Journal posts Journal posts

Whole School Change using Technology is Perhaps Scientific

My final Link Observation Visit planned at this stage of the project was to Simono Dacho School in Klaipeda. This is a “Basic School” providing education for approx. 1000 students...

Student feedback and whole school change using techology is far more than mouse mischief and games.

Varpelis translates as “bell” and here was the first school visit in Kaunas Varpelis Primary School, Lithuania.   It is the shape of a capital H with two floors, but the...

Small Schools can do IT with Open Learning and Personalisation

VS Gutenberg an der Raabklamm has just 66 students, but with two floors and a bright and spacious building, it doesn’t feel small. With just 14-18 students per class, and only 5 teachers...

Decision, Precision and Transparency across the School for Systemic Change Using ICT

Tourismusschulen, Bad Hofgastein , Salzburg has approximately 320 students aged 14-19 years. Whilst this school is different to many “mainstream” schools, it is a private school,...

Using technology for teaching across the whole school curriculum takes just 45 minutes of team work.

Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí is an all Irish school in Athlone, Ireland. There are approximately 299 students aged 5-12 years from all over Ireland. The school was founded in 1990, but was...

Transforming Curriculum Change with Collaborative Live Links in Mathematics and Italian.

Coláiste Bríde Presentation Secondary school is an all-girls school just 20 minutes by car from Dublin City Centre in Clondalkin.    On entering the school what immediately...

Collaborating more - with less individual devices, and making time for the plenary.

The second visit in Portugal is ESCOLA BÁSICA PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES School. Built in 2010, the school stemmed from the Expo 1998 and is very much part of the changing landscape and growing...

Involving your students and making the most of learning beyond the lesson time.

Eça de Queirós has been identified as the Advanced Secondary School in Portugal for the LSL Project. Set in an area surrounded by high rise apartments and largely lower socio-economic status; this...

Active Learning in Ieper Across the Curriculum is Building Opportunities for Whole School Innovation and Change.

MS Ieper school is ten minutes walk from the main town square of Ieper where the Menin Gate is situated. This is a middle school with approximately 189 students aged 12-14...

Mathematical Movies, Stop-motion and a Countdown to the Finale in Space.

My journey begins with a train from Brussels Central Station to Leuven.  De Klare Bron and De Grasmus is a federation of two schools led by one headteacher, Begga Willems. I begin the...

One Magical Genie, a webquest, seven workstations and an innovation team

My morning begins with a tour of this primary school in Geroskipou . The school day starts at 7.30am and ends at 1:05pm. (The time is two hours ahead of UK, and with a one hour journey to...

Be Original with Technology. Small groups, big tasks.

Palouriotissa Gymnasium School is in Nicosia , Cyprus. Set in an area with predominantly lower socio-economic status, the school is an eclectic mix of buildings that are not all...

Creating digital content; interactive textbooks; analysing spaced learning and flipped classrooms.

  My second visit is over an hour by aeroplane from Bologna to the ‘heel’ of Italy in Brindisi. (the climate is completely different and the sun is shining!)   ITIS...

Libraries, learning spaces and a mobile curriculum.

Istituto Comprensivo di Cadeo is a federation of two schools that are within two towns near Piacenza with a 10-15 minute drive between. In each of the two towns of Pontenure and ...

Collaborating through E-Twinning; Animated Fairy-Tales and the Lego Challenge.

My second visit in Norway is to Skjelnan School , a primary school for approximately 250 students aged 6-13 years. The school day is 8.30am – 12:30pm for the students in lower...

Increasing Creativity Across All Subjects using Technology

I realised that for this observation visit I am probably about as close to the North Pole that I will ever get. The first school that I visit in Norway, is Tromstun , a...

Addressing the innovation culture and learning with tablets.

  Leaving the small village of Ingrandes, we head almost 3 hours across France by car to the second destination, just outside Poitiers . Surrounded by a technical landscape of modern...

Letting technology replace tradition?

My first visit in France is to a small, village school Eppu Ingrandes sur Loire with only 200 students. The leading teacher for this Advanced School is also the exceedingly busy headteacher....

Innovation - Where will you invest next?

Puropelto School has undergone significant transformation over the last five years to improve the learning environment for staff and students. The change in the environment is not visible from...

Take One Finland - Lights, Camera, Action

My first visit in Finland was to Wäinö Aaltonen School on the island of Hirvensalo, near Turku. This is a primary school and provides education for approximately 450 students from 7-13...

Observation visits Observation visits

Link observation visits schedule 2013

  • UK: 12 June and 27 June
  • Czech Republic: 16 September
  • Finland: 23 September
  • France: 30 September
  • Norway: 14 October
  • Italy: 21 October
  • Cyprus: 11 November
  • Belgium: 18 November
  • Portugal: 13 January 2014
  • Ireland: 20 January 2014
  • Austria: 27 January 2014
  • Lithuania: 10 February 2014
Journal: Observation visits Journal: Observation visits
Whole School Change using Technology is Perhaps Scientific

My final Link Observation Visit planned at this stage of the project was to Simono Dacho School in Klaipeda. This is a “Basic School” providing education for approx. 1000 students aged 7-15 years from 1st grade to 8th grade. The school has 86 teachers. The school is 155 years old, it has four floors, but the final floor was added on just eight years ago.   In the latter part of the school, the classrooms are much smaller; some are used for languages and others for student pastoral support. Throughout the school, there are a range of technologies; there are 21 IWB in various classrooms.  There are two computer labs in school and these are used for a range of subjects. 

