Brazilian Experiences with Digital Technologies
By Andreia Machado Castiglioni de Araújo, MLitt. UEFS/Brazil
We currently live in a hyper-connected society, immersed in a "liquid modernity" (Bauman, 2001), whose reality has increasingly entered the walls of schools. Despite the fact that many underdeveloped countries, such as Brazil, bring a delay in accessing cutting-edge technologies, many teachers have used creativity to ensure the dissemination of knowledge with the digital resources they have in their real educational environment.
Figure 1. Group Selfie: Andreia Machado Castiglioni de Araújo in Teacher Training (Aug. 2018)
In Feira de Santana, Brazil
In this article, some experiences will be shared about the uses of digital technologies as a support for classroom teaching and learning, based on my experiences in a small town in the interior of Bahia in Brazil’s northeast, named Feira de Santana. This study is connected with the main topics of pedagogical practices to K12 learning, and, also, professional development in K12, especially because these experiences happened in elementary schools focused on 6th to 9th grades.
In the first moment, I will present my Master degree's research that occurred from 2016 to 2018. That research was based on the study of language, within local culture and history, with authorial interactive activities in a virtual place. In this case, it was an experimental action in our city to have one Digital Board in each of the 26 municipal public schools, but it didn’t happen satisfactorily, because the majority of teachers didn’t use this technology. So, the motivation was about an effective use of this technology in the classes, creating some pedagogical materials related to our context.
In these meetings, some students interact with each other with varied games and activities created for this tool, like puzzles, memory games, hangman games, and quizzes, between other materials like videos or photos, comparing the past and the present in our city. Also, we have access to many kinds of texts (poems, narratives, etc) expressing our local culture. This experience brought different possibilities to use this tool for broadening the students’ learning in 7th grade and the the student's protagonism.
The methodology used in this research was a qualitative approach, through an intervention proposal (Damiani, 2012), in order to demonstrate the students' advances in the textual production of the genre Literary Memories, based on comparing their initial texts with the final texts. The intervention took place in the first academic quarter (in 2017), in four weekly meetings for two months. For data production, we made a logbook and analysis grid of students' written productions, as well as a diagnostic questionnaire and scriptures of the participants.
Qualitative Improvements from Multimodal Digital Resources
The results of this study showed that the use of multimodal resources contributed qualitatively to the teaching-learning process, in addition to stimulating students’ protagonist performance, bringing frequency as one of the variables for the advancement of their knowledge. Still, we realize that the diffusion of local history and culture drives discoveries outside the school, bringing them closer to their community.
Figure 2. Master's Degree
The FESTLING English Project to Improve Reading
In the same year, an English project was built using digital media, in particular YouTube and Facebook, and culminating in a festival of student presentations. This festival was related with the Language area, and was named “FESTLING” connecting some students (6th to 9th grade) with the art and the international language.
The justification for this project brought the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), in 2015, regarding the reading capacity, revealed a drop in the performance of Brazilian students (396 points in 2000, advancing in 412 points in 2009 and regressing by 407 points in 2015).
Looking more deeply at these data, regarding the administrative spheres, we found that the municipal school system had the lowest average reading (325 points, as opposed to the federal level with 528 points). The IDEB (Basic Education Development Index) scores, which aims to know the learning level of students in Portuguese (Brazil Evaluation), also showed a drop in the performance of students in municipal schools.
The Law of Guidelines and Bases of Education (LDBEN / Brazil, 1996) mentions in its Article 3 some principles such as the freedom to learn and disseminate culture, art and knowledge; the pluralism of pedagogical ideas and conceptions; the guarantee of quality standard; the appreciation of after-school experience; and the link between school education and social practices. The National Education Plan (PNE / Brazil, 2001) aims, in its Goal 7, to promote the quality of basic education in all stages and modalities, improving the school flow and learning, as well as the implementation of curricular dynamics that favor meaningful learning.
Our municipality also published a law No. 3,326 (Feira de Santana, 2012), which brings some objectives and priorities similar to that of the PNE, which are, in short, the global increase of the population's educational level and the improvement of the quality of education at all school levels. In view of the concern of the municipal school institutions to stimulate the students in the consolidation of their knowledge about the basic and structuring contents, especially English.
