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Etopia (Click to see full size image)The first Etopia workshop in Friesland- September 2006
Multimodal literacy

Dughall McCormick, Holmfirth JIN School, UK

Multimodal literacy is new on the Friesian agenda. As a result, MirandaNet scholars from England and Germany went out to work with teachers of 4-9 year olds in Friesland which is a remote and very beautiful part of the Netherlands. Many thanks to Promethean, 2 Simple and Oracle for making this possible.

The role ICT can play in improving collaborative learning and speaking and listening skills

This presentation focused on the power of ICT to bring pupils together into collaborative learning activities and projects that will ultimately enhance speaking and listening skills as well as a wide range of other learning. There were video clips of children involved in such activities which included Nursery children working together on a Promethean IWB, an 'ACTIVote' session from a Reception class, Peer tutoring between a 10 year old boy and a 6 year old girl, and two 9 year olds collaborating on a project using 2Simple's '2Create a Story' software. Examples of stories made with the 2Simple software were also shown to the audience as well as a brief overview of the package to demonstrate the simplicity and potential of the software. The presentation also included some examples of pages designed on the Promethean ACTIVboard with collaboration and interactivity in mind.

On the second day we visited schools. We were struck not only by differences from our own systems, but also the similarities.

The overwhelming impression of the Dutch schools was one of calm and purposeful learning environments which were evidently beginning to embrace technology such as interactive whiteboards. In the school in Franeker, what was particularly striking was the child-centred approach in the early years and the excellent organisation of space and resources that ensures children have a healthy balance of creative, imaginative, physical and problem-solving activities. The children were mainly bi-lingual in Friesian and Dutch and many also had an impressive command of English (as did the teachers).

We also enjoyed a canal and lake journey which impressed upon us how much water is part of the Friesian soul.

People enjoying sailing on the waterways
People enjoying sailing on the waterways

Some of the 
      windmills such as this one would be used as pumps
Some of the windmills such as this one would be used as pumps

This would 
      be quite a holiday home!
This would be quite a holiday home!

The town of Leeuwarden and the surrounding areas were very picturesque.

We all had a different perspective on the way of life in this rural area. This is what we learnt.

Having grown up and gone to school in deepest East Anglia, the trip to Friesland was very evocative of my own childhood experience of landscape. The vast sky, the waterways, a slower, more relaxed pace of life all left a deep impression on me. Particular highlights were explaining to a class of baffled 10 year olds that (because I live on such a steep hill) I have to go upstairs in my house to get into the garden - a fairly odd concept the average inhabitant of Friesland, I imagine. Another unforgettable experience was the stay at the Hotel Wyswert in Leeuwarden. The Hotel is part of a University that runs a course in Hotel/Hospitality/Catering Management and is effectively run by students enrolled on the course. The students mentor each other, rotate around all the imaginable jobs to be done in a hotel and provide the highest possible level of service and attention to the customers.

The Frieslanders were welcoming, friendly, hospitable and cheerful all of which made for an unforgettable experience.

(Tourist information) (Wikipedia information)

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