In the hall this morning, there is a full stage with students rehearsing for their pantomime show which will be staged at lunchtime to a real audience! Not far from the main hall is a “little theatre room” that is used for rehearsals. Equipped with full sound and lighting, both rooms are part of the school’s commitment to showcase theatre education.
My morning begins on the third floor with physics teacher and LSL lead Virginija Birenienė. The lesson begins with the teacher clapping a couple of fast rhythms and the students repeating them back. The room is full of energy and students all ready to present their work on the topic of water as part of the Physics curriculum and they have had just two lessons to prepare their presentations in small groups. It gives the teacher the opportunity to observe how the students work with their peers and also for the students to learn from each other.
The students have created their presentations using Keynote  on an ipad. Each student has access to an individual iPad for the lesson time, but these do not go home.  (At the end of each lesson, the students put their iPad into a black plastic box and the teacher takes them to a secure room to be charged in a purpose built cabinet - the school has 31 iPads altogether.)
  • What opportunities do you give for peer assessment in your lessons?
  • How do you use technology for peer assessment?
  • What technologies do your students use for presentations?
  • How do share your student presentations? 
The main lesson observation is an English lesson with Gintarius Petkus an LSL lead teacher. Gintarius is working with the fifth grade students looking at how to present stories. There are only 11 students in the class. The teacher asks the students 5 facts about Leonardo da Vinci to warm up their use of spoken English as the starter activity. 
The students have had to prepare a mini presentation, but the rule is they must have some questions ready to ask their audience about the presentation. The aim of this is two-fold, it gives the students the opportunity to think about the kinds of questions the audience would be able to ask; but it also ensures that the audience is listening so that they can answer the questions if they are asked.
  • How do you encourage student participation in your lessons?
  • How do you encourage students to interact with their peers during the lesson?
The first student has chosen to present on the winter Olympics.
She begins with asking “Where is the winter Olympics being held?”
In advance of the presentation, the teacher has also guided the students to identify five new words that they are going to introduce the other students to. These should have been written in large writing on white A4 paper so that they can be held up for the class to see, but also placed on the visualiser so that they are projected to everyone. The key words from the first student are: “suggest; mascot; speechless, routine and athletes.”
At the end of the presentation, the student asks: “What are the mascots of the Olympics? How many nations qualified for the Olympics?”
In the second part of the lesson, the teacher asks the students to take an iPad from the box at the front of the classroom, the teacher asks the students to go to dictionary.com . The teacher demonstrates to the students how to change the language in the General settings. He also shows the students how to ensure that SIRI is turned on. Finally, the students have to make sure the language is set to English. The teacher asks the students to search the word “qualify”. Students have to press the pronunciation and practise how to say it for 3 seconds. The students do the same for the word “routine”. 
One of the most significant points within this lesson is the role of the teacher. Whilst at first it seems the teacher is focussed on listening to the presentations; it soon becomes apparent that the teacher uses the individual access to technology to increase the learning opportunities for the students. For example; after each presentation, the teacher asks the students to search for further information or how to define new words. This helps to maintain the pace of the lesson and the spontaneity adds to the challenge for the students as sometimes the teacher identifies particular students to do a task. When the second student presents about his “brother’s turtle”, it is not long before some students are challenged to find the correct pronunciation of “crustacean.”
  • How does technology allow the teacher to be spontaneous within lessons?
  • What is the teacher’s role when the students are making presentations?
  •  Do you give your students criteria for presentations?
  • How can you use technology to increase learning opportunities?
Across this school there is an expectation that students and teachers will use technology across all subjects. There is a commitment from the management of the school to technological change and the LSL teachers are experimental with pedagogical change. 
  • Do you recognise your school within the descriptions of the advanced schools?
  • How can you align your technological change in school with the required pedagogical changes?
  • Has your school joined the Living Schools Lab network?
  • What can you share within your Regional Hub?
  • When did you make time to observe how other teachers in your school use technology?

Having now visited schools in all twelve countries involved in the first wave of the Living Schools Lab project, it is clear to see that LSL “Advanced” schools are at different stages, but there are common features. There is certainly much to be learnt from observing the practice in real classrooms and I am extremely grateful to all of the LSL teachers who have opened their doors to the world. Developing practice in the use of technology is ongoing. It demands time, money and considerable effort, but if it leads to worthwhile change within learning and teaching, this needs to be mainstreamed.

For now, I leave Klaipeda in Lithuania and head for home, back to the University of Wolverhampton, UK.  (I’ve yet to calculate the total number of kilometres travelled – but it’s quite a few!)
Next Stop: LSL Summer School  - Dublin!
Student feedback and whole school change using techology is far more than mouse mischief and games.

Varpelis translates as “bell” and here was the first school visit in Kaunas Varpelis Primary School, Lithuania.   It is the shape of a capital H with two floors, but the connecting corridor is only along the bottom floor. There are approximately 393 students across the school. The school day starts at 8.30am until 1.15pm. All the classrooms have at least one PC and projector, but there are some classrooms with interactive whiteboards.

