OUR CLOTHES Echoes of the time in the actual fashion image Lavinia Butnariu 1 Technical College “Maria Baiulescu”, Brasov, Romania 1. INTRODUCTION As a result of the invitation I received to participate to the 3 rd meeting of the “i.e.Us” project, I considered, as head teacher of the institution-host of the meeting: Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” Brasov-Romania, that this fact shall represent a new international cooperation opportunity in the purpose of the institutional development. At that time, I was considering that, the involving of many teachers in that team teacher who is going to experiment the “i.e. Us” game at school class as educational environment, simply complies with the development priorities of the school, by introducing the innovation in the teaching- learning activity. Moreover, as I know my colleagues, I think - using the “similarities and differences” game – is stimulation for them to explore new educational methods in the end to help their students to learn actively, consciously and pleasantly. Considering the presentation of the project objectives, the covered stages, but especially the two web based tools, I wished to take part in the experimentation of using the ICT platform in the learning-teaching process. There were very attractive the denomination: “game”, not a sophisticated instrument for “learning”, the accessibility of the two versions: http://merlin.hull.ac.uk and http://ieus.cti.gr and also the huge possibilities of development some communication competencies and of working in team. I analysed the variants I dispose in order to experiment the game at my lectures (not too many because my number of teaching hours is reduced), and I decided to apply this game during the guiding hours for the graduation designs of the students from the XII class. From the beginning I thought that, introducing this game in conceiving the graduation projects should be something new in order to make students to work together, in team, because I noticed in the previous years that students usually intend to work individually. The success of the project is a reason of a personal proud. Also I hoped, this game should allow to have many speciality information about the environment influence on the clothing, should allow comments upon different opinions and accepting different points of view, or, at least, their negotiation. But the most I loved the idea that, by introducing a game inside our lectures, we determine a detachment from the routine of the traditional 80 Lavinia Butnariu lectures and the competencies are obtained in a relaxed mode, more similar to the real life. 2. OUR SCHOOL - TECHNICAL COLLEGE “MARIA BAIULESCU” BRASOV-ROMANIA Through its representatives, wishes to be considered as an institution of a dynamical, opened professional instruction and training, involved in the local community life, moreover, in the actions of national and international co-operation. Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” Brasov-Romania is the unique institution of pre-university instruction from Brasov county where it is assured the qualification of young people as workers and technicians in the domain of textile-leather. In the last 10 years it enlarged its instruction competence also in the field of public food. Our school is placed in the central zone of the city, in fact in the old – Middle Age - fortress of Brasov, near the “Bastionul Tesatorilor” (the old weavers’ bastion), a veritable stone testimony of the old time preoccupations of Brasov habitants, renowned for their trade and skills. Brasov, one of the biggest Romanian industrial towns, finds at present in a stage of economical reorganization (liquidation of the great state units) with a redirection of the weight towards the development of the private sector, industrial and tertiary too. The unemployment rate is increased enough (11% in 2004), especially for the feminine population (environ 13.4%). Our school domain determines a proportion of girls from the total students’ population of 83%. The yearly students’ number is of 1100, 60% at the High School and 40% at the Vocational and Art School. Students have an age between 15 and 19 years. Also, our students come from families with social or materials problems: mono-parental families, families with one or both parents working abroad and children are left in the grandparents care or even in the care or bigger brothers, families affected by the unemployment. The familial situation influences our students’ opinion concerning their possibilities to progress as human being, alters their vision about labour and doesn’t motivate them to learn. Concerning the school teachers, I believe we have a teacher team well prepared, coagulated and preoccupied by each student personal and professional development, by forming of the necessary competencies in order to may participate to our society progress. The instructional offer varied permanently in order to correspond to the market demands but also in accordance with students’ desires to be specialized in domains with perspective. The education and the professional instruction of the students from the “Maria Baiulescu” Technical College are Our Clothes 81 carried out through the development and implementation of a curriculum adapted to the actual demand and also through complementary actions of: – permanent collaboration with the economical agents from our domain – participation to national and international collaboration projects – professional orientation and consulting – cultural, sportive and artistic education The curriculum for technical study matters is one of modern type, which refers to the future graduated instruction, so that, their chances to be included as professional and social points of view, increased. This objective can be realized through: 1. development of the professional competencies according to the actual training standards 2. forming abilities of orientation, integration and adaptation to the labour market. 