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THE HISTORY OF ETWINNING PRIZES (2006-2011)

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on February 27, 2011

THE HISTORY OF eTWINNING PRIZES (2006-2011)

Dear eTwinners,

While I was waiting for the announcement of eTwinning Prizes 2011, I thought of researching the history of this event. Especially, I would like to answer novice eTwinners’ querries about this competition so that they would feel prepared to initiate their own future virtual school partnerships. In what follows, I summarise my research findings in a question-and-answer format.

What have been the eTwinning prizes’ entry requirements?

First of all, the school partners’ projects must have won a European Quality Label by the Central Support Service (CSS). This distinction of excellence allows them to enter the competition, because it recognises that their joint works have got previously qualified with National Quality Labels (for two project partners, at least) by their respective National Support Services (NSS). In other words, their national accreditation has been carried out before the annual European assessment takes place. For example, the shortlist 2006 included projects from the 2004-2005 school year.

What have been the categories of the eTwinning prizes’ competition?

In 2006, the prizes were awarded to two broad age groups (5-12 and 13-19 year-olds) each of which was divided in three subcategories: school collaboration, pedagogical innovation and digital resources. However, in 2007, three age groups were formed (4-11, 12-15, 16-19 year-olds). In 2008, the boundaries of the age groups slightly changed (4-10, 11-14, 15-19 year-olds) and one special prize category was launched, that is the Science and Maths. In 2009, the age groups’ boundaries were the same as those in 2007, while one more special prize category was added, that of the French Language. Last year’s age categories did not change, neither have this year’s. Morever, in 2010’s competition two new special prize categories were introduced: the Spanish Language and the Creative Use of Digital Media. In 2011, there was no separate category for the creative use of ICT, while two all-new special prize categories, the Italian Language and the Language of a Neighbouring Country have been launched.

When and where did the prize-giving ceremonies take place?

From its very beginning, the prize-giving ceremony has been held during the annual eTwinning Conference. In this way, on 13 January 2006, the winners of the first eTwinning prizes were announced in Linz, Austria. Next, on 23 February 2007 the eTwinning prize winners were revealed in Brussels, Belgium, whereas on 16 March 2008 the ceremony took place in Bucharest, Romania. On 13 February 2009, the eTwinning finalists and winners’ announcement was celebrated in Prague, the Czech Republic and on 5 February 2010 in Seville, Spain. This year, on 31 March 2011, we are going to enjoy the awarding ceremony in Budapest, Hungary.

What has been the nationality of the winners?

Within the five-year’s celebration of eTwinning prizes, more and more European countries are embracing this initiative. So far, 33 NSSs have joined in which means that a multicultural and multilingual scenery has been created. Leaving aside any countries’ differences in terms of population, registered schools in eTwinning or their NSS’s entry year, I am giving a report of the winners’ nationality in overall numbers: Spain (12 times), Poland and Italy (10 times), Slovakia and Romania (7 times), France, Lithuania and the Czech Republic (5 times), Portugal (4 times), the United Kingdom, Malta, Norway, Germany, Greece, Sweden and Bulgaria (3 times), Finland, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Cyprus and Turkey (2 times), Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Iceland and Slovenia (1 time).

