 international competition was to team up a teacher
and group of students from a Dutch school with another group abroad, agree
on a topic and build a site following given criteria. The
team: three voluntary 12th graders and I joined Patrick
Holmes and his team from Lyceum Berlage. After three months of intensive
communication and collaboration (e-mail, MSN messenger and file exchange
on server), we entered the competition with the site: The
Time of Your Life, ranked among the first four.
Website URL: http://twinsite2000.tripod.com/index.htm
1999-2003 – This
is Our Time
Time is an annual global school project managed by e-linQ
Educational Technologies and organized in cooperation with UNESCO
Associated Schools Project network and eight Time
home bases around the world.
Throughout the year, students and teachers worldwide work in class on
global citizenship, cultural diversity, environmental issues and aspects
of ‘time’. Participants have a wide range of structured lesson plans to
On Time Day, schools from all time zones and both hemispheres get together
for 24 hours in a virtual platform. There they race against time in the
Unite the Nations rally, communicate, search, create and divulge what
they have done, sharing invaluable cultural contributions and insights.
When we first participated in 1999, the discussions for Classroom Twinning
were so productive and the kids had so much fun in the Unite the Nations
game that I decided it to include Time in our everyday life.
Discussions on Time Day and classroom twinning forums are usually based
on UNESCO annual themes, so the outlines below show the progression I
established for my classes every year, the number of students, the aims,
the activities the classes participated in and the concrete results.
Towards a Society
for All Ages (1999)
As a result of our classes’ active collaboration and involvement, the
Lycée Pasteur was invited to become Time multilingual home
speaking countries), which I represent. In this role, I act as liaison
between headquarters and countries in these areas; invite, select and
support schools; organize activities, help teachers in the use of technology
and am translating the educational material into French and Portuguese.
I am also responsible for the Twinning
Activity. Together with the other teachers involved, we are gradually
incorporating it into day-to-day teaching. We have virtual meetings at
Tapped In, exchange ideas and I post links and lesson plans in the collaborative
community I opened for this purpose at European Schoolnet.
Read interview: Successful
Communities: Classroom Twinning and School Projects
1999-2003 - The
(articles published until 2001)
(articles published after 2001)
The Classmate is our newspaper online by high school students. The aim
is to make them write articles in English about everyday activities, themes
given in class for project discussion or comments on global issues. This
year, we intend to open it to other students from other classes we are
in contact with to form a team of international correspondents.
1999 – 2003 The
English Department Website
As the Lycée could not host my material on their server, I designed,
maintain and regularly update The English Department website so as to
inform parents about our class activities and English programs, give our
students a progression of the course, suggest interesting links and extra
activities they can do on their own at home. I also share the material
I have collected and developed
for my own teaching with students and teachers worldwide. The site displays
our most important projects and students’ productions like, for instance,
the activities for This is our Time project around the Peace Manifesto
2001-2003 – The
the Virtual Village in Ardèche is a dynamic online writing project
created by a team of educators including Christine Nucci, Benjamin Friess
et Jérémy Royannez from the CDDP de l'Ardèche and Philip Benz, English
teacher at the Lycée Astier in Aubenas, France.
In 2001, I discovered the village on a surfing trip and read we could
ask for a building permit in the town hall. In class I suggested the idea
to my 75 9thgraders, who fell in love with it and we started
working on this new project. By interacting online with the graphic department
responsible for the village in France, our students in Sao Paulo imagined
and created a whole new area: The Copabacana Club. In the first semester
2002, they hosted the club and exchanged messages with participants from
schools in France, Martinique and the USA in the different forums they
had helped to design. You can see the results in the 2001/2002/2003 archives
park. They also participated in The Copabacana Restaurant food quest
designed to animate the restaurant. Later, more classes joined the project
and exchanged ideas with their peers about the environment,
in the forums around the village.
