What activities work and Why?
Pupils were extremely receptive to the concept of electronic mail,
although none had sent any. It was imperative
to organise a few sources from which the children would receive immediate and positive
responses e.g. the school principal, the teachers parents/friends who had been
informed prior to the lesson.
Printing and displaying emails on a notice board encourages practice of the target language as well as promoting interest in the ICT activity. Reading and discussion in and about the foreign language was enhanced in this way.
What is not helping and Why?
An alternative was to look at the Irish schools involved in the Pilot project On Modern Languages. A teacher to teacher contact was made via an Inservice training day, however, no emails were received from the school with whom we agreed to correspond for quite some time. As a result the pupils received no response to their first European Language email for three weeks. Irish schools, participating in the Modern Language Pilot Project, are also under time constraints.
For the first two to three months of the school year, the printer was broken. The technician arrived but was not able to rectify the problem. He found faulty cabling and said it could take some weeks to fix. The solution taken was to borrow a printer in order to have some material printed for the dissemination night. It took some time to install on the network but is working successfully on a temporary measure. The school is investigating the cost involved in purchasing a laser printer. It is necessary to print out the emails for all the pupils in the class to read.
The facility to send and receive emails was lost for an entire school week 2nd 6th November. The solution was to download it again. The Internet connection was erratic. On several occasions, we failed to log on. The password had to be set up again.
Disrupted Timetable / Lack of time
The school chaplain arrived on two consecutive weeks to speak with the 6th class. Unfortunately it was their schedule time for Modern Foreign Language Teaching. The teachers tried juggling the timetable to make up for lost time however lessons were not completed properly as a result.
In the computer room on two occasions, the teacher was asked to supervise the class next door. As a result the SIP class didnt get full attention and not all objectives were achieved in the time allotted.
Replying to emails takes a long time as only one PC can be used to send messages and the pupils have not much experience in typing. Consequently, not all pupils managed to type in their reply within the same week. This slowed down the emailing process considerably.
A solution would be to ask the children to save their work on Microsoft Word and attach it to a group/class email so that they can all type at the same time using the other PCs in the computer room.
Some of the emails were deleted which is unfortunate, as a record of every email should have been kept for evaluation.
Observations (benefits, integration.)
The children were enthralled with the humorous replies and the initial feel good factor when congratulated on their first email. They responded with curiosity to the mails received from another school.
Attaching pictures and other files to emails can develop the content and interest in sending and receiving emails.
The potential for cultural exchange and indeed for all subject areas is enormous.