3. THEME SELECTION The graduation project of the High School determines, if it is positively appreciated, the obtaining of a Certificate of professional qualification in the chosen specialty and has a interdisciplinary character. It is carried out in the last study year, in a time period between December and April and it is presented in month of May. The criteria according of which it is settled the theme and the number of students who participated to it are not compulsory norms, so that, I considered we have any impediment to implement and apply the “i.e. Us” game. On the contrary, we considered this fact to motivate the students and moreover, applying this strategy, their professional competencies should develop in the same proportion as their communication abilities, also those of working in team, of using languages of international circulation, of using IT and communication techniques. a) The project theme: “Echoes of the time in the actual fashion image” was chosen by common agreement with class students – they surpassed in this way a first and important stage, learning to negotiate. b) In the next stage, we established the project structure and the students, organised in pairs, chose a time period for which they studied the fashion characteristics (Antic Egypt, Antic Rome, Romanticism, Art Nouveau, New Look, Hippie, etc.). Each team member gathers documentation individually (according to the selected bibliography), synthesised the information and, coming back, he discussed, analysed, negotiated and decided together with his pair the fashion characteristics in the studied period. In this way it is realised a first negotiation exercise. c) Next stage consisted in establish the similarities and differences between the studied period and the actual -one clothing, activity developed in pair too and finalised through the performing, by each student, of a set of sketches with modern products inspired by the analysed period. This was 82 Lavinia Butnariu the activity by the intermediate of which, each team member was able to express himself graphically, to exploit at a great degree his creativity but, it was also a first stage to establish the similarities and differences upon a given theme. d) Next stage consisted in choice of only a sketch from all, made by each student, and then the elaboration of the technical documentation for the chosen product (materials selection, patterns, frames in order to cut, settled the process of product manufacturing and finishing. In this stage there are improved and/or obtained the most of the general and specialised technical competencies. e) The last stage consisted in execution of the conceived product, an execution to a real scale according to the technological process, previously established. There were valorised the students’ executive competencies. After the project presentation, students organised a mini fashion show of the conceived products, conceived and executed by them; every year, this moment represents an event for our school. Unfortunately, I was too preoccupied with the students’ activity, taking care to accumulate information which we used during the game, so that I slowed to announce our proposal to the group of teachers who experimented the method. It can be said that this was happened also because of the conditions in which our school functioned during 6 month (from October 2004 till March 2005). This time our school functioned in another space because it was rehabilitated by the intermediate of a Phare programme. In that space we haven’t conditions to install computers, so that it was very difficult to contact our partners. Another impediment consists in the fact I considered unlikely to find foreign partners because there was too many conditions to be fulfilled. I “forgot” that there are necessary two teams to play a game and the first step would be establishing the subject by common agreement. We were too involved in preparing us for a game which we are going to play in conditions settled only by us. At a certain moment, we organised in the school laboratory an activity, besides the school programme, in order to present the virtual environment to students and to familiarise them with it. In February, in the occasion of a national meeting with colleagues having the same speciality, I proposed them to play together according to the “i.e. Us” game, developed inside the graduation project. Of course, all these projects were started still in December, so that I did not find partners, however, I was contacted by colleagues from Cluj and Constanta, interested of my proposal for the next year. Thus we should cancel the game idea, students finished their projects and those presentation in Mai, was a success. They remained, however, with the un-fulfilment that they “did not play” and I think they feel the frustration of Our Clothes 83 non-respect the project initial plan, in which it was, included the sequence of using the virtual teaching environment. At the beginning of June, the Romanian project co-ordinator organised a national meting of the teachers – participating in the “i.e. Us” project and the game implementation. In the end of analyse the developed activity and of development of a methodology in order to a rapid organisation of other games. Fortunately, Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” was again the host of this meeting. If the meeting would take place in another place, I should not dare to take part in because the use of the virtual environment rested only an intention in our case. The experience and enthusiasm of teachers who finished the game determine me to reconsider the idea of the “i.e.Us” game implementation, in