Project Summary

The idea for the project was born in Norway in March 2016 when Bernard
Robin gave a talk on Digital Storytelling as a tool for teaching and
learning. A website on ‘Loomio’ was set up as well as Facebook and
Twitter accounts and of course, our main website  ( https://theuniverseismadeoftinystoriesblog.wordpress.com/) , in order to reach as
many teachers over the globe as possible. Additionally, teachers
spread the word using other teacher platforms such as TES, EPal and
Edmodo and Twitter ( #tinystoriesetwinning) . By the time the project began in September, it already had school members from all over the world including Canada, India, the USA and Pakistan as well as almost all countries situated in Europe.

The first step of course was introductions. Teachers posted a photo
and a description of themselves on a Google doc. They used Zeemaps to
indicate where their school was and to say something about it. A logo
and title for the project was agreed upon using Loomio brainstorming
tool and a timetable was set up as well as a schedule for Skype
sessions. A promotional video was made and the school year 2016/2017
began with the teachers already communicating with each other and
ready to go.

The first assignment was for the students to write their first digital
story introducing themselves on Padlet. This was an effective and
quick activity to start with and students were able to read about most
of their peers despite their being so many. In the second assignment
students made avatars representing aliens who would visit all the
member countries. The best ones were chosen using Tricider which was a
good tool to encourage students to communicate with each other. For
the third assignment, students posted interesting information about
their countries on Google Slides. These ‘Tidbits’ were then
transformed into a game of Kahoot, which was not only played inside
the classroom, but was played with other countries using Skype. This
was not only a fun activity, but students learnt all sorts of
interesting things about their peers and neighbours.

The fourth assignment saw students imagining that the two Aliens
(selected previously) would visit their school and city for a week. An
itinerary was posted on Google Slides where students uploaded their
digital interpretation of how they entertained the aliens during their
stay. This was an excellent way to make students reflect on what their
hometown has to offer; they were inspired to use their imagination and
creativity in imagining it from an alien’s point of view. The final
assignment was a video story about people who had inspired them. The
Twinspace forum was used to encourage feedback and a rubric was posted
to aid assessment. This activity evoked a sea of creative and
professional looking videos and quite a lot of feedback. They learned
and were entertained not only in the reflection of an inspiring person
and the construction of videos, but were also deeply impressed and
interested in videos posted by peers in other countries.

During the whole duration of the project, teachers organised Skype
sessions with their classes. Most of the students were able to connect
individually using their telephones and computers but sometimes they
would work in groups or as a class. Skype sessions were extremely
satisfying. Even when it often happened that school Internet
connections were not good enough for effective Skype conversations,
students would use other social networks and in some cases, generated
good friendships which will undoubtedly continue despite the project
having ended.

To conclude the project a video and a ‘Timeline’ presentation were put
together in order to demonstrate everything that had been done.
Students and teachers were asked to complete a survey in order to find
out how they actually felt about eTwinning. There was nothing but
positive feedback from both students and teachers for ‘The Universe is
Made of Tiny Stories’. Most people felt they had learnt to use digital
tools more effectively and that they had learnt a lot about other
countries. Moreover, they believed they had grown through this project
and that it had been an unforgettable experience.

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