NSS Countries Winners ΄06 Winners ΄07 Winners ΄08 Winners ΄09 Winners ΄10 Winners ΄11 Total
1 United Kingdom (UK) 1 0 1 0 1 3
2 Malta (MT) 1 0 0 0 2 3
3 Finland (FI) 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
4 Norway (NO) 1 0 0 0 1 1 3
5 Spain (ES) 1 1 1 1 5 3 12
6 Poland (PL) 1 1 1 2 4 1 10
7 Germany (DE) 1 0 1 0 1 3
8 Slovakia (SK) 2 1 0 1 2 1 7
9 France (FR) 1 0 1 1 1 1 5
10 Italy (IT) 2 1 1 1 2 3 10
11 Lithuania (LT) 1 1 1 0 2 5
12 Greece (GR) 2 0 0 0 0 1 3
13 Czech Republic (CZ) 1 1 0 2 1 5
14 Belgium (BE) 1 0 1 0 0 2
15 Sweden (SE) 0 0 1 1 1 3
16 Ireland (IE) 0 0 0 1 0 1
17 Portugal (PT) 0 0 0 2 2 4
18 Hungary (HU) 0 0 0 1 0 1 2
19 Romania (RO) 0 0 0 2 3 2 7
20 Latvia (LV) 0 0 0 1 1 2
21 Bulgaria (BG) 0 0 0 1 2 3
22 Austria (AT) 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
23 Croatia (HR) 0 0 0 0 0 0
24 Cyprus (CY) 0 0 0 0 1 1 2
25 Denmark (DK) 0 0 0 0 1 1
26 Estonia (EE) 0 0 0 0 1 1
27 Iceland (IS) 0 0 0 0 1 1
28 Luxembourg (LU) 0 0 0 0 0 0
29 Netherlands (NL) 0 0 0 0 0 0
30 Slovenia (SI) 0 0 0 0 1 1
31 Turkey (TR) 0 0 0 0 1 1 2

What have been the subjects and topics of the awarded projects?

First and foremost, projects are crosscurricular while at the same time based on the national syllabus of each school subject. So far, school partnerships have chosen to work on various subjects, such as History, Literature, Art, Drama, Music, Citizenship, Social Studies/ Sociology, Religious Education, Geography, Maths/ Geometry, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Natural Sciences, Environmental Education, Health Studies, European Studies, Media Education, Classical Languages (Latin & Greek) and Modern Languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian). In addition, some vocational schools have selected more specialised subjects to deal with (Design and Technology, Economics). Also, sometimes, projects come as a follow-up of or as a starter for a Comenius partnership project. However, communication in one or more official European languages along with the use of ICT skills have been an integral part of their work process, but also sometimes among the main learning objectives to be achieved.

The topics tend to be practical, relevant to students’ everyday lives and interests, while aiming at their physical, psychological-emotional, cognitive and social development. Age categories differentiate with respect to the emphasis put on each of them, yet successful projects have greatly involved students (teachers and, sometimes, the entire community), encouraged them to be more active learners and citizens, increased their motivation, self-expression and creativity, whereas they have fostered friendships. Some of the projects have dealt with international themes (Cyberbullying, social networking tools, migration, European identity, variety of religions), whereas others with intercultural ones (food habits, lifestyles, attitudes, costumes, traditions, folklore, monuments, famous places, myths and legends, fairy tales, significant dates in the year).

What are the tools preferred by the winners?

The winning projects have used the eTwinning Desktop Tools, the TwinSpace Tools, virtual learning environments (communities, virtual classes), audio/video conferencing, forums, chats, blogs and podcasts, galleries of ecards and photos, multimedia material, tools of social networking, wikis, software for presentations, pictures and drawings, math software, videos, digital resources, Google maps and emails, of course.

What are the skills developed and the winning products?

First of all, students have worked in teams to carry out their various tasks. They have done some library and/or WWW research, exchanged cultural information, discussed, commented and evaluated partners’ works, searched for differences and similarities in their cultural and linguistic heritage. Moreover, they have shared experiences and opinions, given feedback on media material and developed their understanding, appreciation and respect for other cultures.

Catering for the skills above means that the students have also improved their language and ICT skills. Apart from traditional reading and writing on-paper skills, they have practised online reading, blogging, recording audio-visual digital formats, producing films, making online journals, uploading digital material, creating mind-maps, taking interviews and reporting on school events. Among other things, school partners have collaborated on articles, poems, short stories, critical essays, guide tips for film making, film reviews and active ways of learning languages for more autonomous learning.

What is the evaluation process?

Firstly, the applications are judged by a national panel and secondly by a European one. In this way, various shortlists are proposed till the last stage whereby an independent panel of experts from the European Commission, the Pedagogical Advisory Group for eTwinning, the Central Support Service, and national Ministries of Education make the final decision.

