The basic idea was to organise Maths problem solving contests with mixed-national teams of 6 students (one per nation) from 6 different nations over a period of three years and to publish problems, solutions to all of them, plus the rules and regulations, created by the teams of teachers from: Italy; Poland; Hungary; the UK; Germany and France. Single-nation teams will compete with each other on line in between project contests before transnational meetings. The coordinating school is Italy and the working language is English. In the handbook many of the materials appear in all the participating partners' languages.
How the idea started. This idea originated from a general cross-European need in schools; that of discovering ways to make Maths more approachable and appealing. Many students across Europe have difficulties with Maths compared to students from Asia, for example European students`results are not always satisfactory in OCSE-P.I.S.A. reports. This can be demotivating, dispiriting and lead to dropping the subject in the future. Italian experience has convinced us that a change in attitude towards the teaching of Maths, thanks to the organisation and the participation in recreational contests, can help students to approach this subject more willingly and confidently and this could perhaps influence them to choose Science, Engineering and Statistic subjects more often. The Arts and Humanities are more popular than the Sciences in European universities because students have preconceived ideas about Maths. This leads to a lack of mathematicians in various fields and has a negative impact on the European economy and employability.
General aims - The project aims to enhance collaborative skills and promote the concept that problem solving can be fun when done together and in teams of people from different cultures. Group collaboration, team spirit, the choice of how to conduct recreational Maths contests are all elements which add value and benefits to activities of this kind and provide further motivation for improvements in attitude and approach to the subject.
- It aims to reinforce an already established alliance with some partners but also create new school partnerships and European contacts and so promote European consciousness. - The participation of teachers in this project, the possibilities of exchanging their experience will contribute to the possession of new teaching methods. In this project there will be the need not only for teachers of Maths and Foreign Language teachers but also for computer programmers, Physics and others. - It aims to raise achievement levels and build confidence by increasing the attractiveness of Maths lessons and the effectiveness of teaching by reducing the distance in teacher-pupil relationships. - A project of this kind will hopefully have a positive knock-on effect on youngsters' choices in the future employment market.
Immediate objectives Within our project we aim to have addressed the above-mentioned needs by: - pinpointing key concepts in the teaching of Maths through a comparative study of programmes in both eastern and western European countries; - organising intercultural Maths team contests where competent students can share their skills with others and less able students can improve and learn calculation skills and problem-solving strategies from the more talented; - fostering cooperative learning where team activities will encourage self confidence and a healthy competitive team spirit will aid the learning process and students will no longer be afraid to make mistakes; - increasing the desire to collaborate thanks to the possibility of seeing the results and classification leagues immediately; - creating the chance for students rise to the challenge with confidence and take risks; - encouraging students to experiment with original strategies to problem solving and to discuss their results and techniques with others in order to investigate better approaches; -strengthening the desire to succeed and to put in more effort when required; - transforming the idea that mistakes are elements of failure into the concept that mistakes provide an incentive for improvement and learning and are an essential part of the learning process.
In what way is the project innovative and complementary to other projects already carried out? The project is complementary to other international projects that have been carried out over the past 15 years, in particular with a view to exploring CLIL methodology. Cross-cultural Sports, History, Literature and Science projects have been planned and delivered among some of the partners but others are completely new to European projects. However, one innovative aspect of the project is the collaboration of the Maths departments in the participating institutions. Another innovative element is the collaboration between both western and eastern European partners on an international Maths project. The Italian school itself has both participated in and organised many Maths Team contests. We now feel it is time to share and develop this experience on an international level with more and more western and eastern European countries.
Cooperation and communication Regular communication between partner schools have taken place by providing information using e-mail, facebook groups, fax and phone. Exchange of information has been regularly done electronically and mainly by e-mail. All the hosting schools kept contact between the partners, during different phases of the project and before the transnational project meetings. Generally speaking, organisational tasks were shared proportionally, for example: Italy had general coordination, created and delivered the first two tests for training sessions and publish the solutions to the problems. It also organised an initial training session for the teachers involved on how to use the software and create the contests; and organised an ultimate extra meeting Each partner contributed to each Maths contest by preparing 5 or more questions/problems. The hosting country of the transnational project meetings gathered the questions and solutions, selected 20 (from the 30 or more prepared) and organise a training and the contest. Besides each partner prepared problems and wrote solutions of an on-line training session, held by national teams. Poland organised and run the first contest. Poland filmed activities and is preparing a DVD. The UK created and delivered the third test, organised and run the second contest. Germany created and delivered the forth test, organised and run the third contest. Germany collected all the materials in .docx or in .pdf format, and made this handbook Hungary created and delivered the second test, the fifth test and the extra-test, organise and run the fourth contest. France created and delivered the sixth test, run the final contest and conclusive discussions leading to the closing phase of the project. All partners will collaborate with the final gathering of data and results. Each country will collaborate to produce the final publication and solutions. Competition results were published live on WWW.CAMPIGOTTO.IT. Contest results as students play could be seen directly on-line.
Purpose, frequency and participants of the transnational project meetings:
The main purpose of the transnational meetings were to deliver the international Maths contests but also to run workshops, training (practice) sessions, discuss feedback from activities between meetings, particularly from the problems of the contests, and make arrangements for the handbook. This happened twice a year (once in autumn and once in spring) except for the first meeting, which was primarily a training session for teachers on how to use the software needed to run the competitions. A time span of 4/5 months between meetings was necessary to be able to prepare questions, validate and launch the Maths problems for practice and competition sessions. Each partner brought at least 8 participants (2 teachers and 6 students) to each meeting. The Maths topics, the age (15-17) and individual skills of the students were decided in the first transnational meeting in Italy at the coordinating school after the comparison of the syllabi. There have been more than one evaluation session and gathering of results to work on in the follow-up phases of the project meetings.
General long term results An improvement in approaches to the subject of Maths (for both teachers and students), integration of good recreational practice in the curriculum, an exchange of good practice between eastern and western European schools, the development of collaborative skills, the development of ICT competencies, the establishment of new partnerships and the consolidation of previously established ones. The development, testing and implementation of innovative practices in schools through transnational initiatives fostering team skills to encourage active European citizenship.