Primary school teacher Dorien brings positivity in times of corona

Pupils are using eTwinning to talk to other school children abroad.
Posted by Jeroen Langelaar

Primary school teacher Dorien Haaima wants to make sure her pupils also have some fond memories of the current 'corona era’. She is using eTwinning, an online platform, to help them connect with other children of the same age in eight different European countries.

“Today is ‘Koningsspelen’ in the Netherlands. A day filled with sports activities, originally started in 2013 by our king Willem Alexander. We started this morning with some online sports activities. We had a lot of fun!”

Just a random post on the #togetherathome project's eTwinning page set up by Dorien Haaima, primary school teacher to group 6B at the Mgr. Bekkersschool in Veendam. The post was written by one of her pupils, and ended up being read by fellow pupils in Georgia, Turkey, Romania, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Italy and Slovakia.


The #togetherathome project all started when teacher Dorien posted a question on the eTwinning partner forum. “Pupils and teachers across Europe are all in the same boat right now”, Dorien explains. “We're all stuck at home due to the coronavirus. I felt we needed some positivity, so I posted on the forum to ask teachers in other countries for ideas. I'd already received responses from colleagues in Spain and Italy within one day, and the replies just kept coming after that. It was really remarkable.”

(Text continues below image)

“We're all stuck at home due to the coronavirus. I felt we needed some positivity.” - Dorien Haaima, group 6B, Mgr. Bekkersschool

Spark curiosity

It only took a week to set up #togetherathome: a project designed to help children from various European countries share their experiences during the coronavirus era. Schoolwork, tips, games, music, interesting facts about their country – everything is welcome. The pupils share their contributions via text messages, photos and videos, after which their peers from other countries can then respond.

Dorien feels it's important to introduce her pupils to other languages at an early age. However, that isn't her only objective. “I want to make sure they don't just remember all the drama and misery when they look back on the corona era. I hope they will also look back on this period as a time where they got in touch with children in other countries. If you want children to learn, you need to spark their curiosity. Start talking about other countries, and children immediately perk up. In an added benefit, the project is also helping them improve their English.”

(Text continues below image)

“I've been learning to write and speak English. I hope we keep doing this when corona goes away.” - Lars Kolodziej, group 6B, Mgr. Bekkersschool

Live video link

Judging by her pupils' responses, Dorien's idea seems to have been successful. “I'm really enjoying the eTwinning project”, explains Lars Kolodziej from group 6B. “I've been learning to write and speak in English. It's also fun to see the other children's photos and videos. I hope we can keep doing this when corona goes away.”

For any teachers interested in starting a similar project, Dorien recommends visiting the eTwinning partner forum. “Just post something, you always get a response.” She hopes to end the project on a high note at the start of the summer holidays. “I'd love to end the project with a live video linkup between classes in different countries. I did that at our last school and it was so much fun. That's the sort of moment children will never forget.”

Getting started with eTwinning

The online eTwinning community is intended for teachers at primary and secondary schools, senior secondary vocational education institutions and teacher training institutes. The platform allows them to gain international experience in a free and secure environment, to develop IT skills and to process compulsory learning material in an inspiring way.

More about eTwinning

Lees dit artikel in het Nederlands: Juf Dorien brengt positiviteit in coronatijd