From the outset of the competition, projects have been ranked with respect to achieving outstanding school collaboration and interaction, pedagogically appropriate innovation (e.g. to the age of pupils) and lots of creative, purposeful digital resources. Besides, the projects’ sustainability and transferability characteristics as well as their benefits and tangible outcomes are highly praised. Finally, legal and ethical issues have to be properly addressed.

What were the awards for pupils and their teachers respectively?

Students and teachers alike gain learning experiences in an enjoyable way. They share opinions and ideas, open up their schools to other European cultures and develop themselves as individuals and professionals. Yet, eTwinning awards aim to enhance these advantages by granting prizes to winners and runners-up.
In particular, the first prizes were educational trips for teachers and students to eTwinning Camps in Lanzarote (April 2006), in Sicily (April 2007), in Vimeiro (May 2008), in Thessaloniki (April 2009) and in Malaga (September/October 2010). The special categories have been sponsored by various stakeholders (European Schoolnet, eSkills Week, the Spanish Ministry of Education, the eTwinning National Support Service in France, the eTwinning National Support Service in Italy and Accademia della Crusca, the European Commission’s Multilingualism unit, the eTwinning National Support Service in Hungary), with prizes such as study grants, school equipment or participation to conferences. The runners-up (teachers) have participated in professional development European workshops and teacher training events.

Reference Weblinks
eTwinning portal
Schools in Europe achieve creativity and innovation through eTwinning online projects
35,000 schools now involved in eTwinning virtual school partnerships
eTwinning: ‘Virtual’ European school partnerships come of age
eTwinning: 10,000 schools are now registered!
eTwinning: conference in Linz to celebrate the achievements of the ‘virtual’ school partnerships
eTwinning : a new initiative from the European Commission (Questions and Answers)
eTwinning Conference Linz, 13 January 2006
eTwinning Conference Brussels, 14 January 2005
eTwinning: a virtual place for real creativity
eTwinning 2.0: Building the community for schools in Europe
eTwinning
eTwinning: Online school partnerships celebrate their fifth anniversary
Schools in Europe show creativity and innovation through eTwinning online projects
Cyber-community for schools
eTwinning Prizes 2009: the five winning projects

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Combating Poverty & Social Exclusion

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on January 30, 2011

Dear eTwinners,

There have been some months since I wrote you the activities of the Greek National Support Service. Well, in my summer blog posts – just to keep things orderly – new plans had been announced for the current school year. (If you need to refresh your memory, you could refer to the blog post published on 8th of August, 2010.) So, last year was dedicated to Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion by the Greek eTwinning NSS. To celebrate it, schools of primary and secondary education were invited to participate in a national competition on this topic by creating posters. The submission deadline was set on 6th December 2010.

Before I present you with the results of the competition, I will describe the eligibility criteria. For schools to apply they first had to be enrolled in the eTwinning Desktop. With this condition met, they also had to be carrying out a relevant theme project and/or their teachers be members of the e-Network for the European Year 2010 and/or their teachers be subscribed to the online NSS workshop for “Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion”. As far as the making of posters was concerned, there were no specific restrictions. Any suitable technique, material and colour could be used. Yet, copyright and data protection issues had to be taken into account. The final product was delivered in an electronic format (either as a scanned picture or as a digital photo of a 600 pixels x 840 pixels and 5MB size maximum).
Students’ projects were evaluated by an independent committee appointed by officers of the Greek Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs. Their evaluation was based on the following set of criteria: the poster’s coherence with the topic of the contest, its aesthetic value and the clarity of the message conveyed.


PRIMARY EDUCATION

A Prize was awarded to the poster number 39 by D1 class of the Primary School MEGALI PANAGIA titled: “Children all over the world have a right to live.”

A first Honour was awarded to the poster number 14 by the student Leonardo Kogia of the 10th Primary School ILIOUPOLI titled: “Poverty”.

