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Barbara Dieu
Teacher High School/Secondary (ages 14-18)
    Lycée Pasteur - Curso Experimental Bilingue
Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil
Division Category: An Educator in the U.S.A.; Projects for ages 12 to 19

Candidate Personal Narrative

NAME:  Barbara Wanda Juzwiak Dieu
  1. History
  2. Projects
  3. Collaboration
  4. Learning Requirements
  5. Assessment
  6. Affective and Other Outcomes
  1. Professional Impact
  2. Personal Impact
  3. Promoting your Project
  4. Direct Project Assistance
  5. Empowering Others

HISTORY (10 points)      TOP

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):    TOP

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 collaboration rubric.

1997 – 1998 USA Connection
Narrative URL:

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, involving 43 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:

1999 - 2000 – Global Perspectives
Project URL:

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:
Narrative URL:

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:

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 choose from:


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)

Connecting Through Peace (2000)

Dialogue Among Civilizations (2001)

Respecting Diversity (2002)

As a result of our classes’ active collaboration and involvement, the Lycée Pasteur was invited to become Time multilingual home base (French and Portuguese 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 Classmate
(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 in 2000.

2001-2003 – The Copabacana Club

Viva, 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 in sports, music, events, restaurant, and 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, the homeless, museums, European enlargement, holidays and school 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 é Preciso

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 plan)
Classes involved from our school: 9th, 10th and 11th grades (130 students)
Objectives: develop 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 (100 students)
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):    TOP
Completed Projects

USA Connection (1997- 1998)

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 e-pals).

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)

At the 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 the home 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”.

Ongoing Projects    

This is Our Time (1999-2003)

Time 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 ideas.

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.


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 in French

TPE (Travaux Personnels Encadrés).

Text on L’engagement des jeunes URL:

The projects have increased students’ learning opportunities and cooperative skills, maximized their exposure to the target language and promoted students’ self-reliance. They

  • 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, France, Italy…);
  • 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 teacher supervision);
  • 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):    TOP

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 as to:

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 to:

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 French 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 competence (online 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 it.

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.


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 Village)

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 Village)

“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)


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:
    1. larger teacher interaction with students, parents and the wider community;
    2. flexibility ,freedom to experiment and reflection on results obtained;
    3. adapting and adjusting the students' and teachers' timetable efficiently so as to make collaborative learning possible;
    4. 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):    TOP

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 and professionally.

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.


In order to promote This is Our Time Project I

As participant and host of the Copabacana Club at Viva Village I have


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 own time.

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 and Portuguese 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 plans.

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.


Colleagues (and 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:

"Sorry 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.

Besides encouraging 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

  • Talk 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)

At E-Teach

  • 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.