Manuela Correia and her Microsoft Education Lessons on The Skype Plastic Cleanup Brigade

Today I have a great pleasure to present a short conversation with one of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts Ms Manueal Correia. Ms Manuela Correia gives Skype Lessons on a very important subject connected with protection of environment. She teaches students through Skype about dangers connected with plastic.

First of all it was wonderful adventure for me and my students to take part in your Skype Lesson.

Thank you too for the trust!

Haha. Manuela how long have you been giving Skype lessons on Microsoft Educator Community and how did it start?

It all started in August 2017 when my Nigerian friend, Oluwakemi Olurinola, asked me to talk about plastic to some of her students attending a summer camp. I had developed an eTwinning project the year before called BLASTIC. So I gathered all I’ve learned from that project, I researched a lot and came up with the “Skype Plastic Cleanup Brigade” lesson.

I think it’s being a huge success. I’ve covered more than 120 classrooms worldwide since. And I’m getting excellent reviews!

Yes, I am sure about it! It is also interesting that you are a music teacher and the Skype Lesson is about environment. How has it happened?

It was 2013 when I discovered “Skype in the Classroom” (it was an independent company back then) and saw Fabien Cousteau’s “MISSION 31” announcement. His team was looking for classrooms worldwide to connect with him via Skype while he would be living on an underwater lab for 31 days to beat his grandfather’s, Jacques-Ives Cousteau, record of 30 days.

I was working on a Comenius project at the time called “A Voyage of Sea Discovery”, so I immediately applied. After many months of ‘hard negotiations’ I was selected.

So, on 9th June 2014, my students and I had an outstanding and memorable chat with Fabien Cousteau himself. For 31 wonderful and delicious minutes he talked about his work there, made us a tour through the Aquarius, and answered our questions… It was a truly unforgettable moment for all of us! And we were the only school in Portugal to get that chance!

This may have been the trigger that ignited my interest about the ocean, I can’t be sure… Plus the fact that I live in a seaside town and I always cared about the environment, and the animals’ welfare, in particular.

Since I joined eTwinning in April 2010 I’ve developed several projects related to the sea or the water, namely “WaterRings”, “BLASTIC” or “Litter@sea”. In my classes our work focuses on the creative side of the projects’ themes. We usually create a musical piece related to the issues, we present it live and/or record it. But I also make use of the potential of Skype in the Classroom to make my students learn more about the scientific aspects of the themes. I think I’m providing them the best of both worlds by offering them a variety of virtual field trips and talks with experts.

Happy you! I saw lessons with Fabien Cousteau’s “MISSION 31” on the Internet – fantastic adventure!

One of the things I loved from your Skype lesson was the additional materials which we could use before and after the lesson. I noticed that a lot of schools from all over the world took part in it. Can you tell us about some of them?

The tools I offer are collaborative tools that I usually use in my eTwinning projects. I’m very grateful for the collaboration and feedback I’m getting from teachers all over the world. I’ve been in more than 120 classrooms across the planet so far. I’m getting more and more requests and some of the teachers are asking for another lesson for their new students. Others are asking me to connect with them again just to let me know about what they’ve been doing.

Let me give you some examples:

  • US, Texas, El Paso: 1st graders (teacher Stormy Daniels). On the first call I presented my normal lesson about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment to the kids. On the second call, those 6 year olds were discussing with me what they have planned to do. They submitted their awareness video to a competition in their town… and they won!!!
  • India, Bhandara: 12-15 year olds (teacher Farhan Khan). They joined forces with a social group to carry out several cleanup campaigns.
  • US, California, Corona: 7th graders (teacher Celia Warren). Clever talks with very enthusiastic teenagers.
  • Bosnia, Sarajevo: 7th graders (teacher AmelaBehmen-Voloder). A very concerned group of students doing a remarkable job in raising awareness.
  • Thailand, Surao Huamknoi: 8 year olds (teacher Patcharin Wongchompoo). I connected with them several times. They are reusing plastic in many different ways for different purposes.
  • Australia: many different groups. In spite of the late hours, these calls were so worthwhile!
  • Canada, Ontario: 6th graders (teacher Heather MacLean). Probably the next generation of environmentalists!

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It’s amazing to get this wonderful feedback from the teachers I’ve contacted with! It gives me the strength that I need to carry on my quest.

Skype is a very powerful tool. I’m using it to spread the word and raise awareness. So, last summer, I created the “Litter@sea Chats”, little chats where teachers had the chance to share what they’ve done or plan on doing to help fight against this serious threat.

I also created a website – and some of the participants agreed on being part of this team of ‘warriors’ fighting against plastic pollution. I’m planning on doing more of these chats in the future. I think it’s important for teachers to understand that they are not alone on this fight. But I wish I had time to do so much more!

That is magnificient indeed! Do you think that such actions can spread knowledge and change the way of thinking of students and maybe their parents?

Definitely yes! The other day I talked to a 6th grade class from Canada. I noticed that the children were very concerned about what is happening. The next day, one of the mums told the teacher on Twitter that the family has had a long talk over dinner and that now she could no longer use plastic cutlery, plastic bags, products with microbeads and so on.

Can you tell us something about actions which you took part in with your students?

I’ve developed several projects related to this problem. We’ve participated in beach cleanups (one student even found the egg of a ray), and we’ve collected plastic waste, like plastic water bottles, in our town to then use it creatively in our musical pieces. I led a workshop for kindergarten kids and I’m doing my online awareness lessons on a weekly basis.

Is it easy to motivate students in your country to take part in eco-actions?

Not really. As in the rest of the world there are students that really care and others that don’t. But, at least, while they are working on the projects they are listening, learning, and some may even change their behavior afterwards. So we keep pushing every day to raise awareness among young people (and not so young). I believe that we need to learn and understand in order to care and protect. That’s what I’m trying to do also on social media. You may follow me on Twitter (@Litterasea1) or Facebook 

Do you want to add anything more?

Thanks for the opportunity of letting me talk about my work! Single-use plastic is poisoning all the ecosystems on Earth! And humans are also at risk! So we have to stop this nonsense, this mess we all created.

Yes, you are absolutely right! We must take steps towards eco-friendly life otherwise we and our children will have huge problems. In fact we already have them – we can observe it nowadays all over the world.

It was a great pleasure to have you on my blog and speak about such important things. Thank you Manuela I am sure we will meet with some other classes once again!


MANUELA CORREIA – a music teacher in Portugal. She began her professional career at the age of 17. She has a degree in Music Education and Piano. Throughout her career shehas  always sought for innovation, having participated in several didactics and musical pedagogy courses, both in Portugal and abroad. She has developed numerous eTwinning projects with her students and has participated in several eTwinning meetings and conferences at national and European level, having won seven national prizes and one European award. She was the coordinator of the school newspaper between 2003 and 2016. She is a MIEExpert (Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert) since 2016 and a Skype Master Teacher since 2017. In August 2017 she has created a Skype lesson – „The Skype Plastic Cleanup Brigade” – and has been in many classrooms all over the world since. She is the founder of the Facebook group „BLASTIC & Litter@sea” and a member of a local group called „Desplastic”. She is married and a mother of two.


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