2002 – The Copabacana
Restaurant Food quest
I developed this web quest as a continuation to the Copabacana Club Project
in Viva. The students have to define the kind
of restaurant they want the Copabacana to be, how to staff it and
make it work. Thirty-two 10th graders participated in it last year, posted
their ideas on the forum and received comments and suggestions from
other students worldwide.
2002 - Navegar
A web quest in Portuguese designed with two other colleagues to teach
students to evaluate and select useful web sites for inclusion on a mini-site
of their own design. It has been used in Brazil and Portugal to train
teachers on web quest strategies.
Reviewed by Merlot:
and included in Bernie Dodge’s matrix page
Projects for first semester 2003:
Time International Friendships and Intercultural Learning – I
am presently organizing a classroom twinning to be carried among ten schools
from March 6th to end of May.
First theme for discussion: national stereotypes (lesson
Classes involved from our school: 9th, 10th and
11th grades (130 students)
cross-cultural awareness and understanding;practice language skills; learn
how to challenge bias, unfairness and stereotypical views.
Products: Teachers carry out lesson in their classrooms and students post
group reports in closed forums. Individual exchanges and discussion among
students follow. Articles, exchanges and interviews will be published
on Time website and the Classmate.
Spring in Europe (February - March)
Our theme: Europe in Brazil
Classes involved from our school: 9th and 10th grades
Objective: develop students awareness to their family roots, why they
are in Brazil and what Europe represents for them.
Products: quizzes and discussions on EUN forums.
Slavery Project (March – May)
European Schools: the Transatlantic Trade
Lycée Pasteur: Modern Slavery
Class involved from our school: 11th graders (30 students)
Objectives: exchange and compare information and lessons with teachers
and students from different countries on the same topic.
Products: discussion with five schools on Viva forums (open)
COLLABORATION (10 points):
USA Connection (1997-
E-mailing was the main technology used in this project. Through it, we
maintained contact and corresponded with the schools involved during all
the phases of the project. At Christmas time, we all experienced a very
special moment sending and receiving “culture boxes” (book about the country
for the school library, postcards, photographs, and little gifts to respective
The writing project between Sycamore School in Gridley, CA and our school consisted in each class writing stories that somehow involved their pals or their countries. These stories were shared digitally by e-mail, published online and later compiled to become part of each participating student's and each school's libraries. The video project between the two classes was also an exciting way to promote collaboration. Students were not only involved in writing their own script based on a common plan but also engaged in teamwork when producing the film. They exchanged their creation with the American school by mail and the teams from both countries compared their way of life and commented on their similarities and differences.
A digital camera and cyber cafés along the way enabled us to document
the trip live online on the USA
Connection website so that Brazilian parents and American students
could daily follow our adventure and communicate with us during the trip.
Twinsite 2000 (1999-2000)
beginning e-mailing was used for introductions and to report/sum up the
main points. ICQ and MSN messenger were used for brainstorming and in
the building phase when we exchanged ideas on how to put the material
together. After visiting an exhibition on the Dutch influence in Brazil,
my students collected data and material on the Internet, scanned pictures
from books and showed through a
timeline how Brazil and The Netherlands met in history. Following
instructions from experts, one of the students created the Flash flag
that illustrates the timeline. The Dutch team chose to represent every
day examples of how time can be fast
and slow. We also searched the net and books for quotations to illustrate
page and articles about time, which we read and discussed in class.
We used Dreamweaver and Front Page to build the site while Tripod server
hosted “ The Time of your Life”.
This is Our Time (1999-2003)
is our flagship project, the structure around which I weave most of my
class activities and find inspiration for other projects. What I find
fantastic about Time is that it offers students and teachers alike, an
unlimited scope for local and international teamwork and development.
Themes like global citizenship, the environment and the concept of time
not only fit easily into any school curriculum but also go beyond it,
opening up opportunities for cross-curricular work at school and among
partners. By fostering an atmosphere of collaboration, enjoyment and support,
the activities lead to active participation. We share our group and individual
successes online through multilingual
sites which have become a meeting point among cultures.