spite of the impediments: the time – very short until the year end, the impossibility of involving the students of XII class who prepared to sustain the school leaving exam. However, there were advantages: it could be valorised the colleagues’ experience, many persons could offer us “assistance” if we need it in order to avoid faults they still had made. Another advantage was that it could be exploited the materials realised by the XII class students, in the case of keeping the same theme. I decided, by common agreement with Silviana Ciocianu that our teams shall play on the theme: “Echoes of the time in the actual fashion image”, the subject being: “How the 60s’ fashion is reflected in the actual clothing?” This subject was chosen because, in the occasion of graduation designs presentation, the students from XII class decided that the actual clothing is very influenced by the 60s’ fashion. At the project meeting from November 2004 and also at the one from June 2005, both educational web based environment, which implement the same game without significant differences between them, were presented and critically analysed. The conclusion was that both of them are adequate to be used at class and I agreed to choose http://ieus.cti.gr because Silviana finalised a game in this educational space and it was familiar for her. 3.1 Description and organisation of students’ team Except the lectures from the XII class, I don’t have courses at other classes and I don’t work as teacher with other students, so that I decide to select a group of students from XI class, profile: clothing design, to take part in this game. The selection was made according to two reasons: – students are going to familiarise with the graduation project demands and to use information found in it, so that they should study it in detail and, in this way, it will be easier next year when they will work to their own graduation project.. 84 Lavinia Butnariu – students from the respective class still had been involved in other local or international projects. Some of them take part in the group of volunteers of Brasov Town Hall, group acting in the ecological domain for a cleaner town, others worked in a project “Healthy eating” in which we worked together, so that I knew them. The team of 11 students from the XI class was selected at students desire from a total of 25 students. When I announced the theme, these students expressed their wishes to take part in and I had to select from these, those having the best knowledge in computer operating and in English language. But it wasn’t the case! All the 11 students fulfil the conditions in order to make a competitive team. It was a homogenous team, they worked from a long time together, and they were involved in diverse projects and knew each other very well. The choice of the leader wasn’t a problem and their girl-mate, chosen as leader, assumed this role which she has had also in other occasions. The choice of the spokesman was between two students – a girl and a boy - who had a number of votes equally sensible: 5 to 4. They chose their girl-mate as speaker because she had communication aptitudes, but I think it was also because the team was preponderantly feminine. During all the time the project was developed, students were enthusiastic because they took part in such a project, the teaching developed in a very friendly environment that stimulated their creativity and that allowed them to train each other to search and discover new things, but also to negotiate and to respect different opinions. Students had inside the team the desired role, but they assumed also others if it was the case. Also as a result of our “debates” we decide to call our team “The Milliners” and it was a generally disappointment that finally we were called Light Industry High School Brasov team because, there is a year our school doesn’t call like this. The Silviana team (from the Forestry High School Codlea) was composed only of girls, students in the XI class, technological High School, profile: natural resources and environment protection. It was a number of 12 students, volunteers. Indeed, girls are always interested in fashion, actual or the 60th years or the clothing fashion evolution and influence over the years. During the game, the Forestry Codlea team hasn’t remarkable problems concerning the connection and the messages posting, both personal or lists and theme documents. Two team members took part also in the other game about Nutrition; in this way they were able to help their mates. The leader was designated by Silviana and was a girl who took part in last game too; she was very active and appreciated by the entire team. The students volunteer participation determines them to involve themselves in activities and to study materials, both the ones given them by the team of Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” and also those procured by own resources. Besides materials, the team students talk to mates from other classes (especially girls, but not only), asking them about the mode of dressing in Our Clothes 85 different occasions, their preferences concerning clothing and then they used the received information. 