In Germany Schools Are Not Really Closed - With eTwinning They Have Just Changed Location

13 April, 2020
School events

A teacher’s role is to educate the students that are placed in their care. But what happens when this process is not feasible anymore?

During these unprecedented times, of closed schools and social distancing, teachers have many roles. Today teachers can set the tone of the entire household. They are capable of building a warm environment, they mentor and nurture students, become role models and listen and look for signs of trouble.

This is exactly what two ambassadors from Germany do. Steffen Töppler and Rebecca Radant shared with us how they structured theirs and their students’ lives by using eTwinning.

Rebecca Radant, an eTwinning ambassador, with 9 years of experience, lives in the Hanseatic City of Rostoc, the third largest city on the German Baltic coast. The Sanitz Grammar School is a modern school in the rural area near Rostock with currently 453 pupils aged 13 - 19 and 46 teachers/ teacher trainees. We promote eTwinning at our school and we have received the eTwinning school label 2020 - 2021.

These are challenging times for all of us, especially when you have little kids at home. My husband can't work from home so during the day I'm alone at home with our 3 kids. Usually I do things for school before they get up in the morning or in the evening. During the day we try to establish a routine: homework, walk outside, play games but also watch films which gives me time to meet my students online or attend online training courses.

eTwinning is whole new way of teaching and learning and this has improved my classroom a lot. It is a learner centred approach. It supports the development of 21st century skills like creativity, critical thinking, and ICT skills.
eTwinning now makes it easy to give students meaningful tasks and it helps me as a teacher to support them because I can give them instant feedback. For example, right now my students are working on a podcast in international groups. On eTwinning I can give my students creative tasks such as recording videos, designing digital posters, creating interactive presentations, writing a blog or recording podcasts etc.

They divide their time freely and don't have to stick to a schedule. They get in touch with their group members on eTwinning and write their script together in collaborative documents. I think they really enjoy working independently, collaborating and staying in touch with each other since we are not allowed to meet physically.

A good way to start an online lesson is to do a little survey or brainstorming with Mentimeter or Answergarden. In online classes you can play a Kahoot game together to revise grammar or to check the understanding of a text. Other useful tools I use for online conferencing and collaborative writing are Zoom and Etherpad.

Finally, if your students aren't familiar with the platform you can make short videos for them and record your screen to show them how to use it. I'm trying my best to motivate my students by keeping in touch. If they don't work I offer help and I listen to them.

It is helpful to exchange ideas with teachers from other European countries and see how they are handling the situation.
For those who haven't used eTwinning before now is the time.

Steffen Töppler an eTwinning ambassador, with 18 years of teaching experience lives in Kassel, a city known for the Documenta exhibitions of contemporary art. Freie Schule Kassel is a small school in an urban environment with a strong dedication towards pupil and parental participation and a focus on sustainable development.

Every morning, since the schools closed I use a page on my “Corona TwinSpace” for my class of 4th graders with individual and interactive tasks set for various topics such as maths, physical activity, music or language etc. I accompany these tasks with screencasts, personal videos and phone calls at home.

Our 3rd and 4th graders moved their regularly planned presentations of animals or positive figures of history to video conferences via Adobe Connect which worked out perfectly.

Additionally, I am running my French class through Microsoft Teams three times a week with online meetings - homework, feedback and online MS Forms vocabulary tests.

Lastly, we immediately started “publishing” a cute and colourful weekly magazine for staff, children and their parents that focuses on school life. This magazine is hosted on our TwinSpace.

We have viewed the present crisis as a challenge and an opportunity for innovation, we have developed not only tools for the classroom but also for the whole school. We have implemented a whole new range of digital tools like TwinSpace for everyday learning.

I send parents updates on what I am planning to do with the children. In case of new tools, I send parents the credentials and ask them to help their kids discover them. The intention is to get the children to work without the need to have their parents present all the time.