For the Unite
the Nations rally, students have prepared questions with their Portuguese,
History and Geography and Social Studies teachers and then translated
them into English. I have helped translating questions sent to us in French
by schools in Africa to include them in the rally as well. On Time Day,
high school students have monitored younger ones, helping them search
the net, making telephone calls to experts (consulates, immigrants of
different nationalities). They also negotiated (by e-mail and on forums)
with other countries involved to get the answers to the difficult questions.
In the classroom twinning activities, which now take place all year long, students have regularly e-mailed partners in Mexico, Indonesia, Italy, Belarus, Russia, Canada, The Netherlands, France and Finland. They introduced themselves and their country, met their pals in chats organized during the year and exchanged views on global issues both in groups in the classroom and later on online forums. Some of the material collected from the discussions on the themes resulted in newspaper articles for The Classmate or summaries of discussion.
Local activities were also organized. The first year our students interviewed elderly people while in 2000, the Peace Manifesto was used as backbone for many of the 9th/10th grader activities. For the first time at school, we had year- long interdisciplinary teamwork, gathering teachers and students around a common theme. In 2001, a forum was set so that students worldwide could express their views on the September attack. Some wrote poems for the Tolerance newspaper to voice their feelings.
As our school offers instruction in five languages (French, Portuguese,
English, Spanish and German), I realized we could open another communication
window by using our linguistic assets. Working with a team of voluntary
students and teachers, I have helped to translate many of the educational
activities into French.
We have also started doing it in Portuguese
so that English does not act as a barrier for wider participation. Together
with other FL teachers, I organized a Language Day to raise awareness
and promote the international day of languages and the 2001 dialogue among
civilizations year. Groups of 9thgraders taught 4th/5thgraders
to introduce themselves, say their age and where they were from in English,
Spanish and German.
Last year, I contacted local NGOs and youth centres and one
has already contributed with drawings for Design
a Clock activity, which we have scanned
and published online. Plans for the future include trying to open
our school to the local community to raise our students’ awareness of
the social context they live in. I would like to engage them in positive
action so that they use their skills and knowledge to help less privileged
schools participate in the project.
The Copabacana Club (2001 – 2003)
In 2001, my
three classes of 9thgraders mustered all their resources in
order to create the
Copabacana Club in Viva
Village. The void space, with all the possibilities open before us,
invited us to get out of the beaten track and leave the rigid limits of
tradition to embark on a virtual adventure. The English classroom became
a building site where students discussed their projects and decoration
As the graphic team was not on the spot, the students had to communicate their ideas, describing exactly what they wanted either in the forums or through e-mail.
“In the happening part of the Copabacana Club, we imagined 2 rooms: the
Hall and the Event room. In this last one, concerts, award parties,
plays, fashion shows and all kinds of parties could take place. The
walls in the room would be dark red and there would be a stage in the
front, with technical equipment on it. There would be many tables with
chairs around them facing it. And in the end of the room, there would
be a bar on the right side.
In the Hall, the walls would all be covered with play posters and top models pictures.
There would also be boxes made of glass with awards and costumes from parties like Carnival inside.
In the Happening part we could talk about fashion shows, award parties, concerts, plays and parties.
We could ask these questions:
-Do you like going to plays?
-Have you ever attended a folkloric party in Brazil or in your country; what was it like
-Have you ever been to a fashion show?
-Do you have a favourite top model?
-Do you often go to concerts?
-Have you ever been to an awards party? If you
have, what was it like?” (Mariel and Candice 9th grade)
The students also sent visual material they drew or collected on the web with suggestions on how to decorate the forums. Every time a building or a modification appeared on the screen, they observed and gave their comments:
"I think that in the Copabacana club park, there should be more colours: trees with flowers of different colours like yellow, red, blue, pink...You could also put different animals like birds, butterflies, Brazilian panther (yellow with black spots)"(Stephanie).
This interaction made us taste the wealth and strength of the creative mind and allowed students to exercise their communicative skills in a real life situation.