3.2 First meeting in the computer lab The “The Milliners” team had the first meeting in the computer lab, after elaborating, in the occasion of other two meetings, the own synthesis in connection with the proposed subject, and after these-ones translation in English language. All discussions concerning the subject were previously consumed; we had still the user-name and password, so that we have only to act. First, I presented them the game space: http://ieus.cti.gr and I guided them in order to connect themselves to the subject “Our clothes” by using their name and password. At the sequence end, they succeeded to edit their own short presentations in English and also to transmit their own messages in “Open Space”. At the beginning they were timid enough and they asked at each click what is going to happen. They were careful concerning their presentations, which they wanted to be original, different from their mates- ones. After only 10’, the atmosphere relaxed and the team members acted as they used from a long time the game space. The questions’ number about next step decreased and each student, in his own rhythm, fulfils the task for that sequence. Each of them posted the own message in Open Space: a short presentation of hobbies, preoccupations and holiday plans or a e-mail address. Thus, the two groups knew each other in a relax atmosphere. Even we agreed the messages to be in Romanian in order to communicate easier, the English language wasn’t a problem, many of students editing their personal messages in English. In this way, our students, using English language which they study at school lectures, developed the professional competencies and also the competencies of computer operating. I affirm also, and not at last, that, by playing, they establish connections with mates from other schools, found common preoccupations, expressed the desire to know each other. However, I must recognise that the problems appeared at the beginning in the game space are of my fault, because I was scared I’m not familiarised enough with virtual space (all previous tests were realised on Merlin), I have not the assistance of a more experimented colleague; in this way I “succeed” to obstruct, in the first 5’, the access of all students in the game space. I solicited, by phone, Silviana help and she guides us in order to start first round. Moreover, during all game time, Silviana accorded us assistance with patience and professionalism, and the fact we could contact her whenever we need, was an important advantage for us. Thus, after the first 5’ of panic, I was delighted to find that each student knew what to do – from the previous meeting, he found by himself or he learned from his mates. 86 Lavinia Butnariu I considered indeed that this first meeting with the game space was a success and I felt the need to congratulate the “Scormonitorii” (researchers) team on Open Space. Any obstacle which we were not able to surpass in time could provoke a game time delay and it wasn’t possible because school year was at the end. 3.3 Activity description I thought, from the moment of theme settlement, the fact the two teams had different objectives, to be a stimulation; the waited results were not common because one of the teams, those of Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” included future specialists while the other: those of “Forestry Codlea” included students for which the subject was a hobby. In the first case, the “i.e.Us” game was applied inside some speciality lessons, while in the second case, it was applied inside some extracurricular activities. For this reason, the two lessons structure, according to the lessons plans, wasn’t similar. Concerning the activity organisation, we consider that it can be used with good results the ERR background method (evocation - realisation of the sense – reflection). The ERR background method is an excellent mean to guide a text lecture, either literary or scientific, whatever were the students’ age. This background stages allow the organisation of a speciality material by furnishing the support to generate the sense: a) the evocation – the precursory discussion about the subject was realised in our lesson through brainstorming b) the sense realisation was performed by the intermediate of a study guide which allowed to students to direct their investigations upon some ideas from the informational material found at their disposal. The study guide helped the students to get certain thought models or subtle ideas which they, probably, otherwise, wouldn’t have understood; we can say that this guide allowed to students to develop thoughts of superior level. c) the reflection - the following discussion leads to obtaining some information non-mentioned in the evocation stage and which are later on synthesised in a list: first individual list for each student. The utilisation of the ERR background method in order to synthesise the information about the clothing actual tendencies and about the 60th years fashion, permitted to realise some important objectives: – helped students to generate questions for themselves – allowed students to express their own opinions which must be respected – stimulated the students’ critical involving. In the occasion of their meetings, students carried out specific tasks which can determine the forming of their specialised technical competencies: Our Clothes 87 1. they elaborated a catalogue – for the sketches they had - with the samples of the materials used for each product 2. they identified and elaborated the list of model transformations in the case of classical patterns 3. they performed paper casting for some of the sketched products. In this way it was possible that, inside a speciality theme, to be projected sequences which lead to the objectives fulfilment, without any rebate from the quality and by using different methods: the ERR background method, the “i.e. Us” game, the directed remark, the exercise. The proper game, the activity in the virtual space, prevents the routine settlement, it was an excellent teaching modality but also a stimulation in order to continue the investigation to get more and more information. 