Upstairs are large rooms that most primary school teachers would probably only be able to dream about the amount of room. At present, there is a main teaching room for each teacher and at the back there is a door connecting to another room. (There is lots of space to learn!) Each teacher has personalised his/her own space and the “free space” is currently used for a variety of activities including art, music and other group work. I can feel my eyes widen as I am excited by the size of the space and the possibilities; with or without technology. In one of the free spaces, the teachers have collated a number of historical items. It is a little museum of Lithuania. These are spaces that the school could develop further and it will be interesting to know how technology impacts upon these spaces over the next five years. 
  • Do you have a small classroom?
  • How have you changed the learning spaces around your school to embrace new technologies?
  •   What would you do to a particular space if you had the opportunity? Have you shared your ideas and tried to make them a reality?
  •  How often do you ask the students to redesign learning spaces?
  • Have you got any spaces in your school that could be used differently?
Aurika Jonauskiene is one of the LSL lead teachers who teaches English in the school. She has a bright classroom with displays and some of these have been created by the students.
Today’s first lesson is with Lina Dubosaite who is a lead LSL teacher and also involved in a number of different EU projects. The students are learning about how to draw a plan and an aerial view. Lina has access to a projector and a pull down screen in her classroom. She begins the lesson from the front with the students at their desks.
The teacher gives each student an A5 piece of paper and distributes a box of objects. She asks the students to stand on their chairs (carefully of course) and draw the object from above.
Along one long wall of the classroom is a large cork display board. At one end, this has six pictures of rooms that have been painted by the students. The rest of the wall is blank.
The teacher shows an IWB file on the projector screen and using a magnifying glass she scans over various objects to reveal what the aerial view would look like. The teacher uses Promethean Activboard software, but she does not have access to an interactive whiteboard in her classroom.
The teacher selects some students to go to the front to draw a line between the actual view of the object and the aerial view.
Lina separates the students in to groups of 4-5 students and the children move to work around a small table for each group. 
  • How often do you display students’ learning?
  •  How often do you display the student’s work immediately as part of the lesson to enable the students to ask questions of each other and further their learning?
Some of the LSL schools use digital frames or larger screens to display student work too. This can even include some live streaming.
In this activity, the teams of students have to sort through plan drawings of objects in the envelope and Lina gives the students ten minutes to sort them. Each group has one sheet of A3 paper and one glue stick and the students must then discuss and agree where the various parts of the plan need to go.
Towards the end of the activity, the teacher gives the students just two minutes to make sure that all the pieces that they want to use are stuck down and all the spare pieces are back in the envelope. 
In the next activity, the teacher asks the students to work in pairs with access to a wireless mouse, but using Mouse Mischief all the students can participate to complete the questions projected onto the screen at the front of the class. At the beginning of each activity, the students have to place their mouse on the same starting point. There are a total of 11 mice connected. The students like it when they can spot the symbol for their mouse and are keen to be first to the correct answer. This activity gives the teacher the opportunity to reinforce some of the key points from the group work and addresses the main objectives of the lesson.
The children have to stand with a piece of paper in one hand and a pencil in the other. The teacher says the names of certain objects and the students have to indicate whether they see it on their plan (using the pencil) or whether they see in on their plan already. (using the paper) The teacher goes through the different parts of the plan and the student see whether any particular students have put things in different places.
In the final part of the lesson, the teacher gives each individual student an Optivote clicker. Students have to use the Optivote to select A/B. This voting allowed for the teacher to have some information about the individual student progress. The teacher presents the results to the students. The students who have achieved good results are given a sticker that can be put into their home school diaries so that their parents can see.
At the end of this action packed lesson, the teacher presents the students with three ‘emoticon’ faces and asks them to evaluate how they have found the work. Some of the students share that they liked working with the mouse, whilst others prefer the group work. 
  • How often do you specifically ask your students for feedback during the lesson?
  • What technologies work well when trying to gather student feedback
  •  Do all staff across your school collate feedback in a similar way at the end of the lesson?
  •  How and when do you respond to student feedback?
  • What opportunities are students given to provide feedback on whole school change?

In the second lesson I observe, the students have been using Glogster to create posters about famous Lithuanian people with LSL teacher Ovidija Budnikiene. This lesson takes place in the computer lab where there are 14 PCs around the room and a SMARTboard at the front of the classroom. The teacher has put all the presentations onto the SMARTboard using a series of hyperlinks from within one Notebook file. This is good because the students can access them all easily from one place. It also means that the students can see the completed work as a “publication.” (rather than an exercise in a book!)

  •  How often do you use technology to “publish” the students’ work?
  •  How can you showcase your students’ work to raise the profile of the work of the school?
After the students have looked at a few of the presentations, they go to work at a PC. Some of the students work individually, whilst a few are in pairs. The teacher has created a grid of quiz questions about famous Lithuanian people. There are five sections and for each section, the student must go through five questions on the grid, getting progressively more difficult. As the questions get more complex, the student is awarded more points. (5 = easy 25 =hard)
The teacher rings a bell and asks the students to look at the IWB where she has 10 questions and she will test the group. After this, the students then have to complete crosswords on the PC, the teacher has selected three cross words and the students now have to solve them.   The students are keen to be one of the first to finish the task. These activities are also about famous Lithuanian people. The teacher has some of the lesson materials using Purpose Games. As there are less individual computers than students, the teacher gives some students a paper jigsaw of a famous Lithuanian to build. The teacher ends the lesson by asking for feedback about the different activities. She passes a ball around the class and students must give one sentence feedback about the lesson.  In the next lesson, the students are going to create their own game about the European Union for other students. The homework is to collect materials on the European Union. Now the students know the website, I suspect that some of them will be trying this out at home first!
  • What programs or web-based applications do you use for the students to create their own games?
  • Have you asked your older students to create a game for the younger students?
  •  How often do you use a technology based activity as part of the student’s homework?
Across the wider school, the teachers have been collecting examples of good resources for all staff to share via a section of the website. The school has also done a significant amount of work to support Gifted and Talented students. Teachers within the school also use Class Dojo to help record and monitor the student behaviour in the class. The key to success across this school is encouraging staff to share best practice and to continue to find ways to engage in using technology across the curriculum. There is an increased professional dialogue about learning and teaching, and above all a focus on student feedback. As always, it is not just getting the student feedback, but making it a priority to respond to it and the work of the teachers shows that has now become part of the mainstream practice for this school.
So, I leave Kaunas Varpelis Primary School and head south to Klaipeda - it is at least 3 ½ hours by car. But as I am two hours ahead of my usual time zone, maybe the journey will seem half as long?
Small Schools can do IT with Open Learning and Personalisation

VS Gutenberg an der Raabklamm has just 66 students, but with two floors and a bright and spacious building, it doesn’t feel small. With just 14-18 students per class, and only 5 teachers (including the headteacher), this school has had a specific focus developing the use of interactive technologies and on personalising the learning content for the individual students.

