Open eTwinning Course : Project Plan (Unit 5 Weekly Challenge)

By the time they are 11 (fifth grade in Romania), my students of English as a foreign language have become independent readers and range from the late developmental to the transitional stage. They are more adept at silent reading, and comprehension of text begins to be emphasized in the classroom. For children at this level, reading is becoming a tool for finding information and a means of leisure time enjoyment. They are able to evoke more imagery and become less dependent on pictures. These transitional readers are more likely to become absorbed in a book, and most of my students when they are seventh graders (age 13) reach the late transitional stages, in which they read suitable texts with ease and confidence in English, as well as with speed and flexibility. At the same time, these students aged 11-13 have begun to write independently, both formally and informally. Their informal writing consists of lists, clusters, annotated drawings, charts, notes, records of events, and other similar documents; formal writing includes letters to people, reports, and stories. Abilities in formal writing are best developed with a “process approach” that goes through five distinct phases: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Using this approach helps students more fully understand the process of producing formal written documents, such as magazines and newspapers. I utilize this approach to writing almost exclusively. One crucial point to note is that children this age like to share their writing. Sharing with others helps students feel that their writing has a purpose and audience beyond the teacher with her ever-present red pencil. In addition, writing is an extremely powerful learning tool. Writing requires that students really think about what they know. Writing enables students to take information and synthesize and apply it in new ways. The search for meaning seems to be the driving force for children’s development of reading and writing. Children use literacy as a means to make sense both of the world around them and of the language system they are exposed to. Hence, encouraging students to read and write in ways that allow them to make sense of real language in real contexts is more likely to help them develop the skills necessary to become fluent readers and writers. Creation of a magazine provides such a real context, and thus makes an excellent choice as the basis for a project designed with this goal in mind.








Here is some pertinent information about the project I have in mind to develop, “Intercultural School Magazine”:

The students’ English language level (A1, A2 and so on, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), the level of their ICT skills (basic, intermediate, advanced) and their interests/passions need to be taken into account before starting the project.

When beginning the project, the schedule is to be made, taking into consideration the holiday times of all countries involved and defining start date and deadline for each task.

More teachers from the same school are invited – the teacher of Art, the Computer Studies teacher, the mother tongue teacher etc.

Accounts for students are created in the TwinSpace, ice-breaking takes place, the transnational groups are created – each with a name (decided through a poll voting tool such as EasyPolls), a badge/emblem (produced with LogoGarden for instance) and a short description.

After each activity evaluation follows, using online survey tools such as SurveyMonkey.


The final product being a magazine composed of articles, I see the launch of the project as a lesson of careful examination of magazines brought to class. Children make lists of the things they find and examine specific articles for the basic characteristics of title, byline, and body. Various aspects of the magazine are to be explored now as well, including headlines, letters to the editor, structure, magazine staff.


The students decide which parts of a magazine are most useful to their intended audience: their parents, the student body, and the teachers at the school. Then they list the staff positions required for the production of each part of the magazine, as, apart from being writers, artists, photographers and so on, they need to perform specific responsibilities as members of the magazine staff.

Direct Instruction:

The students are presented with different kinds of articles suitable for their magazine (writing a recipe, describing a sport / an event, writing a report etc.).

Guided Instruction / Practice:

The students learn about the different kinds of articles suitable for the magazine and write their articles using the ‘writing process’ with the 5 steps: prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.


The articles are peer-assessed, edited, corrected, changed.

[Direct Instruction, Guided Instruction / Practice and Assessment are repeated in transnational groups for each specific kind of article.]

Wrap-up / Closure:

The magazine is printed, and then a similar multimedia version is produced, with the articles, pictures and artwork but also with some “bells and whistles” (multimedia components, video clips, sounds etc.) – Joomag is a possible tool.

Here is a template for the first 2 steps in the process approach to writing: (topic here: good TV-watching habits, in the curriculum for the PERSONAL UNIVERSE).

As students write their articles, stories, and jokes, the steps in the writing process – prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing – are reinforced, and so is power writing. The students learn how to write better, and discover that sharing their written work provides a sense of accomplishment and adds relevancy to the classroom. They also learn about real jobs done by real people. Plus they learn to work together.

The computer is a tool that can enhance the learning process in the classroom by making it fun and by providing a means of sharing work with others. The students can become very excited when they see their own work printed or on the screen. They develop self-esteem when they see themselves published, they feel good about themselves.

The greatest reward for me would be for them to want a second issue of the magazine!