There is still more to come, as we invite more schools to join us in different languages. In the forums, I have inserted custom-made activities and questions to provide students with the opportunity to pair with others and discuss their opinions. Last year, for instance, I designed the Copabacana restaurant food quest to animate the restaurant forum. Students practiced the vocabulary in class, searched the net for information, discussed their points of view and posted them on the restaurant forum. Other students have reacted and based on their responses we will now come to a decision, design a menu and open the restaurant for virtual clients.
REQUIREMENTS (10 points):
Local and global awareness, flexibility, critical thinking, teamwork,
and cross-cultural competence are some of the essential skills for the
21st century citizen. By fostering the use of foreign languages, encouraging
and enabling communication and reflection, these multi-classroom projects
have promoted creativity, responsible action, collaboration, respect for
others, and developed a better understanding of the complex world we live
in. I believe these are (or at least should be) the main learning skills
and objectives to attain in any school curriculum around the world.
As far as EFL learning objectives and official programs are concerned,
these projects have followed:
By participating in these projects students have also been preparing
for the recently introduced French:
B2I (Brevet Informatique et Internet/écoles et colleges) pdf file
TPE (Travaux Personnels Encadrés).
Text on L’engagement
des jeunes URL:http://www.education.gouv.fr/botexte/bo021128
The projects have increased students’ learning opportunities and cooperative
skills, maximized their exposure to the target language and promoted students’
- Improved the students’ communicative competence in the language as
they were given practice in more than vocabulary lists and grammar (they
were engaged in conversation, had to provide and obtain information,
write, read, negotiate, express feelings, emotions and exchange opinions);
- Made them use the language both within and beyond the school setting
(trip, Time forums and e-mailing, construction of Twinsite and Copabacana
Club, interview with elderly people);
- Reinforced and furthered their knowledge of other disciplines through
the target language (history, geography, global issues like peace, violence,
environment, human rights);
- Facilitated collaboration and exchange, making them gain knowledge
and understanding of other cultures (correspondence and discussions
with USA, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, Belarus, the Netherlands,
- Engaged them in critical thinking (problem solving, comparing and
contrasting through web quests and discussion with different partners);
- Helped them develop an insight into the nature of language and culture
(translations from English into French and Portuguese for Time Project);
- Gave them more autonomy (students have been increasingly encouraged
to do work in the target language on their own or in small groups, under
- Enabled direct experience and participation;
- Made them learn by doing and enabled them to see the result and value
of their work.
ASSESSMENT (10 points):
In every project, we participated in or developed, students (and teachers)
were given tasks to accomplish and clear instruction on how to proceed.
In the Time Classroom Twinning, students’ introductions to the rest of
the community culminated in burning questions and personal reflections.
After debriefing, group discussions on given themes were summarized in
group reports, or sometimes resulted in creative writing like a newspaper
article or poem.
Students were assessed on their performance individually and in groups
Before I started working with collaborative projects, I tended to concentrate
more on their performance in language skills according to pre-established
criteria in class (fluency, accuracy, organization). I did not yet have
access to rubrics online. Individual work was always marked, while group
presentations received a comment on how to improve based on a holistic
scale. After the trip to the USA, parents and students were given a
feedback evaluation sheet and I wrote an
article (in French) for the school newspaper on the students’
and participating teachers’ impressions.
Nowadays, I assess individual work per se, individual work within a group,
group synergy and Internet skills. I compose my own rubrics according
to the task to be performed and use PBL checklists, Rubric Maker and Rubistar.
For oral presentations (Time project or Viva themes), we usually have
peer feedback at the beginning and in the middle of the year. Students
note down the strong and weak points of a series of (previously prepared)
presentations by voluntary students, while I note down the language problems.
When the presenters finish, they comment on their performance and the
other students and I complement. A discussion ensues and criteria are
established together for the summative assessment presentation in the
middle of the year, which may be pre-prepared or ad-hoc. According to
what was established, I compose a rubric and distribute it to the students.
After the first summative, we check if the goals have been accomplished
and if we can move to another level the second half of the year.