A tour of the school with Manfred Fleck, the headteacher and LSL lead, shows a large library that opens to the students from 7am in the morning so that parents can drop their children off early before going to work before the official school day starts at 7.45am. It is also open on Sundays for a couple of hours so that students can visit with their parents. There is a kindergarten downstairs in the school, this is also used as an after school area for the older students when the school day finishes at 12.40pm. Attached to the school is a community room that can be booked for adult learning and social occasions too.
There is no computer lab at this school and this is because the headteacher has equipped each classroom with 6-8 PCs instead.
  • Could you move technologies in your school to ensure that everyone has “distributed access” on a regular basis rather than access through a restricted timetable?
Across the school, there has been a move to introduce “open learning” days twice a week. This means that on Monday morning the student is given a plan for the week ahead. Whilst the week will begin with more traditional and instructional learning, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the student has a number of tasks that he/she must complete within the time given, but each student can work at their own pace. The students are encouraged to complete a task before moving on to the next task.
Today’s first lesson is with the six and seven year old first graders. The students are learning the letter b. The teacher shows the students lots of images on the IWB that might begin with b. The teacher selects different students and invites them to the IWB to find the right word based on her clues. In the main part of the lesson, the students have to work through four main activities:
1) plasticine making the letter b
2) using a peg board to make a capital b and a lower case b
3) individual activities about the letter b at the PC e.g. word games
4) words beginning with b on the interactive whiteboard.
Sometimes there are parts on the plan that everyone has to do the same, whilst other activities are more individualised to each student. 
In 2nd grade the 7 and 8 year olds have a sheet of A4 with 22 activities to complete over the next two days. At first glance, I am amazed that any teacher has time to plan 22 activities for two days, but closer analysis shows that the teacher plans larger tasks that will take longer, and a series of smaller tasks. (It still seems a lot!) The teacher explains that at the beginning of the year, some of the younger students are keen to choose more computer based activities, but they soon realise that they still have to do the written work.   
During the lesson, the teacher is able to move around and give individual support. If students finish a task they must show the teacher their completed work before moving on to the next task. The students then have to colour in square on the planning sheet. (The aim is to have a completed chart by the end of the two days of open learning.) 
  • How do you keep a record of what the students have completed?
  • Do your students keep their own record of their learning activities?
  • How often do you inform the parents about how the students are completing their work?
After they have completed each one, the student must colour in the square on the plan. It certainly feels like this is something that would benefit from being digital, and it would be relatively easy to do this. Of course, there are layers of complexity that could be added, but the notion of even very young children being able to build a “portfolio” that is connected to teacher assessment data is possible.
I am keen to question the teacher about how long it takes to prepare for the activities over the course of the two days. 
  •  How long does it take you to plan for the whole week?
  •  Do you prepare individual lessons or a number of activities with learning outcomes?
  • How often do you plan to use the technology?
The advantage is that the teacher has a smaller class and so she can spend more time getting to know what the individual can do. The planning sheet also includes the weekly homework tasks, and each student has a USB stick with the content on their stick.
  • Do your students have an e-portfolio?
  •  How is the e-portfolio connected to the student’s assessment data?
At a very basic level, how do you record what the students have been doing on the computer or using technology? This is particularly important when there may be no evidence of outputs within the lesson. 
This classroom is laid out in a horseshoe shape with each student having their own seat. However, at the back of the room are 6-8 PCs for individual students to access. There is also a sofa area and the classroom portrays a homely atmosphere. It is snowing outside, and whilst a few students wear indoor slip on shoes, the majority are just in socks. It really feels like the students can decide on their own learning pathway, choosing what to learn, how to do it, and to move between the different zones of the classroom like rooms in the home.
I also get the opportunity to spend some time with the 4th Grade students who have 6 activities to complete within the next two hours. Sachunterricht is a combination of several subjects together, including Science, Geography, History and Social Sciences.  Today’s topic is the human body. Some of the students are working at the SMARTboard doing a closed procedure drag and drop exercise on how blood travels around the body. Some students are working on www.kidsnet.at  where there are web based activities for many Sachunterricht themes. Others are doing a piece of writing about the skeleton. There are also four iPads available for students to move the different parts of the skeleton into the correct position.
It would seem the older the students get, the choice of activities becomes less but perhaps with the expectation that the students will spend longer on each task. There is still a clear blend of paper based and technology related activities. In each classroom the students seem to organise themselves easily and are content to participate in different tasks.
This school has been implementing the use of the technology steadily over the past ten years. However, there has been a deliberate decision to integrate the use of different technologies but this has happened alongside a changed approach to the curriculum. The whole staff have been involved in the decisions about open learning, and whilst this may seem easier because there is a small team, it also means that each teacher has had to upskill in the use of technologies to ensure continuity and progression across the school. However, the resources are organised on the intranet and staff can access shared materials.
So, this school has showed the art of the possible for small schools and leaves me thinking about what learning could be like here if all the students had access to their own device all day. I’m sure it won’t be long until the open learning plan is digital for every student.
P.S. My journey from Bad Hofgastein to Graz was 3 ½ hours by train with just one quick change. The funny thing was, from the beginning I felt like I was interrupting  a “Where’s Wally?” scene. Today is the slalom race at Schladming and whilst most of the passengers are in striped woolly hats with pom-poms, I am definitely the odd one out working on my laptop wearing a suit!
Next Stop: Lithuania – the final leg of the journey!
Decision, Precision and Transparency across the School for Systemic Change Using ICT

Tourismusschulen, Bad Hofgastein, Salzburg has approximately 320 students aged 14-19 years. Whilst this school is different to many “mainstream” schools, it is a private school, but it must be emphasised that the teachers are employed by the Ministry of Education. The school belongs to the Chamber of Commerce. There are three main courses that the students can choose at the school including, Skiing, Tourism and Hospitality Management. However, the students also study other aspects of the curriculum too.