Open eTwinning Course – Designing an e-activity

The title of my project is “Intercultural School Magazine”. The e-activity I would like to present is included in the project. The students work in transnational groups of 4-5. Age: 11-13. Time: 100 minutes. Each group will do the first 2 steps in the writing process (1. prewriting; 2. drafting – to be followed by: 3. revising; 4. editing; 5. publishing) for an article in the magazine on a given topic, i.e. good TV-watching habits.


  • to evaluate good TV-watching habits;
  • to use ICT to present work;
  • to develop collaborative skills.

Work process:

– make the collaborative team(s);

– adapt a rubric with the aspects to be evaluated;

– open and work on a collaborative Google doc;

– upload photos about TV-watching habits in each country;

– write information about these in English;

– present their findings in the TwinSpace of the project, which will be evaluated by another group / other groups using the rubric;

– collect and summarize the work and draft the article;

– reflect in a collaborative Padlet on the strengths and weaknesses of this activity.

#etwion – Race of the Smiles

Yesterday evening I joined more than 150 educators in the first #etwion Twitter marathon.

I took part in its first 3 hours, and read the tweets of the last two earlier today. Every hour there was a new discussion topic. Here’s the programme:

1703 tweets got sent during the 5 hours – 33 were mine, which put me on the list of top tweeters at number 8. 🙂

All this was possible due to two great teachers I am proud to know and appreciate: Arjana Blazic and Bart Verswijvel. They organized and conducted the Twitterathon. Here are their impressions of the event: Arjana’s and Bart’s.

Many friends of mine tweeted with us – and as modern and sophisticated as it may look, Twitter turned out to be our supporter, letting us throw various hues of the eTwinning pallette on the educational canvas and welcoming every bit.

Here’s the story created from the #etwion tweets: – read through it, you are bound to find numerous useful links and ideas!

The evaluation of the event is still underway – you can find it here:

This was an amazing display of enthusiasm for eTwinning – I will make sure I will join next time too! Thank you, dear companions!



Screenshots – all mine; a warm thankyou to @sfistrovic for the Wordle.

eTwinning and Glogster Workshop at the Express Publishing Conference in Romania – May 2013


The conference “Re-looking ESL: Where we are and where we are going” was organized by Express Publishing and was dedicated to the Romanian teachers of English. It was held in Sibiu, Romania, on 17-19 May 2013.

Hotel Ana

On Friday May 17th I presented the workshop entitled “Making Glogster EDU Waves within eTwinning” to a number of 21 teachers of English from countries in South-East Europe.


My idea was inspired really: to introduce eTwinning and Glogster and talk about how these platforms can make / do make waves – with the best meaning of the phrase – in education today. Because producing sensation can cause change, and the challenges laid before us by eTwinning and Glogster push us towards opening a lot of new doors.

Room 2

eTwinning projects are a challenge indeed. We develop – while working in eTwinning projects – new methods of teaching, of learning, of assessment, we use ICT, we reflect, we share experiences… We are more complex, we understand better other peoples and other cultures, and also what the future can offer us.

We build part of the future ourselves, and the tools we use describe the ubiquitousness of eTwinning and its specific spontaneity and speed. Glogster is one of these tools, providing motivation, inspiration and new ways of expressing one’s creativity and imagination.


This was a successful workshop, from the trainer’s point of view 🙂

I am confident that the waves are still travelling… They have touched your shores as well, haven’t they? What’s the feeling?

Thank you,





Photos – all my own.

Web 2.0 Tools in eTwinning – Learning Event Starting Tomorrow

Another exciting eTwinning Learning Event is about to start. Tomorrow on the 30th of January 2013 the first Learning Event of the year will commence in the eTwinning Learning Lab – and its title says it all: “Web 2.0 Tools in eTwinning”. Led by expert Robert Conings, teacher of Computer Science for 25 years now, coming from Belgium, an eTwinning ambassador for a few months now, this 2-week online course promises a useful and at the same time entertaining journey through – and with – numerous Web 2.0 tools in an educational setting in general, and within eTwinning projects in particular.

Today’s students are different from the students who graduated let’s say 10 years ago. These students are the ‘digital natives’ futurist Marc Prensky envisioned more than a decade ago – they have grown up with technology, that is technology is an intrinsic part of their lives. So they expect technology to be used at school as well. By doing this we teachers ‘speak their native language’, and by using Web 2.0 tools in instruction and when doing projects we become part of the texture of their daily lives.

The tasks in this Learning Event address these students’ teachers, aiming at providing them with the right tool at the right time for the right activity 🙂 It is a course for beginners, but even advanced users will be glad to discover a tip or two.

I joyfully participated in the designing of a section of this Learning Event – the part on Glogster EDU.

