eTwinning – what it is and why UK educators should get in quick

London Connected Learning Centre’s Peter Lillington reports back from last week’s UK eTwinning Conference.

Photo by Sebastiano Piazzi on Unsplash

If you’re a UK educator of 3-19 year olds and you haven’t yet heard of eTwinning – get up to speed and get in quick (and certainly before 31 October). eTwinning is a free online community for schools in Europe and some neighbouring countries, which allows you to find partners and collaborate on projects within a secure network and potentially access Erasmus+ funding.

This fantastic initiative is supported in the UK by the British Council and of the 670,000 registrations on the platform, more than 27,000 are teachers from the UK. Take a look here to get a flavour of some of the projects that show the power of online international collaboration between schools: from coding, robotics, Lego and laughter to challenging perceptions on migration, language learning, history and inclusion.

Democratic participation

Last week saw the UK eTwinning Conference take place in Nottingham and we were honoured to be there giving the keynote presentation. This year’s conference theme was democratic participation and how eTwinning supports active participation of pupils within schools as digital citizens, which ties in very nicely with our focus on news literacy and critical thinking. Christian Turton, London CLC’s co-director, and I were delighted with the engaged response to our keynote on Developing Critical Learners and Democratic Participants in the Digital Age.  

We covered a wide range of resources, tools and reports, from online safety to digital literacy, plus an international slant, and you can find links to all at https://theclc.co.uk/etwinning/

Award winners

 Elsewhere at the conference it was inspiring to see so many examples of great projects being undertaken through eTwinning with award winners being celebrated and the clear benefits and impacts to participating pupils and teachers evident.

The conference was a good balance of full sessions in the main room, workshops on a range of themes, time to meet colleagues,  network and exchange ideas, and all culminating in a Teachmeet with seven-minute presentations at the end of the conference. Three sessions in particular stood out for me.

Discerning questions and Radical Reads

Peter Worley of the Philosophy Foundation provided some thought-provoking insights into classroom questioning techniques which went beyond the open and closed question categorisation and should prove helpful for encouraging pupils to be ‘discerning’ as well as leading them into some understanding of philosophy. I hope to share more detail on this in future.

The British Council has produced a new resource called The Radical Read. Inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, The Radical Read explores the involvement of young people in peaceful protest to promote change, from youth resistance to the Nazis to the school strike for climate change. Designed to provoke questions and develop critical thinking, each resource includes activities to do with or without a partner school. I’ll certainly be highlighting these at the next London CLC humanities conference in April (book here!).

Finally, there was also an inspirational session from Elaine Manton, a teacher who explained the procedure for applying for a Churchill travel fellowship. This scheme provides 150 awards every year across a variety of categories including education. Elaine’s field of study concerned learning international lessons around encouraging girls to take up STE(A)M/STEMM (the last M stands for medicine). She’s writing up her report at the moment and I look forward to reading more about what she learned.

Culture in a Box

In the meantime, do consider registering for eTwinning before Halloween for your chance to search for school partners in more than 40 countries – and if you start an eTwinning project before 27 October the British Council will post a free ‘Culture in a Box’ resources to your school.

Colleagues from the London region had fun collaborating in a democratic way to produce a box in a very short time as part of a conference activity (Paddington, market stalls, River Thames and fish and chips made it to the final list of five tangible and five intangible items to be depicted):

·      Download all the presentations mentioned in this blog post on the conference download page

·      Sign up to our weekly newsletter to get edtech news and views, free resources and reviews direct to your inbox every Thursday lunchtime – including a weekly ‘give it a try’ app or tool recommendation.

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

14/06/22,
09:15
- 15:30
EYFS, KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.

Presentations

The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

24/06/22,
09:30
- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
25/11/21,
09:30
- 14:25
KS2

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum
21/02/22,
-
KS1

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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