A second Honour was awarded to the poster number 57 by a group of 13 students and their class assistant Argyri Papadaki of the Private Nursery School MIKRO ERGASTIRI titled: “We look different… But we feel the same.”

SECONDARY EDUCATION

A Prize was awarded to the poster number 42 by the 2nd Grade (16 students) of the 1st Junior High School ZEFYRIOU titled: “Poverty – education- neglect”.

A first Honour was awarded to the poster number 33 by Eleftheria Mourtidou of the 6th Senior High School ILIOU titled: “Poverty will kill us”.

A second Honour was awarded to the poster number 31 by Claudio Mita of the 6th Senior High School ILIOU titled: “Without words”.

The gallery with all contestants’ posters can be accessed via the following link.
My congratulations to ALL of you!

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eTwinning Magazine January

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on January 22, 2011

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eTwinning Radio

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on September 27, 2010

dj Stay tuned!

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News pieces from September

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on September 26, 2010

Hello eTwinners all over Europe!

Welcome back (from summer vacations)!
I believe that you will have started to teach and planning ahead for the new school year. As an eTwinning member, I should admit that I have felt nice working with colleagues from various educational backgrounds while participating in the previous year’s Learning Labs events. I hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to further collaborate in some school projects.
So, wishing to share more with you, I will keep reporting on the latest news concerning the Greek National Support Service (NSS) actions.

5th National eTwinning competition
Did you carry out an eTwinning project with Greek partners in the school years 2008-09 and/or 2009-10? Was it awarded with the National Quality Label? Have you talked with them recently? Well, you must be wondering why I am asking all these questions…… The reason is that your Greek school counterpart can apply for the 5th National eTwinning competition.
How much time is left? Within four days’ time they must submit their entries unless they have already done so.

A few things about the rules
The competition is aimed at students’ groups of a wide age range (5-12, 13-15 and 16-19 years old): Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools. Apart from those categories, the projects under selection cover two additional ones, that is a Comenius-eTwinning and an Environmental theme. Applicants’ submissions are eligible only for one of these five categories.
The evaluation scheme is going to take place in two stages. At the first stage, five candidates will be shortlisted for each category while, at the second final stage, two will be awarded a prize. Among the selection criteria, special emphasis is placed on the Twinblog progress reports and the publication of their project outcomes, but also on the sufficient completion of the application form fields.

Awards ceremony – Attendance of the event
The ceremony event is going to be held at the premises of the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs in October/November 2010 on a date to be announced. The ten winners will be rewarded with trips to attend Professional Development European Workshops and/or ICT equipment for the school institutions and their students.

For entries submission, you can click here

Hurry up! :)

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Coming soon to the Greek NSS: eTwinning Nets 10/11 sy

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on August 8, 2010

creativity net
Dear eTwinners,

I have wonderful news! The Greek National Support Service (NSS) for eTwinning is going to launch two topic-based e-networks (communities of practice) in September 1st, 2010. The first topic is about the European Year 2010 for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion and the second about the European Year 2009 of Creativity and Innovation. Both communities are set to support teachers who intend to collaborate with European schools on such theme projects in the school year 2010-2011. Any teachers interested to participate can subscribe in advance by completing the online application forms for each e-Network. For your convenience, you can click EY2010 and EY2009.

The role of those e-Networks is:

to encourage and guide teachers through planning and implementing successful eTwinning projects step-by-step (e.g. pedagogical objectives, ICT tools, evaluation),
to model activities, games and lesson plans to be used as such or adapted to their teaching context,
to provide them with useful educational resources on those topics,
to support them with forums for discussing, sharing ideas and collaborating,
to make their end-product public to other community members,
to organise online contests for the best and most innovative teaching practices.

In particular, the Creativity e-Network seeks to enhance learner-centred objectives, such as students’ active participation and development of their creativity. Moreover, multimodal literacies are fostered, ranging from traditional language-communication, maths, science and social skills to digital literacies.