This Web 2.0 platform allows its users to easily upload photos, videos, audio, text, graphics and create online interactive posters for use in several key subjects including Maths, Science, History, Languages, Technology, Art, Photography, Music and more. Moreover, Glogster EDU can be turned into a virtual classroom where the teacher creates an account and registers students and/or projects, and assigns tasks for the class to work on. The teachers in the Learning Event “Web 2.0 Tools in eTwinning” will take the role of students and work collaboratively – but I do not intend to give too much away! I will enthusiastically moderate the Glogster EDU Forum of the eTwinning Event starting the 8th of February.

Welcome to all participants, and I hope we will have a fruitful course! Thank you, Robert, and the best of luck!


Glogster EDU within eTwinning Learning Event

Starting tomorrow I will be part of a team of eTwinners facilitating a one-week online course entitled “Creative writing in eTwinning – a hands-on experience”. This is a Learning Event, in the series organised within eTwinning with great success for the past three years.

The main purpose of this particular course is to involve the participants (125 as of today) in hands-on writing activities that can be used with their students and in their educational projects. It will be a collaborative and entertaining experience for sure!

Not giving away too much, please have a look at one such hands-on task prepared for this event.

As an ice-breaking activity, the teachers who are taking part in this course are asked to introduce themselves using a web 2.0 tool. The facilitators have been asked by the course leader, Irene Pateraki, from the Greek National Support Service, to do the same – and our introductions are already in the Lab. Here is mine, made with Glogster EDU:

(Please click on the image to be taken to the glog.)

I hope many teachers will choose Glogster too to introduce themselves! 🙂

I wish us all an extremely successful Learning Event!



Screenshot I made myself, with Greenshot.

An Open Window for New eTwinners

Earlier this evening I had the splendid opportunity to talk in front of 21 Greek teachers of all levels of education – pre-primary, primary, secondary – as part of an eTwinning meeting organised for them by Greek teacher Maria Georgiadou, fellow eTwinning ambassador and a dear personal friend of mine, with the help of Irene Pateraki, Greek NSS.

The meeting took place in a classroom at the 1st High School Ippokratio of Kos Island, where I ‘arrived’ by means of Blackboard Collaborate!

Thus, relying on video-conferencing, I presented 7 tools that my students and I use in eTwinning projects. They represent an eclectic collection of tools, and I specifically tried to select different kinds of tools according to the various activities and tasks that can happen in an eTwinning project.

For instance, if you consider the life of an eTwinning project, perhaps you have had an idea for a project and you would like to advertise it in the ‘Find eTwinners’ area of your Desktop – now imagine that, instead of just writing about it, potential partners are presented with your idea in the form of a project trailer! This can be achieved by employing an amazingly user-friendly tool called Animoto, which takes your photos, your text and the most suitable music, and turn all these into stunning video slideshows – short masterpieces really! They can be easily exported to YouTube and embedded in the TwinSpace or elsewhere.

We then saw what we could opt for when we have found the right partner/partners and perhaps we need to have a brainstorming session so that the aims, the work process, the expected results can be decided upon… At this point I urged them to take advantage of a virtual wall and post on it all their ideas – sharing! For this, there is Wallwisher – but you can do more, a lot more. Be creative! Build a wall soon!

I then asked the attendees to imagine that their students need to introduce themselves – a great tool to adopt to do just that is Voki, which is a service that creates speaking avatars for which one can use one’s own voice!

Another tool that I talked to them briefly about is Myebook, which helps create an online book or magazine – as an end product for a project, for example. I know, maybe you think that the smell of ink on paper will be lost, but this is how things are nowadays, am I right? And we do need to keep up.

Next tool had to do with social networking a little. Social networks are here to stay too, and one of them is Glogster, which allows users to create online posters, called glogs. A glog is an interactive multimedia image that looks like a poster, but viewers/readers can interact with the content. Currently this social network has over one million registered users. We can use Glogster all throughout our projects, for different presentations.

The next two tools I told them about could easily be called auxiliaries when working with text. Wordle is a ‘toy’ for generating “word clouds” from the text that one provides. Such a cloud gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. This is very useful, in my experience, for editing your own – or your students’ – texts. The more often a certain word appears, the bigger it will come out in the Wordle. So you need to use synonyms instead!

Diigo is a tool for bookmarking websites – sites that you have seen that they are useful for you, and you want to be able to get back to them at some point in the future. By tagging the Diigo entries carefully, you will be able to find the right website in a flash!

I really hope this assembly of tools will prove valuable for you as well, in the future, as they have for me. Thank you, dear Greek teachers, for a great evening of learning and sharing!


All screenshots my own, made with Greenshot.