4. CONCLUSIONS A complex activity as the-one developed by us, certainly has many aspects which can be analysed. a) Students’ benefits: – they manifest their interest and creativity in studying a speciality subject, in an inciting and relaxed atmosphere – they were able to develop the capacity to synthesise the information – they had the occasion to know themselves, their own qualities and limits, they accustomed to express their opinions, to sustain the own point of view with arguments, to accept other points of view and even to make compromises – by working in teams, students were obliged to collaborate for the editing of their affirmations, they assumed roles – sometimes unpleasant, they assumed also responsibilities, carried out at the end – they settled contacts with their team mates, in this way knowing them better, and other contacts, with other young people, even personal relationship – they learned to communicate efficiently – they improved the speciality vocabulary in English language and they developed their communication competencies in this language – there are developed the competencies of computer communication too. b) Teachers’ benefits – they used new methods - active-participated, which allowed to carry out the proposed objectives in a friendly, relaxed working atmosphere – they knew better the students, their possibilities to work in team, to negotiate and they could make them responsible for a task performance – they collaborated with teachers from other schools. c) School benefits 88 Lavinia Butnariu – The applying of the “i.e. Us” game to 5 different teams allows in a first instance to settle contacts with schools from our country and from abroad. – The use of the “i.e. Us” game contributes, in an important mode, to elaborate the development priority regarding the evolution of the teachers’ professional competencies, through: – The innovation of the teaching-learning methods by using ICT education technologies – The centred teaching-learning processes on the student, according to the individual needs and to the own rhythm. d) Research study The game utilisation contributed also to form a favourable background necessary for the elaboration of a research study, concerning the team management. The teachers involved in the games: “Our clothes”, “Reasons why we are working for”, are interested to study the team, as a result of a training stage organised at the House of Didactical Corps from Brasov. The “i.e. Us” game was an occasion by the intermediate of which the taking part in students’ teams were studied but also the teachers working for and constituted in a team, were studied. The initiative of a study of the teachers’ team, was the exclusive result of this project taking part in and offered to us, the teachers, the opportunity to form and to act as a team, even we are from different schools or even our lesson objectives were not the same. In order to study the interaction of the students from the teams participating to the game “Our clothes”, there have been applied questionnaires about: the team members’ roles (based on “Dale’s interaction categories”), the team cohesiveness (Seashore’s index and Gross and Yalom’s questionnaire), leadership, the evaluation of taken a decision and team efficiency (from Beatrice G. Schultz “Communicating in small groups”). Both of teams were composed from members who knew each other and who took part together in projects and, by comparing the results, we arrived to the following conclusions: – Roles in the team: Students from Technical College “Maria Baiulescu”, in a proportion of 62%, felt and played the favorite role and also other roles when need it, while only 50% from the “Forestry Codlea” students had this impression. The role that each student felt he played in the team, coincides with the kind in which the respective student was perceived by the other team members during the game development in a proportion of 80% in the case of “Scormonitorii” and in a proportion of 85% in the case of “Forestry Codlea”. In both of teams, the leader was perceived as such by all the team members, but, at the Technical College “Maria Baiulescu” the leader saw himself as a leader, while at “Forestry Codlea” the leader considered himself as a harmonization member. Our Clothes 89 – Cohesiveness of the team: The members of both of teams considered the developed game as an attractive or very attractive game and they would keep the team composition if they would take part in other project. 85% from ’The Milliners” team members always felt themselves as a really part of the team, while 80% from the “Forestry Codlea” team members felt the same. The rest of members from both of teams felt included the most of times. – Decision taking: At the Technical College “Maria Baiulescu”, only 53% from the team members felt always listened to and well perceived by the rest of the team; at “Forestry Codlea” this proportion was of 80% (always listened to). One of the reasons was because of the fact “the Milliners” studied a specialty subject, new for them, while “Forestry Codlea” discussed about a hobby. The adjectives describing the mode to take decisions were: clearly, unanimous, democratic. – Team efficiency: The Milliners considered that “the team has opened lines to communicate” and the “Forestry Codlea” students considered that their team functions in a climate of trust and mutual aid. The least score was given for affirmations about the team transparence, the reason being probably the time – very short so that it was not possible that the team results and activities to be known by other mates, from other classes. Both of teams manifest their interest to continue the game with subjects belonging to the same theme. Moreover, they wanted to know each other, so that we decided to organize together a carnival of the 60s’, with costumes and music from those years, at the end of October. The “similarities and differences” game awakes to students the happiness to think and to learn by themselves, with responsibility and makes them able to decide upon the own career, to pass away through life with spiritual mobility, despite all future provocations.