The rationale behind launching the Greek e-Networks

According to the Greek NSS, although the European Union is one of the richest regions in the world, 16% of European citizens find it hard to make ends meet, and 79 million people are below poverty threshold. In Europe, one out of ten household members are totally unemployed. Moreover, about 8% of the European population being now employed cannot ensure themselves an escape from poverty. In addition, nearly one out of five children is in danger of poor bringing-up with lifelong implications.

Taking into account that poverty and social exclusion impact on society, the EU has initiated a campaign for combating those social phenomena. On the one hand, it aims to highlight the human rights of dignity and social inclusion, and on the other hand, to raise awareness of collective responsibility and action for achieving this.

On the Greek eTwinning portal, as far as the second e-Network is concerned, we can read about the importance of creativity for human life. By considering it a synonym for innovation, open-mindedness and flexible problem-solving skills, the full development of one’s creative potential seems to be lying in a free open society that promotes a multilingual and multicultural democracy.

Significant research work has been done in the field of creativity and its manifestations (De Bono, 2003; Gardner, 1993; Runco & Albert, 1990; Sternberg & Lubart, 1991 κ.α.). The crucial role of school in students’ development of creativity is highly acknowledged by scientific studies. With respect to this, formal education curriculum should open up new ways for students’ creativity outlet (Lynch & Harris, 2001; Sternberg, 1999), because school classroom is conceived as a social and academic environment whereby not only teaching and learning but also diverse social interaction take place among the stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, agents).

What are the advantages for eTwinners’ involvement in such initiatives?

Your register to e-Networks will:

create new attractive perspectives for your school community,
increase your stakeholders’ participation levels,
accommodate for the human rights to personal growth and self-fulfillment,
motivate your students to fully exploit their creativity and express their potential,
promote a quality learning environment,
inspire social values, such as equal opportunity, welfare, inclusion, anti-discrimination, quality human life, social and gender equality.

So, why not anticipate and look for partnerships? Even if you are on summer vacations, I think it is worth considering your contribution to the Greek eTwinning theme Networks for the coming school year!

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Extension Date for e2inning Ambs

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on August 4, 2010

Hello, everyone!

If you have already come across the previous post, but you did not manage to apply for the vacancies in time, you should cheer up!??????
It is not too late! A new deadline for eTwinning ambassadors has been announced. That is August 9, 2010, at 2:00 p.m.
Why are you so lucky?
Once more technology has saved you time! Technical problems in the operation of the Greek School Network were reported by candidates from July 30, 2010 to August 2, 2010. Afterwards came the announcement of the extension……
So, for your convenience, you can click here to find the online application form. GOOD LUCK with your adult trainees!

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4-seasons eTwinning in Greece

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on July 28, 2010

You must be wondering what is so urgent for another blogpost……….Well, summertime appears to be a much promising and active season for eTwinners. So, if you have run across this news, I strongly recommend you keep reading it through.

The Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning & Religious Affairs is interested in recruiting 15 volunteer “ambassadors” for a two school year period of service. Teachers that live and work in the administrative regions of Attica, Central Macedonia, Western Greece, Central Greece, Eastern Macedonia & Thrace, Peloponnese, Western Macedonia, Thessalia, Crete, Hpeiros, Ionian Sea Islands, South Aegean and North Aegean Sea Islands can apply for those positions.

Are there any qualifications? Yes….
If you have taught for about three to five years in the primary or secondary education and you hold a certificate of English language proficiency at a B2 level, why don’t you start thinking about it?
In addition, if you have carried out successfully an eTwinning project partnership or another programme at a European or international level and you have integrated ICT in your teaching context, I suggest you consider yourself seriously for those vacancies. Moreover, if you have certified your ICT skills, you should not spend even a minute on having second thoughts.

What’s next?
Any matching candidates are asked to complete an online application form at the website of the Greek National Support Service (NSS) till 2nd of August 2010. To access this, you can click here.

