Synergy: Connecting Teachers
On Monday 20/06/2011 the English Teachers’ Union of Serres (TEUM) and the State school advisor Mr Skenderis jointly organised an educational meeting under the title “Synergy: connecting teachers”. The aim was to enable English language teachers working in primary and secondary education in the region of Serres to share good classroom practices, disseminate their work, exchange thoughts and reflect on their experiences and teaching methods. The meeting was held at the premises of the 2nd EPAL of Serres.
The event started with the presentation of the Union’s Blog, a meeting point for our members, a useful tool for self development. The phrase “Connect, Communicate, Collaborate” best describes its goals and content. Ms Theodora Gkeniou, who made the presentation, put emphasis on the fact that this space can provide English language teachers with opportunities to build their own Personal Learning Networks and learn autonomously. The blog contains samples of work produced by our members, stimulating ideas on new projects, links to other educational sites and journals as well as announcements of forthcoming events relevant to ELT. It can be accessed at the following address: http://englishteachersinserres.blogspot.com/
The second presentation was given by Ms Mina Poulidou, from Proti High school. Her project “Bringing Poetry into the Classroom: embellishing the routine” originated by her love for literature and nature and targeted at motivating her students by creating a relaxed atmosphere and giving them the space and time to express themselves in a new context. Using a selection of poems, pictures and a music background (Four Seasons by Vivaldi) she encouraged them to explore their emotions, connect them to their memories and express their thoughts by producing their own poems. The overall experience was unique, as the pupils claimed.
Ms Eleni Zampaki (Alistrati High school) facilitated the session “Music..Makes me Feel”. The aim of the activity was to trace down the feelings that immerse through listening to music, to prove the power music has. 10 tracks of different kinds of music were chosen and the teachers who played the role of students were asked to write down words that describe their feelings, the images that come into their mind when they listen to that particular music. Then the sheets of papers were scattered among teachers and the pieces of music were played in random order. What the participants had to do was to recognise which words were related to the particular song played. The activity described above was originally implemented into students of 3rd Grade of High School and it proved really effective.
Ms Souzanna Drampa (25th primary school of Serres) explored the use of CLIL by implementing the project “Travelling through our Solar System” with her 6th grade pupils, combining English and geography. Her intention was to maximize the children’s overall exposure to language and increase their motivation. After taking into consideration the relevant conditions and limitations, she set the objectives and carried on with the implementation. She concluded with a brief evaluation, stressing the benefits and reflecting on the difficulties encountered. She also provided supplementary material to illustrate her work.
Finally Ms Theodora Gkeniou (Lykeio of Pentapolis) gave an alternative suggestion for teaching English in Lykeio. Her school along with schools from five more countries created an international youth e-magazine as part of an e-twinning project over a 9-month period. The development of social, digital and critical thinking skills which are necessary prerequisites in the learning and work environment of the 21st century, the growing role of technology and the emergence of new genres of communication (blogs, wikis, forums etc) as well as the dominance of English as the language of the Internet has led the partners to decide to take up the specific project. To find out more about it visit http://mymagazeen.blogspot.com/
The meeting concluded with Mr Skenderis, who informed the audience about the European Language Portfolio, its functions and raison d'être. After the presentation and a brief discussion we decided that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and that it is a useful pedagogic tool that fosters the development of all learning strategies. In his closing comments he stressed the importance of organizing such educational meetings which help teachers develop and get inspiration and urged us never to forget that “Happy teachers make happy students and happy students can learn!”