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Learning about History and historical knowledge with Projects based on Learning

Why is the Middle Ages so important for us? This project, developed during the first term of the course, has provided to my students a deep reflection about the significance of the Middle Ages and about the essence of historical knowledge. The teacher wanted to design a challenging problem or question based on History, which encouraged to students into a reflection process. In this process, critique and revision, students voices and choices and the creation of a public product should be especially appreciated. So the project resulted very ambitious for them because they had to investigate about what we know about the past and how we can interpret it.

Banks in the Middle Ages

The first phase of the project was focused on a historical investigation. The class was divided in different groups who had to explore different topics related with our medieval heritage and how it affect to the understanding of the present world. The students dove in several inventions or important issues which were born or reborn en the Middle Ages and they linked them to the present. The final products of these investigation tasks were concept maps made with Popplet. I would like to share with you some of the concept maps created by them:

After this stage of the project, the pupils began to prepare their presentations to the rest of the class. From this moment, the project moved on the historiographical interpretation of the past. They were grouped according to the similitudes of their topics in four big teams: Economy, Politics, Science and Technology and Culture. The goal of this phase was to collaborate to convince to their partners that economic, political, scientific or cultural events are more important than the rest to explain historical changes. So it supposed an approximation to different ways or  styles to build historiographical knowledge. Where modern historiographical tendencies focus on, was the target of this part of the project. The students prepared their oral expositions with a SWOT analysis template, in which each field had the following meaning:

  • Strenghts: main content points of their topic, ideas that were necessary to mark during the presentation.
  • Opportunities: common strategies shared by different groups to convince to the rest of the class about the relevance of their ideas.
  • Weaknesses: possible questions that could affect to the coherence of their ideas.
  • Threats: bad practices that were necessary to avoid, such as lack of preparation of coordination.

During the presentation of each concept map, the students had to inquire and to evaluate to their partners with a rubric. The teacher evaluated the use of grammar, specific vocabulary and  also pronunciation while the students valued the presentation of the contents and the quality of the answers that the students gave to different questions. After the presentations, an amazing discussion started about what kind of historical events are the most important. All the students understood that it’s very difficult to raise one kind of events over the rest to explain the complexity of History. In my view, the project provided to students a lot of meaningful learning, because they were concerned by the main aims of History as a humanistic science: the description and the interpretation of the past to understand the present.

Studying and living Globalisation

The five most pressing problems on our planet has been the first project developed for my students this year in Citizenship, a new subject studied with CLIL methodology. It resulted a challenging experience for my young pupils, who are currently starting their acquisition process of learning a Foreign Language. They conformed mixed work groups with partners of different Secondary Schools from Canada, United States and Venezuela. English was the vehicular language to communicate and to do the different tasks of the project.

Alter globalization

Alter-globalization. Imagen en Wikimedia Commons, Licencia CC BY

The initial purpose of the project consisted in that all the members of the groups agreed in the five most pressing problems that affect our world. Consulting different links and resources provided by the teachers, the students should discuss, choice and decide which are, in their opinion, the most worrying problems that are actually concerning us. This was, no doubt, the hardest part of the project. All the work during the project was released in shared folders on Google Drive, so collaborative tasks were really stimulated across this experience. Some students edited documents with their suggestions while other groups chatted with Google Hangout about their priorities. I regret that most of my students couldn’t be more involved in chats. They were a little scared because they didn’t feel able to keep the conversation flowing with natives. Different members of each group suggested topics to choose the five most pressing problems on our planet. After the agreement, the final product edition process began.

The selected topics were really varied, according to different causes. Firstly, a part of the involved work teams, elected issues directly linked to their daily lives, such as bullying, drug trafficking or drug consumption and healthy problems as smoking habits. Secondly, other problems were studied according to the recient media contents. For example, ebola outbreak and economic crisis in Spain. Finally, other topics were analysed according to a more global political and economical awareness, as terrorism, overpopulation, wars, starvation or women status. These different views were considerably positive and showed particularly what is the perception that teenagers of different countries, have about the actual world. Each gruop had to define the problem, explain how has been approached by the moment, why they chose it and how it could be solved.

The final products of this project were presented in different ways. My students are used to work with collaborative tools such as Google presentations and they defended this option. But reasonably, different members of the groups, suggested recording and editing videos with their research conclusions. After the editing process, the results were communicated with oral expositions to the rest of the class. I would like to share with you different products created by them.

To take part in The 5 most pressing problems on our planet was an amazing experience for us. It allowed us to expand our classroom further its physical limits. Also, we could collaborate, discuss, check and share different global views regarding to the problems that affect to our world. And of course, it made possible an improvement in the acquisition process of a Foreign Language for my students. Furthermore, this experience showed me how Globalisation has different repercussions in our public educational system: the linguistic and technical gap which exist between Spain and other areas of the developed world. A wide gap that, despite the enormous effort of Spanish teachers and pupils, is growing due to the recession.

