Lisa Blackwood, a teacher at Rowan Gate Primary School, discusses her experience and what she gained from attending the eTwinning Professional Development Workshop in Guimarães, Portugal.
Our children live in a media-rich society as technology is part of their everyday lives. Mobile technology is a constant part of European children’s lives, is not a novelty it is a tool to help them learn, play and connect with the global community. Therefore, digital technologies should be used to enhance their learning experiences and improve communication with children and their families.
Goals for the conference
From 6-9 November 2014 I attended the eTwinning Professional Development Workshop (PDW) in Guimarães Portugal called, ‘Closing the gap between family and school: The role of digital technologies.’ I have never attended a PDW before; I am fairly new to eTwinning although I have used it alongside more experienced colleagues during a Comenius project called Smart through Art.
My main aims of attending the PDW were to:
- develop my own ICT skills
- gain ideas of how to engage students, families and colleagues in eTwinning projects
- develop strategies and ideas of how to combat issues such as cyber bullying and using social media safely and responsibly
- develop my knowledge of eTwinning
- make contacts with European colleagues for future eTwinning and Erasmus+ projects.
‘I gained a great deal of skills and knowledge’
I feel I gained a great deal of skills and knowledge during the PDW that I can use in my teaching and share with my colleagues in the UK. I can now use QR codes to enhance learning activities and communicate with parents in an engaging and innovative way. I have developed my skills and understanding of Flipped classrooms, a concept I was not familiar with before the PDW. Although the Flipped Classroom would not be applicable in my current setting, which is Primary Special Needs Education, I did feel it is a concept I could use in the future and elements of the concept could be applied in our school to enable more autonomous learning experiences. Additionally, I now have experience and understanding of Kahoot and other game based classroom response systems that can be used to assess, engage and motivate children.
‘I am part of a community: the eTwinning community’
I was fortunate to attend some excellent presentations made by other professionals from the eTwinning community. They helped me develop a greater understanding of how the internet works, how to manage, identify and prevent cyberbullying, how to use social media to connect with parents and how to use technology to bring the community into my classroom, enhancing the learning experiences for my students.
A key learning point from the PDW for me was that I am part of a community: the eTwinning community. At my fingertips is a group of dedicated, enthusiastic, experienced and knowledgeable professionals who share a joint passion and commitment to improving the outcomes of their students. During the PDW I met many people who I hope to collaborate and plan future projects with. As a special needs teacher I have a lot to bring to this community to support others in inclusion in mainstream schools, which is a challenge for many teachers across Europe.
‘The PDW consolidated and supported my passion and enthusiasm’
What I gained from the PDW that I did not expect was a greater understanding of the challenges and realities of teachers in other European countries. I have also developed a greater appreciation for the support, funding and resources that are available to teachers in the UK. I am a very energetic and enthusiastic teacher as I love my job and feel it is a privilege to teach children. The PDW consolidated and supported my passion and enthusiasm. Teaching can be a challenging career and the time I spent with like-minded, passionate and enthusiastic colleagues was a boost to my energy and enthusiasm. I plan to use my learning to support, motivate and educate my UK colleagues and use eTwinning to become a valued part of the eTwinning community.