Civics is interdisciplinary teaching in many European countries. During the pandemic, some European Math teachers realised that it was important for their students to work remotely in groups with peers at a time when they often could not attend face-to-face classes because they were confined at home or, if this was possible, they had to maintain measures of social distancing in their classroom.
For this reason, the teachers decided to organise an activity aimed in particular to strengthen students’ digital citizenship education skills, introducing the topic, making them reflect on the risks of surfing the net and, at the same time, helping them to work in international mixed groups, getting to know their classmates better and expanding the knowledge of European peers thanks to the web.
The involved students were 9th or 10th graders from Liceo Classico e Linguistico “G.Mazzini” – Genova – Italy, Agrupamento de Escolas da Senhora da Hora – Matosinhos – Portugal, Lycée Saint-Exupery – La Rochelle – France, Zheleznik High School – Stara Zagora – Bulgaria, Cagribey Anadolu Lisesi – Uskudar Istanbul – Turkey.
Starting from the need to dedicate curricular hours to citizenship education, the partners started planning a project based on Maths and ICT organising students in international teams and helping them to interact effectively. For this purpose, some collaborative activities both synchronous and asynchronous to be carried out remotely were designed: in this way the members of the teams were scaffolded to get to know each other, to interact and to make decisions together. One example of this is the project’s logo to the composition of which every single member of the more than one hundred students involved has given their contribution: everybody contributed to deciding the background and posted pictures related to the topic or with their town, hobbies, etc used to create the final image.
To do that the teachers had to work hard and collaborate a lot, but the final result was really satisfying, because all the students, even the most reluctant to work, gave their contribution, realising that collaboration requires the common effort of each member of the group to obtain results. One example was the team building activity planned at the beginning of the project: each member of the project had to share non-sensible information with his/her mates to play a sort of Bingo, answering some questions about teams’ mates.
The students met in a first introductory video conference on Google Meet, then exchanged non-sensitive information to understand who the team members were with a specific ice-breaking activity and finally started working on the theme of the project trying to answer the driving question “What are the biggest risks a teenager runs while surfing the web?”.
The topics were selected between the most written words in the word cloud the students created in the online Mentimeter session and then each international team had to go in-depth a single topic: cyberbullying, privacy, copyright, fake news, phishing. Students worked on a forum and then the teachers selected the questions among the most relevant or the most appreciated by students, creating a questionnaire with Google Forms which was then distributed to as many teenagers as possible: the answers obtained were almost 500 not only from Europe! The international groups analysed these data using their Math and ICT knowledge and each of them, working together using a Google.Doc file, prepared a chapter of the ebook that was also distributed on many social channels to disseminate the project and to let those who responded know what the general trends had been.
Having created the ebook, it was necessary to organise a final event and teachers decided to organise an interactive session, open not only to students but also their families, as many of them had to connect from home. International teams were asked to indicate true and false news using a Tricider survey per group and the most voted real and fake news of each of them was used by teachers to create a Kahoot session in the final videoconference. It was a real success because many people challenged each other trying to understand which of the questions proposed were real or fake news. In this way, the students and their families were made aware of the problem of fake news and media disinformation.
The project is strongly linked to the curriculum of the classes involved and to the requirements of governments concerning digital citizenship education: it was possible to consolidate disciplinary and analytical knowledge and skills on the part on statistics with reading graphs, while the processing of data with a spreadsheet, the writing of documents, the use of shared resources as well as the themes of the project on risks of the web have made it possible to consolidate ICT knowledge. In addition, the students could interact in English with European partners, and this certainly improved their knowledge of this language. The key competencies developed by the students were many:
- functional alphabetic competence, interacting in their mother tongue and English;
- multilingual proficiency, actively using English;
- mathematical and technological competence, analysing the results of the survey, creating statistical graphs and learning tools and strategies to avoid the risks they can run while surfing the net;
- digital competence by collaborating remotely, thanks to the wide and diversified use of ICT tools;
- personal, social competence and the ability to learn through teamwork and collaboration within international teams;
- social and civic competence through interaction with partners and discussion with them on issues of digital citizenship;
- entrepreneurial competence having to organise to work together in teams;
- competence in cultural awareness and expression by working with foreign mates, with different habits, allowed them to overcome commonplaces.
Technology was fundamental, but this year, with a lot of work done in distance learning, its importance was even greater: many students worked on the project and connected to the videoconferences from home. The synchronous events had the added complexity of sometimes having to host more than 100 people and being held in 4 different time zones, as the project involved schools from Portugal, France, Italy, Bulgaria and Turkey.
The students also played a very active part in the use of the software tools proposed by the teachers, who created tutorials for the whole working group and with specific hints to the students as often it was not possible to help students in the classroom as they were confined at home. The software tools used were mainly GSuite to share files and prepare the ebook chapter, Mentimeter for the introductory activities and the choice of the logo, TurboMosaic to compose the image of the logo itself, Tricider to choose the fake and real news that each international group had to propose, Kahoot! for the final online game, Genially for the presentation of classes and schools, Calameo for the eBook, Canva for the cover of the ebook itself, ScreenCastOMatic for the tutorials and Rubistar for ideas about the assessment section.
Participation in the project was very important for the students, both for the knowledge and skills acquired in Mathematics, ICT and English and for the social aspects and transversal skills developed. The classes benefited from the opportunity to work in groups, even if at distance, and to open the walls of their classroom or their home to Europe if they were confined.
The disciplinary objectives were achieved through careful planning and constant support to the students, both in the classroom and during the online lessons. The cross-curricular goals were achieved through excellent collaboration with partner teachers and mutual support within international teams. After an initial phase where the classes found it difficult to collaborate, things started to work quite well and the students got excited about the project and the final survey confirmed it: many of the disciplinary and citizenship skills were European and digital, which were cross-curricular aims, have tangibly improved. The families were very happy with their children’s participation in the educational path and some parents participated in eTwinning events such as the one on Infodemic as well as in the synchronous events and in particular in the final one to which they were invited.
As the project needed a strict partners’ collaboration, the project was carried using the eTwinning environment and you can find all the information about the activities and the results obtained in the TwinSpace.
About the author: Enrica Maragliano is a Maths and Physics teacher and a passionate eTwinning and Scientix ambassador. She likes trying new teaching approaches for her students so that they are challenged and they can learn many soft skills, not only about her subjects’ but also about cross-curricular topics.