I want to thank specially to the teachers involved in the project, their patience and dedication. We learnt about Globalisation and we lived Globalisation effects. In my view, this project resulted a perfect learning task, full of significant content.

Recursos, materiales y experiencias AICLE

El pasado miércoles fui invitado junto al Coordinador de la Sección Bilingüe (Español-Inglés) de mi centro a desarrollar una ponencia sobre las experiencias metodológicas y recursos didácticos con los que trabajamos en el programa bilingüe de nuestro instituto, en un curso de formación del profesorado organizado por el CPR Región de Murcia.

La primera parte de la ponencia fue impartida por Antonio Marchal, profesor de Inglés y Coordinador de nuestra sección bilingüe, en la que expuso los criterios organizativos de este programa en el IES Dos Mares, la labor realizada por la Coordinación a la hora de supervisar el trabajo de los DNL, así como diferentes propuestas de actuación en el aula con el Auxiliar de Conversación. Antonio mostró de una manera muy interesante, bajo mi punto de vista, diversas posibilidades de trabajo colaborativo con el alumnado mediante Doctopus y Goobric, dos herramientas de Google Classroom que permiten crear portafolios digitales para nuestros estudiantes y una evaluación con rúbricas de las tareas que realizan. Además, mostró un proyecto de trabajo muy sugerente, llamado We look into the sky, desarrollado el curso pasado con los alumnos de Inglés, dedicado al estudio de las diferentes imágenes del universo que el cine de ciencia ficción ha aportado al ser humano en las últimas décadas.

En la segunda parte de la sesión, intervine para ejemplificar a los asistentes diversas herramientas, recursos y estrategias de trabajo con los que implementar la metodología AICLE en las Áreas No Lingüísticas (ANL). Os adjunto la presentación que utilicé durante mi ponencia.

Tras la exposición de los contenidos que llevábamos preparados y a pesar de la hora intempestiva que se nos hizo, se abrió un interesantísimo debate con los participantes del curso que, sin duda, fue lo más enriquecedor de la sesión de trabajo.

Profesores de diferentes ANL reflexionaron sobre el grado de complejidad que resulta para los alumnos, el hecho de trabajar la materia en un porcentaje altísimo del currículo (superior al 90%), en Lengua Extranjera.  La Orden que regula el funcionamiento de las Secciones Bilingües en Secundaria en la Región de Murcia estipula que como mínimo, deben impartirse el 50% de los contenidos de la materia no lingüística en Lengua Extranjera, pero recomendamos firmemente, de acuerdo con nuestra experiencia, que los docentes intentasen acercar en la medida de sus posibilidades, este porcentaje al 100%. Ello conlleva necesariamente un proceso de adaptación del alumnado al programa, que suele coincidir con el primer trimestre del curso en 1º de ESO. Una vez que los estudiantes han interiorizado los retos que les plantea la materia, suelen adaptarse mayoritariamente a esta metodología docente. Me gustaría subrayar que, una vez clarificado el vocabulario específico de la materia y los recursos gramaticales más repetidos y empleados en el aula, no resulta más complicado al alumnado del programa superar la materia que si esta fuese impartida en castellano, pues el objetivo fundamental de la evaluación del ANL es la asimilación del contenido propio de la asignatura y nunca en un sentido negativo, su grado de maduración en la L2.

Del mismo modo, los asistentes plantearon cuestiones acerca de la dificultad que conlleva realizar pruebas de evaluación de los contenidos impartidos, también en este caso, en Lengua Extranjera. Según lo estipulado en la Orden referida anteriormente, las pruebas de evaluación desarrolladas en Lengua Extranjera deben ser supervisadas por el Coordinador del programa y bajo ningún concepto han de conllevar una penalización en la calificación del alumnado por el uso que realizan de la L2. En esencia, este tipo de pruebas deben medir exclusivamente el grado de consolidación de los contenidos y valorar en sentido estrictamente positivo, como mejora de su calificación, el progreso realizado por el alumnado en el uso de la L2.

En conclusión, me gustaría destacar que, de acuerdo con los resultados de los heterogéneos grupos de la Sección Bilingüe de nuestro centro, el nivel de dificultad en el grado de asimilación de los contenidos en un ANL, una vez superado el periodo de adaptación al programa bilingüe, no depende tanto del hecho de tener que enfrentarse a un material didáctico o a pruebas objetivas en L2, sino fundamentalmente de la propia comprensión de conceptos de la materia, hecho vinculado al nivel de desarrollo de destrezas y estrategias de aprendizaje de cada uno de nuestros alumnos.


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