A tour of the school shows large, bright classrooms with standardised equipment and other specialist areas. Most classrooms are equipped with an interactive whiteboard and a dry wipe board at the side. (Though there are different types of IWB in school.) In the training kitchen, the students are cooking leek and potato soup. There is also a hospitality training restaurant where the students can practice their new ‘silver service’ skills on school guests. (This is one school dinner I am looking forward to!)
At the side of the school just 2 or 3 minutes walk up the path is The Grand Park 5* hotel, this is integrated into the planning for the school and provides the base for the student training. Essentially, this means that the students do their training in a real life hotel. It is encouraging to think that the students are immersed into dealing with real customers. The students undertake training in restaurant service, kitchen food preparation, bar service and the hotel reception. 
  • Do you work with a local business?
  • Do any of your courses give the students the opportunity to work in a real work setting?
  • What other ways can you work with a business in school?
  • Have you shared the use of technology with a local business?
This also makes me wonder just how often other schools engage directly with business.  On a personal level, I always feel this is something that could be explored much further by schools and it would be good to hear of any successful examples. @DianaBannister or  #lsl_eu
For some students, the school day at begins at 5.45am. This is because it can take up to one hour to drive to the destination for the lesson – the mountains. Thankfully today skiing is not on my timetable, but it soon becomes clear how technology is helping to ensure that students and staff are able to access their learning both on site and off site. This can be particularly important as the students may be in various locations throughout the winter. Each teacher can create their own customised view on the school learning platform. The materials for the courses can also be assigned to individual students at different levels. The coaches are also able to update information live and students welcome the immediacy of this information. The school also uses Sprongo, this is a video platform that allows students to analyse their performance.
The school introduced the use of lms.at  two years ago, and it has been a continuous process to integrate the system into the everyday working life of the school. It would seem that the role of the principal headteacher has been instrumental in ensuring that all staff are fully trained and realise the potential of the technology.  The learning platform has been developed by Austria and some of the regions have made it free for their schools to access.
  • Do you have a virtual learning environment in your school?
  •  How many of the teachers use the VLE?
  •  How can you improve the use of your VLE?
  •  How do you encourage the parents to access the VLE?
The decision for the whole school to adopt the learning environment appears to have begun to develop some system wide transparency. The electronic register is directly linked to the calendar and this means that it is easier to know whether students are in school or out on location. The teachers feel that communication across the school has improved because it means that the teachers can contact the students more readily. It also means that teachers can communicate quicker about student progress. In the hotel, the mentor for the students can also access the student profile and add feedback about the training. This school has focussed on each teacher providing the students with access to materials. However, at present these are still created by teachers individually. One of the next stages will be to see whether the teachers collaborate to produce digital content. 
Today’s lesson with lead LSL teacher Silvia Listberger is about the success factors of a tourist destination. It begins with a presentation from one of the students who has prepared a PowerPoint presentation about Lech as a tourist destination. He is keen to involve his classmates and the audience. At the end of each section, he has put a slide called “Who’s First?”  
He asks the students to find the answer from their own device and then put up their hand.
In the classroom, many of the students have their own personal device; this includes everything from mobile smartphones, tablets, iPads to netbooks, laptops and Macs. 
The students like being able to “race” to find the information. The student has missed the opportunity to use the technology to collate the data. 
On the dry wipe board, the teacher asks the students to do a SWOT analysis of LECH as a tourist destination. One of the students then takes a photo of the drawing to be placed on the VLE for all students to access. 
The teacher then asks the students to identify the success factors for Lech as a tourist destination. The students consider the different seasons and the types of offers available for various potential clients. The students readily search the internet using their own device. The students are also able to find supporting information.
 Two students collate the main points from each of the groups and then put it together into a whole class Prezi. The students also show a video from YouTube about Lech.
  • If you work in a business and read this, I have seen some good examples of equipment being refurbished and reused by schools – this may be one way in which you can help your school?
  • Are there opportunities for businesses to support the sponsorship of equipment in schools further?
Finally, I must mention that lunch was prepared and served by the 3rd grade students on the day of the Link Observation Visit and by the 2nd grade on the day of the National Focus Group. This gave me a chance to see for myself how the students’ hospitality skills are nurtured. The students worked incredibly hard and the whole experience was delivered with perfection. I loved the Sweet Frog drink!
Next Stop: Graz 3.5 hours by train from Bad Hofgastein.
Using technology for teaching across the whole school curriculum takes just 45 minutes of team work.

Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí is an all Irish school in Athlone, Ireland. There are approximately 299 students aged 5-12 years from all over Ireland. The school was founded in 1990, but was rebuilt in 2008 and the number of classes has been growing year upon year. At the time of the new build the school was given an ICT grant and this is pivotal to the use of technology across the school.

