4 Countries 4 Maths: four different kinds of Maths in an eTwinning project

The project was born during an eTwinning PDW in Sintra, on Mobile Technologies. The 4 partners decided on the content and initiated the project on the spot and it was immediately approved due to the presence of the French and Italian NSS.
The pupils involved are 14-16. The participants are 4 schools in France, Italy, Spain and Romania. The aims of the project in terms of educational activity are to give the pupils the opportunity to improve their knowledge in Mathematics through English as a foreign language, realize how one original Mathematical question can be answered in different cultural contexts and become aware of and discussing both similarities and differences by solving Maths tasks and thus encourage mutual respect and tolerance. Our work is visible at http://new-twinspace.etwinning.net/web/p19396/welcome

The activities in the present project can be grouped into two types. On the one hand, some common activities have been proposed: individual presentations, the Logo Competition, shared materials. On the other hand, the bulk of the activities consisted of collaborative activities, designed by one of the school partners and solved by all the groups.

The French team proposed the activity “Volume of our classrooms”, in which the students had to model a real situation into three dimensional geometry, take measurements, sketch a diagram, calculate the volume of different cuboids, convert units, express magnitudes, units and arithmetic operations in English and comment on the final results with regard to the real situation.

The Romanian team suggested building up a “Mathematical Multilinguistic Dictionary” -an overview of a full range of mathematical terms from different fields of Mathematics (arithmetic, calculus, algebra and geometry). The terms  and their definitions, were originally given in English and partners gave the corresponding terms in their native language. For the students, it was nice to observe the similarities in our four Latin languages At the end of the task, the students checked their knowledge of English mathematical terms playing some puzzles and games that the Romanian team had prepared.

The Italian team designed the activity called “Statistics applied to tree leaves”. The students had to collect data on a real support, (a collection of leaves from different tree species), make repeated measurements (length and width) connected to a given question, use an excel sheet for representing data and obtaining the statistics behind them, model sets of points by linear fits using Geogebra and extract conclusions about the final result with regard to the proposed question of proportionality.

The Spanish team proposed the activity named “Green areas in our cities”. The students had to measure the distance between inaccessible points using the rule tool provided by Google Earth, triangulate irregularly shaped areas of their cities, use Heron’s formula to compute the area of the triangles just knowing the length of the three sides and compute the ratio between the green surface and the population census of their cities.

The Math content we used is well embedded in the curriculum: measuring, volumes, areas, statistics, ratios etc. Moreover, since my students were in the last year of the Lower Secondary school and facing a National Exam in Maths, I used the project as a way of preparing them better for this exam. First, this was done by using some of the tasks for revising (the dictionary was an oportunity for them to revise the main concept they had learned the previous years and Green Areas in Our Towns was very good for revising areas and ratios). The volume task was just what they needed at the moment when they were studying the volumes.

The main benefit of the project was enhancing the students’ motivation, seeing learning in a new way, as a complex and pleasant activity. During the final Secondary School year, they usually see Maths as an exam subject, as a compulsory and  tedious work. Due to this project, they got a new approach and even had fun with this new kind of Maths, as they had never been involved in  a Math project before, especially one using  every-day related tasks and ICT tools that some were very keen of. The grades of the students involved, who were not at the top of their class, visibly improved and they had very good results in the National Examination. They have also improved their communication  and teamwork skills, their level of using English, broadened heir cultural horizon.

From my own point of view, the project got together some tools I had just learned about in Learning Events and PDWs such as GeoGebra and Google Earth. It was useful to be able to practice with them and  interesting to see three etwinning activities converge towards the same learning aim: the Learning Events, the PDW and the projects.
It was also nice to learn from my students, as they were the ones to teach me about Google Sketchup and also some things on video editing.

On the other hand, since at the moment our educational system is changing its focus from acquiring knowledge to acquiring skills and competences, the hands-on aspect of the task, the practical activities such as measuring the classroom or the leaves were very appropriate, because some of the tasks in the exam also have such a practical aspect.

Our work is visible at http://new-twinspace.etwinning.net/web/p19396/welcome.

Our project was awarded with the National and European Quality label, as well as with the Stella Quality Label.

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu a absolvit Facultatea de Matematică a Universităţii Bucureşti şi programul de master "TIC în Educaţie" al Departamentului de Tehnologii al aceleiaşi unversităţi. A participat la mai multe cursuri de formare profesională în acest domeniu, atât în ţară, cât şi în cadrul oportunităţilor de formare oferite de Lifelong Learning Programme. Are o experienţă didactică de 24 de ani, gradul didactic I, iar în prezent îşi desfăşoară activitatea ca profesor de matematică la Şcoala cu clasele I-VIII nr. 195, Bucureşti. Un loc important în cadrul intereselor sale profesionale îl ocupă proiectele educaţionale europene din cadrul Lifelong Learning Programme, în special cele din cadrul acţiunilor eTwinning şi Comenius, în care se implică începând din anul 2005. Este ambasador eTwinning România.