But what about the duties of eTwinning ambassadors?
1. They monitor the progress of projects carried out by schools and individual teachers in the region under their supervision.
2. They organise and evaluate two workshops (at least) in the largest towns of their region.
3. They write a short report of actions taken every four months and submit it to the eTwinning NSS.
4. They report their participation in workshops, seminars and conferences about the eTwinning action to the NSS
5. They regularly use e-learning tools which have been adopted and supported by the NSS.
6. They take part and support other actions of the NSS on a local basis.

Are you feeling uneasy or even perplexed?
You should not worry at all because you can count on the NSS. The chosen ambassadors are going to participate in training programmes by the NSS at the beginning of the following two school years (2010-2011 and 2011-2012).

By the way, did you miss the opportunity to help beat the target of 5,000 wishes for eTwinning 5th anniversary? You can make up for it here. The renewed deadline is December 31st, 2010. Good luck!!!

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Greek NSS for eTwinning

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on June 13, 2010

Launched in 2005 as the main action of the European Commission’s eLearning Programme, eTwinning has been firmly integrated in the Lifelong Learning Programme since 2007. Its Central Support Service is operated by European Schoolnet, an international partnership of 26 European Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe. eTwinning is further supported at national level by 30 National Support Services.
from An Overview of eTwinning-The Community for schools in Europe

The NSS role is to represent and promote the eTwinning Action locally. Their main activities include:

the training of eTwinning ambassadors, that is an eTwinning representative body of teachers across the country
the organisation of information events
the participation in decision-making for the prospects of eTwinning Action along with the rest NSSs, the Central Support Service (CSS) and the European Commission representative
the organisation of professional development workshops for teachers who have already taken up an eTwinning project, but also for those who wish to do so. Such seminars aim to enhance European schools collaboration with the support of ICT.
the monitoring and evaluation of national partnerships eTwinning projects
the national award-giving ceremony for the best eTwinning projects annually

The Greek NSS can be reached by the web address, the email at eTwinning@sch.gr, by telephone number 801 11 38946 and mailform. To stay tuned with interesting news, you have the option of subscribing to the NSS NewsLetter, to the RSS or even you could access their archive for some background information.

The Greek NSS has lately initiated a course of 3-week online seminars (on the moodle platform) to meet the eTwinning teachers’ needs. After a press release announcement, interested candidates are asked to complete an online application form to attend the seminar. The selection process is in priority order while the accepted number of trainees can range from 25 to 50. This means that you need to be on the alert. After successful completion of the seminar, certificates of attendance are provided.
So far the Greek NSS has held a seminar on the project methodogy of eTwinning and its effective implementation in the school curriculum (26/04/2010 – 16/05/2010) while a new one starts from tomorrow till 4 July 2010. Its learning objectives are getting teachers familiar with some Web 2.0 tools (Gmail, FlashMeeting, Blogger) as alternative ways to Twinspace and Twinblog working environments.The next seminar is going to be about Multimedia tools (Gimp and Movie Maker) for eTwinning (21/06/2010 to 11/07/2010). The opening date for applications’ submission is June, 14th 12pm and the deadline is June, 16th.
Even if you have missed those, you should feel lucky because more online seminars are going to be held. So, be generous and spread the news…..

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European Language Day

Posted by ΜΑΡΙΑ on June 1, 2010

Hello and have a nice month!

EDL logo

School year 2009-2010 is about to finish, so I thought of writing about another special European Day. It is celebrated on 26th September which makes it a perfect time for the beginning of each school year. Actually, my students in 2nd and 3rd Grades of Junior High School had the opportunity to read some EDL published material by the Council of Europe last September. My experience says that it’s worth spending a lesson on this topic since teenagers can get motivated for a fresh start at language learning. Furthermore, the significance of plurilingualism and pluriculturalism is acknowledged by having students understand their future needs in a European context.

If you are interested in finding more information about European Language Day, you can go to this link. In particular, at the EDL website there are articles, local contact points for promotional material, an archive of reports on previous yeras’ events, language quiz and much more.

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