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What if there is a lockdown - With eTwinning we can travel to Spain

Travelling can be one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of someone’s life. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdown, we are not allowed to travel along with many other things.

George Orwell once said that he “would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends in Spain!”. Here, we take a look at two Spanish eTwinning Ambassadors who share their experiences and knowledge on how to deal with this crisis that has closed their schools, unlike their passion and determination to continue teaching their students with the help of eTwinning.

Julia Gracia Ordóñez from Cordoba who has been a teacher for 18 years.

eTwinning is a fundamental part of my professional development, as I adapt to the challenges I am now facing as an English Language teacher during these difficult times.

eTwinning helps me achieve my teaching goals with my pupils as they develop their language and digital competences. eTwinning projects keep my pupils motivated now that we have moved to online teaching and learning. At the moment, eTwinning is my main tool to keep in contact with my colleagues at a local, national, and European level. As an eTwinning Ambassador, I am grateful for the continuous support and information provided by the Spanish National Support Service (NSS) as we work towards incorporating the eTwinning platform into our pedagogical practices.

Keeping our students motivated is our biggest challenge. Many students are facing numerous difficulties: they come from large families who share small flats, they have parents who have lost their jobs, and now more than ever, they are suffering the consequences of this isolation. Therefore, the most important thing to support and motivate them and to encourage them to think positively. We need to remind them that this is a temporary situation and that we will overcome this together.

An important factor to keep my students motivated has been to focus more on eTwinning and to move away from other social media platforms. This has been essential in helping my pupils maintain good habits in their new learning environment. Every morning, I send my pupils information about their day’s work and encourage them to complete it using the platform. We concentrate on these four skills when teaching English as a Foreign Language: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

As part of our lessons, we have included a new page in our TwinSpace called “COVID19”, where pupils interact with their European peers and speak about the current situation. We have also designated Wednesday as our specific eTwinning project day, during which we network with our peers at a European level.

This page includes 3 subpages:

  • Oral archives with pupils testimonies on how their daily routine has changed since lockdown;
  • A lesson plan in Spanish - a project based learning theme for teaching English as a Foreign Language.

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To help pupils, I try to include activities such as studying song lyrics, working with 3D objects, playing Kahoot as an assessment tool or watching high impact videos. This enables pupils to stay connected with their peers both inside and outside the classroom. They stay motivated in both their individual studies and their peer-to-peer project work.

Karmele López de Abetxuko from Basauri, the Basque country who has been a teacher for 20 years.

During this crisis, it has been proven that my students and I are better prepared than the pupils and teachers who didn´t have experience in innovative projects like eTwinning.

I spend the whole morning teaching online. I contact my students in “real time”, I listen to their concerns and I answer any questions they may have. I try to encourage them and reassure them if they have any concerns or feel worried. Although this teaching system is totally new for me and my students, I feel happy with their attitude towards it.

I have incorporated a page within my projects which are focusing on the current situation.

I tell them my own experience, I share aspects of my private life and I try to relate with them with jokes, anecdotes and by sharing positive aspects of this confinement: “You can sleep more, you don’t waste time commuting from home to school, you can spend more time with your family, you may have more time to read or to watch your favourite films or television series, you can learn a new skill using online tutorials, for example, cooking, baking, knitting, aerobics, yoga, different foreign languages” and so on.

Thanks to Flippity and Classtools we created flashcards, quizzes, scavenger hunts or Escape Rooms, timelines, word searches, crosswords, scramble puzzles, hangman play, mad-libs…and so on.

Most importantly, with our current eTwinning projects, we can continue to communicate with the rest of Europe, something which under the current circumstances is priceless. eTwinning gives me the chance to continue communicating not only with teachers of many countries of Europe from my current eTwinning projects (from Portugal, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Denmark), but also with teachers of previous ones (Northern and Southern Italy, Belgium and Greece). The relationship between eTwinners is professional but also personal. The same happens among students. Some of them are friends, not only classroom peers.