Last year I tried a portfolio with my 10th graders. In the
second semester, they were assessed on the work done in class and at home,
their attitude, linguistic skills, subject knowledge, organization of
material and self -assessment. They were given rubrics on how to proceed
and were marked accordingly. Rubric:
I believe it is extremely important for us as teachers to consider and
ask for students’ feedback on their learning process and get to know their
perspectives and points of view. Therefore, at the end of the year, students’
evaluate what they did throughout the year and give suggestions according
What I liked (why);
What I disliked (why);
What I did not know;
What I learnt;
What I may improve.
“The things that I enjoyed the most however wasn't the time spent
in class, but rather the internet projects such as the forums and the
e-pals. It was an interesting activity that allowed us to meet new persons
and cultures. It was a pity that we couldn't stay in touch for very
long because of the different hemispheres and school holidays. But anyway,
I liked it while it lasted.
Another thing I liked were the classes we had to do an Internet
search for information and with it answer several questions from other
countries. I think those were the classes most persons participated
and, well, I just think they were nice.
I wasn't very keen on the classes when we used the book. However,
this is only my personal opinion and as I already knew most of the vocabulary
we learned they seemed rather boring, not because they actually were
boring but rather because I didn't learn anything new.
I think that the best classes were those were we used the computer
and communicated with people from other countries. I believe that this
is the best way of learning, actually using the language. So, I guess
that this is my suggestion, to use English rather that just learn it,
because I believe this is how we really learn.” (End of year evaluation,
Catarina C., 9th grade)
I only started assessing students on their Internet performance last
year when we finally got a fully-equipped computer room. Only then was
technology incorporated into the curriculum and evaluation criteria follow
standards (B2i), which are slowly being implemented.
According to official instructions, students and teachers are expected
to find out how to operate and interact using the new technologies. (Netiquette,
copyright, safety issues, search on the net, provide reliable sources).
Students have a series of checklists and practice the different points.
Once they feel they have understood the modus operandi and know how to
perform a certain skill, they should ask their teachers to validate their
form). This may be done formally, with the students demonstrating
what they have learnt and/or informally, during class.
Collaborative projects give me the opportunity to make the whole process
more motivating and meaningful for students and involved teachers. They
acquire the skills according to their needs and tasks presented and learn
by being plunged into action instead of just reading or being told about
Teachers and Home base Evaluation:
Time project home bases send in reports to headquarters at the end
of the year, assessing their students’ and school participation.
In the Time Classroom Twinning activity, for which I am responsible,
participating teachers evaluate project development and outcome by posting
their report on the forum in the collaborative community. This year we
are planning to meet every fortnight at Tapped in to discuss individual
problems and offer support to teachers.
In Viva, we exchange ideas on the Teachers’ Forum, Tapped In, Yahoo groups
or by e-mail.
AFFECTIVE AND OTHER OUTCOMES (10 points):
Collaborative projects bring people together and make them interact in a more relaxed atmosphere so learning becomes more significant and entertaining.
“…Another thing I liked was the Twinning Project. It was a good assignment because we had to write and search the meaning of our names and read about the others. The second part of the assignment was good too because we had to search information about Brazil to give to our friends. We could conclude that we did not know very much about the country we live in ...
I don't know what suggestion I can give ... The only thing I think it is important to continue with all these projects that make the school more fun...” (Candice N., 10th grade on Time Classroom Twinning)
Students who do not usually participate or feel excluded because the traditional way of teaching does not respect their needs or learning styles are encouraged to perform in the different contexts provided and find out that even if their grammar or vocabulary are poor, what they have to say or produce is important and valued. This restores their confidence and stimulates them to improve. Examples of two students’ messages left on the 2002 School forum at Viva Village. Their task was to tell the others about their school and how they imagined school in the future.
“ Yo man, We are Georges and Guilhem. We are in 3eme3. At school, we like the internet class and the sports class. Shur, we hate physics, mathematics and all the other boring classes (when the teachers talk, talk and we sleep). But English it’s diferent. It´s very cool.”