My morning begins by meeting the “ICT committee” – it all sounds impressive, and it is – because at the heart of this group of people is a teacher from each year group who meet for 45 minutes every two weeks to take a practical look at the use of technology across the school.  Gearóid O’Duibhir who is the lead LSL teacher has developed the work of this group as part of the Living Schools Lab project. There are three parts to the 45 minute meeting, Feedback, Planning and Training – each one lasts just 15 minutes.  (FPT45)  The ICT committee has been instrumental to some of the innovative changes that are taking place in the school. It is about having a focused time to look at teaching and learning using technology. This is far better than snatching 5 minutes at the end of a busy staff meeting to try and get colleagues interested in the latest trend; by having a consistent group across the school who are investigating innovative ideas; it gives much more coherence to whole school developments. Gearóid describes how the “filtering” of the information and the distribution of the tasks for the investigations means that staff are constantly inquiring about how to develop their practice and improving the use of technology across many subjects.
  • Do you have a group of teachers who work together to look at the use of technology within learning and teaching?
  •  How do you document the “professional dialogue” in school so that other teachers can access the information? (Some of our LSL schools keep a blog, a wiki or even just a noticeboard of teaching topics under discussion across the school. – Let your colleagues know what you are learning about and “bookmark” your progress!)
  •  What are your staff investigating? How is this shared across the whole school?
The first lesson I observe is with Carolyn Ni Mháille and her class of 23, 6th grade students (age 12 years) doing factual writing in English. The teacher begins with a whole class discussion about what has been happening in the news in the last week. The teacher captures this in a brainstorm on the dry-wipe board and helps the students to organise their ideas. Lots of the students contribute and soon there is a map of the main headlines for human interest; governmental issues, crime, entertainment and sport. (the football transfer window is critical dialogue!)
The teacher then shows the students a video clip of the News 2day; a local TV news programme. The teacher has divided the class into groups to work on a different section of the news. The students then have 8 minutes to write a short script on their item of news. Eight minutes is not long, but it is a clear signal to the students to get their ideas down on paper and that there is no need for a long story, it is just the headlines that matter!
  •  How often do you give your students a timed activity?
  • Do your students know how long the task should take?
Each group of 4-6 students then uses a “Fizzbook”, this is a notebook sized PC with a web-cam. The students have 15-20  minutes make a short clip of their section of news. This gives some much needed time to rehearse. The students concentrate on the tone of their voice, their body language and making their message clear. (But when your friend is looking at you, it is hard not to giggle!) The students work together to improve their performance.
In the final part of the lesson, the students get the opportunity to listen to each other’s news item; – I think we have some budding news presenters here in Ireland. 
  •  Have you got a student news team in your school?
  • Do your students present the school news each week?
  • Whilst most schools have a newsletter; have you thought about providing your own digital news channel?
In the next lesson, I am with Aisling Ni Chongaile with fourth class and the ten year old students. Here the students are being introduced to their new spellings for the week. The teacher gives the students a Promethean Flipchart with the words and definitions in two columns. The students then have to match the words to the correct definition. The teacher passes a gyromouse around the class and soon the students have found the solution.   
In the second part of the lesson, the teacher shows a piece of text using the visualiser and several students are selected to read the text aloud. The students also have their own copy of the text in front of them, but the visual display allows the teacher to help everyone to follow. The teacher can highlight words and build the students’ understanding of the text. Today the students are finding out about the “Sasquatch” and the “Lochness Monster.” (thankfully, I’ve never met either on my travels!)
The teacher then passes around a wireless keyboard and asks some students to put one of the spellings from this week into a sentence. In the final part of the lesson, the students have to take five of the new words and write them into their own exercise books. The next step will be to write a story together and record it using audacity.
Each classroom in school is equipped with the same technologies; this means that all the teachers can share their practice consistently. The Fizzbooks are delivered to the classroom at the beginning of each day by several student monitors. Originally staff used to book them out, but this meant that it was difficult for teachers to be certain about how many Fizzbooks they would have access to. There is a “station” in the classroom where the students can work individually, but distributing the resources has encouraged the teachers to use them creatively with groups.
  • How do you distribute your technology in school?
Finally in this school, I have the opportunity to talk to a small group of students about some of their favourite technologies. The students like to use audacity for recording themselves reading and they have enjoyed working with photostory too. There is also a real buzz about Mangahigh. (maths games online)
This is now the tenth country that I have visited as part of the Living Schools Lab project and one of the questions that I have found myself asking (particularly in Primary Schools) is:
  • Would the PCs from your computer lab be used more if they were in the classrooms?
There is certainly a real shift towards using the technology within many areas of the curriculum.
I’ll leave you with that thought as I head towards Austria where the temperature is several degrees colder than Ireland and I might need to get my skis out!
Transforming Curriculum Change with Collaborative Live Links in Mathematics and Italian.

Coláiste Bríde Presentation Secondary school is an all-girls school just 20 minutes by car from Dublin City Centre in Clondalkin.   On entering the school what immediately strikes me are the high quality signs and displays of motivating messages about learning for the 960 students.   In the main entrance clearly on display for all to see is the school focus for 2012 – 2015. It soon becomes apparent that this level of outward facing knowledge is clearly conveyed for staff, students, parents and the community of the school, but equally it enables me as a visitor to quickly get a sense of what the school is trying to achieve.