In this case, the students learnt many English songs and they watched some videos with the steps of dancing to inspire them for their own presentation, using the YouTube platform like a virtual place to connect our classes with the English culture. So, they could present their talents through dancing, singing and theater in English and
we publicize this event with public people their great presentations using Facebook (Lévy, 1993, 1999; Recuero, 2014; Santos, 2016; Silva & Couto, 2015).
Figure 3. Festival FESTLING
Finally, after that experience, there was an invitation from the Department of Learning in Municipal Secretary of Education to participate in the Professional development of English teachers, which I could share with them some ideas that I learnt and practiced in my formations of lifelong learning, also during the pursuit of the Master's degree. This action was the coordination of the English in the Elementary School Curriculum Group (Middle School), with the role of mediating teacher education.
Professional Development of English Teachers
Professional development was organized in meetings with other English teachers to discuss the theory and the practice of using authorial software with the idea of "do it yourself" in the creation of materials and free digital tools, such as Ardora, Prezi, Canva, Powtoon, among others. These English teachers participated in a workshop named “Digital Technologies in the Classroom” using our Mobile Internet on a bus with the proposal to build pedagogical and digital materials to be used in their classrooms.
There was also interest in deepening the study to develop mediated actions in which teachers will be multipliers of knowledge, reflecting on the possible advances for their professional performance in view of the contributions of professional development and curricular aspects to a pluricultural, interdisciplinary and contextualized methodology (Freire, 1996; Giroux, 1997).
This proposal intended to share the conception of dialogued authorship (Foucault, 1992) during the professional development of English teachers (Bautista & Ortega-Ruiz, 2015; Desmione & Garet, 2015) that generated changes in their respective practices, making them more media and digital focused on classroom authorship. These experiences aimed to encourage the interactive use of various technological supports, made available in educational environments (school and development environment), to create didactic-pedagogical materials in digital culture. It also aimed to disseminate multimodal experiences with other teachers, developed in a creative and accessible way, through interfaces that contemporary society has already incorporated into routine.
This study fostered a focus on critical-collaborative action research (Kincheloe, 1997; Pimenta, 2005; Thiollent, 2000; Westbrook, 1995) with a qualitative methodology. Data were recorded using oral/writing instruments as feedback from the subjects involved (elementary school students and teachers from the same area participating in the formative moments). These actions took place between 2018 and 2019, when data analysis was performed. Thus, there was a satisfactory degree of return to the use of digital technologies by students and teachers of municipal public schools in Feira de Santana. As an extension to this study, we propose to continue with the professional development of teachers to further spread knowledge and the increasing use of digital technologies effectively through classroom multimodality.
Figure 4. Andreia Machado Castiglioni de Araújo in Teacher Training Class (July 2018)
Finally, significant experiences occurred in public schools using their real content to enable interesting classes, with more interactive moments mediated by digital technologies and social media so latent in the lives of these students. As future perspectives, we will start writing the curricular proposal of this discipline by building pillars focused on a communicative and contextualized approach of the foreign language, associated with the effective use of new technologies and quality improvement for elementary school education.
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(Note: The References list was received in an improper format. The coeditors strove to revise to accuracy, but the auto-generation of the references list was problematic.)
About the Author
Andreia Machado Castiglioni de Araújo graduated as an English and Portuguese Teacher, with a Specialization course in Education and Social-cultural plurality and Master degree in Letters, from Feira de Santana’State University (UEFS). She works as an English teacher in the Municipal Public School (Elementary) and English Curriculum Coordination at Municipal Secretary of Education of Feira de Santana. Research areas/interests: Education, Digital Technologies, Professional development of teachers, English and Curriculum critical theory.
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Digital board appears as a tool that provides for the insertion of didactic-pedagogical objects with historical-cultural themes and interaction between students. These materials were built during this research, based on a didactic sequence (Dolz; Noverraz; Schneuwly, 2004), produced by the teacher-researcher, which has as its theme the city of Feira de Santana, its singularities and popular narratives.
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