“I like my school because we have the choice of studying Latin, it’s much fun!!! I like physics because it’s more practical than theoric. I dislike this school because food is horrible and we don’t get modern installations like those in 1st world schools. The future school will have a computer for each student and classes will be divided according to each ones capacities and rhythm.”
Example of an end of year evaluation:
“Well, this year I have learnt a lot of things in English that I have never seen before with my others teachers in France. For example, the way that you use for teach us is very interesting: the Copabacana Restaurant and the Time project let us use the computer that is a nice thing because, we, teenagers, like to use it. However, I realize these projects were very difficult because it wasn't always easy to find the needed information. I like English but I think that I'm not very good at it especially in the oral part. I understand almost everything that you say but I don't know very well express my thought. But I think that will come with time.” (End of year evaluation, Chloé 10th grade)
Collaborative learning environments online provide a democratic platform that
facilitates social interaction, allowing students to express their feelings
and beliefs freely and receive comments from their peers. The feedback
is extremely important for them to progress as they are required to question
and make sense of their world by comparing, contrasting and checking their
knowledge and understanding.
“I liked very much the "This is our time" project, we worked with students of all grades. I am very sociable so I am very fond of working in groups with people I don't know yet. I also liked very much describing the pictures because I like expressing my ideas and speaking. The classes given in the computer room were fun and dynamic; we are freer in front of the screen…I think we should participate in more projects that involve pupils from the different classes and countries. The "game" against time is not usual at school so we enjoyed it very much.” (Milena, 9th grade on This is Our Time project)
“First of all, I want to thank all of you for answering me back. I see you are all interested in the situation of the homeless people. That gives me the hope to continue fighting for the human rights, because I can see that, like me, many people are also fighting. I think we all know that the world has many problems and that it is difficult to solve them all. But part of those problems is not that hard to solve. The first step is to make people aware of those who haven't got anything and they can help. Little by little, with patience, we will be able to make a difference. I count on you all. Don't ever give up.” (Melanie S. 11th grade in the Squat forum at Viva village)
“Continued human mismanagement of water, population growth and changing weather patterns contribute to the crisis we face today. Here in Brazil, lots of people use water indiscriminately, and after, complain that they don’t have enough water. Don’t you think that environmental education should be part of the school curriculum?” (Ariane 11th grade in the Science Lab Forum at Viva
Students feel the need to be inter- active and communicate their views.
“Hi! My name is Julie and I am a Brazilian fourteen-year-old girl. I study
at the Lycée Pasteur, a French school here at São Paulo.
Something that pleases me about this school is that Lycee is a great
school, and you're able to learn many languages very well. But I dislike
the fact that everyday we leave school at about 4pm, or
even sometimes 5:20pm... (cause I study Latin, and next
year maybe Greek)... I believe the ideal school in the future would
be one where you could learn having fun, and have serious discussions
with your friends about controversial topics. Nowadays, we aren't allowed
to talk in class, and sometimes it's a bad thing, because classes would
be much more interesting if you were able to talk about them!”(Julie,
9th grader about Communicating at School in School Forum at Viva
“I think it's a great idea to build the Copabacana Club because we can show to people abroad a different idea of Brazil. Because this country isn't only beaches, girls, parties and carnaval; Ok we've got that but it's also a country that has it's culture, traditions, arts, history... A population with a past that involves much more things than people abroad think and know. With the Copabacana Club we, Brazilians, have the opportunity to talk about the Brazil we know and live in and we will not only exchange and discuss ideas with other countries, but also learn about them. That’s what I think about this new project, and I can't wait until the club is ready to meet everyone....” (The Copabacana Club Hall, Annie, 9th grade)
PROFESSIONAL IMPACT (10 points):
I believe I have never learnt, produced and shared so much like in these
last five years. Being involved and fulfilled energizes me contributing
to students' motivation and teachers’ growing engagement in the projects.