  • What’s your school focus for the next 3 years?
  •  How do you communicate this to everyone?
However, it is also important that this is more than just a statement, and having the opportunity to spend the day here with Sarah-Jayne Carey who is the lead LSL teacher, enables me to understand the “can-do” culture of the teachers and students exploring how ICT can transform learning in the classroom. 
  • How will your learning spaces change?
  • What can your students and staff expect as standard?
My first lesson is with Maria Broderick; the students are working on transformations in mathematics and today is about quadratic functions. In the classroom are 16 students, but on Maria’s desk are two screens, one of which has the lesson content and the other shows two more students who are actually working in a classroom in Warren Mount school which is in town. (Though this could of course be anywhere in the world.) Maria has used Microsoft Lync to connect with the students and her classroom is equipped with a “Follow Me” Camera to enable Maria to move around the classroom as normal. (She soon knows what every student is doing and has high awareness of the individual students.) Maria also wears a microphone and this enables the two students to hear everything that is being said. The connection means that what is displayed on the one screen becomes visible on the other. These two students are being taught remotely to prepare for the higher paper in mathematics; it means that they can participate in the lesson remotely, but they can also interact with Maria and potentially the other students.
  •  Do you have “subject specialists” in your school that could “connect” classrooms?
  • What are the most effective ways to connect two classrooms?
  • Can you share expertise with another school on a regular basis?
At the beginning of the lesson, Maria highlights examples that the students have already submitted on Edmodo. (This is now used as the platform across the whole school to allow continuous communication between teachers and students - it also means that parents can see what the student is learning!)
The pace of the lesson is fast, and this teacher is connected with not just what the students need to learn, but how they can learn it too. She draws on a range of resources and strategies that will enable the students to build their independent learning skills. 
The students use “show-me” dry-wipe boards to demonstrate their responses to the teacher’s “what would happen if?” questions. The teacher also gives them time to work it out too. This is crucial; it shows the students that taking time to work something out can be just as important as having the correct answers. The teacher has prepared some PowerPoint files with examples and in addition to this, she models strategies on the Promethean interactive whiteboard how the students should calculate the equation. The teacher also uses Geogebra where the software will draw the graph. The teacher is able to move between the different software and each time shows how to do it, but also encourages one of the students to be able to complete another example. At the end of the lesson, the teacher shows a “Summary Slide” and this captures what the students should understand, it also recaps the homework that was given out at the beginning of the lesson. It is a really useful reminder of the key learning points.
  • At the end of your lesson, what evidence do the students have to demonstrate their learning?
  • How do the students demonstrate their understanding within the lesson?
  • Have you tried using technology to capture the student examples? E.g. ask the students to create a short revision video. Try Educreations which allows you to video your writing or drawing.
  • What subject specialist software is available in your school? Can students access this at home too?
  • How do the students access the homework task? How do the students submit their work?
The second lesson is with Salvo Cacciato who teaches Italian and French. Salvo is working with a group of students who are in their second year and whilst the oral exam in the third year is not compulsory, this school do it. This involves the students preparing six role plays and Salvo has now embedded the preparation for these as part of the curriculum. He has established a link with a school in Bassano Del Grappa Italy (between Venice and Verona) and working with the teacher there, they use Skype to enable the two classes to talk to each other. However, this is not just a little simple hello and a wave – but demonstrates how technology has led to long-term curriculum change. In preparation for the role play, Salvo’s students have been using Padlet to collate materials to help each other learn the new language. Over a number of weeks, the students have introduced each other to new vocabulary and sentence structure, eventually leading to a dialogue. By collating their ideas collaboratively in Padlet, the “wall” becomes a student generated reference point of words, MS Powerpoints, Prezi, and videos. This will culminate in the students actually having the opportunity to visit each other as part of a Comenius programme; the first travel exchange will take place in March 2014. 
  • Have you got a link with a school in another country? E-Twinning is always a very good place to start.
In today’s lesson the Irish students have to role-play what happens when they go to the shop to buy a new blue jumper using only Italian language; whilst the Italian students do their role-play in English. The teachers at in both countries play the role of the shop-keeper. Each time the teachers change their responses slightly according to the students they are talking to. (E.g. speaking slightly faster to more able students, or asking them an additional question) The students also have to ask for more information too, and initiate the next part of the conversation – this is easier said than done! Using Skype enables the students to rehearse with a real audience and learn with their peers. When they go to Italy, Salvo will take his students to a real shop so they have the opportunity to act out their role play for real! They will then capture this on camera so that the students can add the finished piece to their Padlet portfolio. (Imagine having to go into the shop, try on a jumper and then ask for a different size and then having to find out how much you need to pay in a different language – sometimes it can even be a challenge in your home language, but these students are enthusiastic to give it a go - LIVE!.) 
Both of these lessons offer a use of technology that could be replicated and extended in many ways. Enabling students to access particular expertise; connecting to another classroom in real time demonstrate the art of the possible, but also gives a real purpose for making use of the technologies that surround us. 
At present the secondary teachers in Ireland are also implementing the new Junior Cycle to build   “a curriculum of subjects, shorts courses and other learning experiences”(see Junior Cycle website for more information and you cannot fail to notice how ICT is anticipated as one of the key skills across all the different elements - don't be confused, it is targeted at post-primary "Secondary" students - but it is called the Junior Cycle.) http://bit.ly/1anVe7C 
I also think this level of expectation and guidance at a National level helps to demonstrate how the use of technology will impinge upon whole school curriculum change. It is no longer just for the “techies”; this school is showing how all teachers can make a difference to the way in which students learn using technology for effective collaboration.
 
Next Stop: Athlone - just 1.5 hours away by train from Hueston station.
 
Collaborating more - with less individual devices, and making time for the plenary.

The second visit in Portugal is ESCOLA BÁSICA PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES School. Built in 2010, the school stemmed from the Expo 1998 and is very much part of the changing landscape and growing population of new families in the area. However, it was originally intended that the school would cater for students up to the age of 14, but at the moment the second part of the planned new build has not even been started due to lack of funding. Fortunately, this does not affect the students as the building that has been finished so far is just for students up to the age of 11.