My students’ satisfaction and high degree of involvement when participating
in the projects added to the excellent results they obtain in final exams
(both in the French baccalaureate and Brazilian vestibular), and their
easy insertion in other schools and college make me feel very enthusiastic.
Networking with other teachers and teaming up with communities other than my own has also made me develop the awareness of a larger educational context in which I can learn, help and mentor, independently from hierarchical constraints and bureaucratic unresponsiveness. This has been an extremely enriching experience. I have collaborated with professors conducting a research, interacted with colleagues from all over the world in communities online, submitted articles about my work, brought people of different levels of expertise together, assisted colleagues in their first steps and met a lot of people from all walks of life, with whom I regularly correspond and exchange experience and views.
Today, I do not come to school only to teach my students and attend scheduled meetings. In addition to my 23 teaching hours a week, I have been trying to foster an open communication channel among all members. As a volunteer I
- coordinate the foreign language department encouraging colleagues to use
collaborative learning techniques, offering support in technology and
promoting information sharing;
- take part in the newly formed ICT committee. I have helped to plan the new
computer room by making contacts with experts and visiting other schools
to find out what worked best. I am working on implementing the usage
of new technologies in the classrooms and urging teachers to experiment;
- belong to the pedagogical committee. I regularly exchange ideas with colleagues and management about the need for:
- larger teacher interaction with students, parents and the wider
- flexibility ,freedom to experiment and reflection on results obtained;
- adapting and adjusting the students' and teachers' timetable efficiently
so as to make collaborative learning possible;
- opportunities for innovation and professional growth.
We need permanent access to knowledge, exposure, interaction and opportunities
for advancement in order to fight burnout and inertia, feel inspired and
improve. If we are not actively engaged in learning, do not receive support
to carry out our work, invest in ourselves and progress, how do we expect
our students to do otherwise?
For teachers from developing countries (like many of
us who participate in This is Our Time project), who often suffer from
lack of information and opportunities to interact and progress, collaboration
projects help reduce isolation and enrich our experience. Further communication
and exchange in communities of practice widens our horizons and through
our involvement we challenge the core of conservative and bureaucratic
practices that thwart autonomy, creativity and enterprise.
PERSONAL IMPACT (10 points):
I do not regret a single moment the course I have taken. By starting from
scratch, experimenting, facing all the stumbling blocks and scepticism
met when incorporating change, I was made acutely aware of my weaknesses
and strengths. It has not been easy, as we do not benefit from any grants
or teaching time discharge to plan and develop this work. When setting
up these collaborative projects, I also had to put to practice a whole
array of management and organizational skills which are not usually required
in traditional classroom teaching. I believe I have grown both personally
During my own evolution, while figuring out how to use the new technologies
and include them in my teaching, I was constantly reminded that learning
takes time and is not linear. Each individual has her/his own rhythm,
needs and style. We are all at different stages of development and we
do not necessarily learn and understand what we are taught at a particular
moment. However, we certainly learn better when we are given responsibilities
and are involved in activities that are meaningful and productive. I have
also felt how important it is to be heard and trusted, receive support
and encouragement to keep confident and move forward.
This re-construction of the learning process together with close observation
in-action and reflection on-action has given me a deeper insight and a
wider outlook on my classroom practice, students'/teachers' motivations
and community needs.
The journey has by no means come to an end, and I believe it never will.
There will always be room for improvement and change, students and teachers
to help and encourage, a quality issue to fight for, and new ideas to
try out. This is exactly what makes this collaborative learning – teaching
- learning so creative, productive and exciting. You never learn so well
as when you have to teach … and you never teach so well as when you learn.
I also found out that keeping trace of discussions, ideas, what we did,
how this was received and communicating the whole process to others, like
for instance I am doing now, makes you (and others) see clearer and progress.
PROMOTING YOUR PROJECTS (10 points):
In order to promote This is Our Time Project I
As participant and host of the Copabacana Club at Viva Village I have
DIRECT PROJECT ASSISTANCE (10 points):
The most important assistance is the permanent contact, the open communication, information and support channel you establish with the partners involved. As coordinator of a Time home base I have used:
E-mailing: to invite, give general information about the project, point out activities which may be more appropriate for this school or another, clear doubts, correct students’ work, comment on it and give them advice, mentor and guide individual teachers in technical or pedagogical issues, give support and remind partners of timelines.
Forums: to discuss different themes and project outcomes so that
everyone can have access and go back to the threaded messages at their
Time Classroom Twinning Community: to leave suggestions to/from different participants, exchange folders, organize lists of students and classrooms in cooperative groups, post lesson plans, tips on twinning, instructions on how to enrol in forums, post news and keep a timeline.
Tapped in – to bring people together in a friendly environment and discuss plans and points of view, project sites and develop activities.
Website: translation from Time in English to French
so that all schools can have permanent access to the project: information,
activities and contributions. I also maintain my own website on which
I post instructions to students and lesson
Our students’ enthusiasm and involvement in Viva Village has generated a spark that activated a lot of teachers and ideas. The Copabacana Club is the result of interaction among the students with the graphic designers and different partners. I offer direct assistance to the project by working together with students and teachers on the different forums provided in the village. I post questions for them to answer and suggest activities. I participate in discussion lists with other teachers and attend Tapped In meetings to share the experience I am having with my classes.
EMPOWERING OTHERS (10 points):
students) working in bureaucratic and authoritarian environments are the
ones who are the most exposed to stress, anxiety and bitterness. Their
contributions are systematically ignored, their initiatives curtailed
and their creativity mocked so they do not feel that change is worth it.
How to respond to colleagues who write:
I didn't take part in the project you suggested last summer but things
are rather difficult in my school and individual initiatives are not well
considered. It is a very stuffy atmosphere !"
I believe that
the first step is to listen to them and encourage communication and interaction
so that they can vent their feelings and difficulties, share their successes
and get positive support. As this is sometimes impossible in the workplace
due to time constraints or unfavourable conditions, I introduce them to
mailing lists, communities of practice or professional development platforms
online. There they become acquainted with what other teachers are experimenting
with at different levels of expertise. There they can contact others who
may have faced similar situations. There they will find an atmosphere
of mutual trust where people respect each other's knowledge.
When you start
contributing informally with what you know without being scorned by "experts",
you feel more self-assured and willing to involve yourself. From a grumpy,
frustrated order taker or overwrought support seeker, you gradually learn
to learn, become more sensitive to other people's plights and start giving
assistance. As you begin valuing your own voice, you become more autonomous,
more creative and more motivated to engage in transformation.
colleagues to include the collaborative dimension in their learning and
teaching, I have formed a group of teachers and students interested in
translating the educational material of This is Our Time project into
French and Portuguese. By facilitating the contact of other schools, they
are introduced to the material and how to use it in their everyday teaching.
The satisfaction and pride in seeing that what they know may help others,
and that their work is real, recognized and valued, motivates the students
and encourages teachers to develop collaborative work in their classrooms.
Outside school, I participate in and contribute to various online forum
communities and lists.
At Tapped In
At European Schoolnet
At Escola do Futuro Web quest Chat
about my experience with web quests in EFL
- Invite people to talk about their projects (Viva)
- Co-moderate some chats acting as translator (Bernie
Dodge, Phil Benz)
- Help EFL teachers in France to integrate ICT to their classes by
sharing resources, lesson plans and the information I have.
Last year, I gave a
workshop on This
is Our Time project for Language Teachers at Cyberlangues2002
in Bordeaux, France.
As the cyber path unravels before us, we share and produce more, facilitating
the access of schools with fewer opportunities and resources. We create
and build with more quality with the partners involved and the colleagues
who join us, motivated by good practice and support.
I would like to thank all with whom I have travelled along this road.
Some prodded me when I was weary; others offered me their expertise and
trust. They have all contributed by sharing instead of hoarding. I have
tried to follow their lead.