Sandra de Silva joined the LSL project in September 2013 and she is clearly focussed on how to demonstrate effective use of technology in her classroom. The students of her class are 9-10 year olds. Each student has their own Magellan computer. Although they potentially have access to this 24/7, currently they only bring it to school 2 days a week for 90 minutes literacy and 90 minutes ICT. It is intriguing that some countries are desperate for students to get their hands on an individual device yet in this class the students have them but still only use them at certain times. (But after today’s lesson, I think that might change!)

Today is literacy and the students are learning about the author José Eduardo Agualusa. The teacher has emailed each student a worksheet with tasks about the book “The Giraffe who ate all the Stars.”  The teacher asks the students to access a website of e-books. This is a national platform in Portugal that makes ebooks freely accessible. The students work as a whole class and take it turns to read aloud sections of the book. The teacher helps the students to identify particular elements of the story. 
  • Do your students have their own email address?
  • What e-books are available in your school?
  • Can you recommend any good links for e-books? #lsl_eu
At the moment, each of these tasks is still led by the teacher and this demonstrates how the teacher has begun to use the technology to replace some of the tasks that the students would once have done using books and paper. However, the next stage is to consider how the tasks would be organised in order to transform the student learning. In this lesson, the students complete the same task at the same time. The students also do some research about the giraffes.  In the visits to the first six countries, this was identified as one of the biggest issues for schools using 1:1 technologies. It is important to consider how you can provide activities which enable the students to demonstrate their individual knowledge and creativity. (It’s not easy when you have a class of 25+)
The students enjoy the opportunity to read the eBook and access the internet and search information, but it also becomes apparent that the students would benefit from having the opportunity to collaborate too. Although the students have their own device, it would have been good to see how the students shared access to the technology to allow more opportunities for paired discussion. 
  • What would happen if the students worked in small groups and did investigations or different tasks in rotating groups?
  • Do the students need an individual device or should we make more time for dialogue in the classroom by encouraging them to share resources?
  • If students have their own device – do we expect them to use it in every lesson?
  • Should devices be allowed to go home?
The teacher takes time at the end of the lesson to bring the students back together to ask them what they thought of the lesson. The students have enjoyed working with the computer and like being able to use the internet. The plenary of the lesson is extremely important and I think it can be a real chance to do a small task to enable the students to reflect on their learning. 
  • What do you do in the plenary of your lesson? #lsl_eu
  • How can you use technology in the plenary?
  • How can the students lead the plenary activity?
During the walk around this school, I get the opportunity to see the students out at playtime. There is an area that is covered over to enable the students to shelter during playtimes. There is also a garden where the students plant vegetables and flowers.
Although this is a brand new school, it is not dripping with state of the art technologies. However, one of the key points is that the school aims to get consistent use of the resources. The teachers are trying to consider opportunities of how technology can be used across the curriculum to make a difference to student learning. Having access to the internet in the classrooms is crucial and enables the students to connect different areas of learning.
So, as I leave Portugal, I can see the benefits of encouraging schools across the sector to be led by a joint management board. 
  • Do you collaborate with other local schools in your area?
  • Have you thought about working with other schools on a joint project? (Do contact us – we are looking for teachers who would like to collaborate!)
Joint staffing, resources and opportunities for professional development provide just a few reasons why it might be worth looking for the chance to collaborate with some of your neighbours even informally in the first instance.
P.S. Finally, I must mention that I got asked a great question by one of the younger students in this school. “If you are visiting so many countries, how do you know what language to speak when you wake up in the morning?” What a thoughtful question! (Unfortunately, I couldn’t respond in Portuguese – only English, but it is a welcome reminder to give your students to the chance to ask questions because they can surprise you with what they are thinking!)
If you want to read further about other 1:1 projects try here.
 
 
Involving your students and making the most of learning beyond the lesson time.

Eça de Queirós has been identified as the Advanced Secondary School in Portugal for the LSL Project. Set in an area surrounded by high rise apartments and largely lower
socio-economic status; this school is a haven for the 1047 students and local community it serves. We begin with a tour of the school and meet one of the teachers who gives me an olive branch as a welcome to the school – the school is set in an area called “Olivais” and there are some olive trees nearby. Students enter/exit the school using a card GIAE online. This is particularly useful as the campus is open for long hours of the day and for adult learning. Students can also register their attendance in the lesson too.  Whilst most of the school is contained within one large building, the gym is in a separate building at the side. Inside the main building, the school also has a shop where students can buy all their stationery and necessities for their projects. 

Eҫa de Queirós  was a famous writer and along with a huge portrait of the author, the corridors are also elegantly marked with the names of his works. I do find it fascinating to learn how the name of the school runs deep within the philosophy, expectation and approach. It is a great reminder of how we can inspire the students with the displays too. This school has student artwork on fairly large canvases; the displays are finished pieces of high quality and show a distinct pride. 
This school also has a very active TV channel (Eҫa TV) that is coordinated by a member of staff and approximately 8-10 student volunteers. The students regularly try to capture learning and teaching or interview visitors to the school. I think it would be great to see some of our LSL schools working with others on a European or even international broadcast.
The link observation visit to Portugal is particularly significant because both Advanced schools are directed by a single principal, the schools work as part of a cluster of 3 schools that all have the same board of directors to provide for approximately 2000 students in total. The schools have an established team that collaborate on the curriculum and technology is integral to these developments continually supporting whole school development. It also demands a lot of technical support and I can’t fail to notice how most of this rests on one person’s shoulders.
  • Who is responsible for the technical support in your school?
  • How do you provide this?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of managed services?
  • Are there any alternative solutions for technical support? #lsl_eu
The first lesson today is Psychology; here the 12th grade students are learning about mental processes. The teacher begins by opening his Facebook page; finding the “Group” and highlighting the tasks that the students have been asked to do in preparation for the lesson.   The teacher asks one of the students to come to the front and write the key mental processes that they have been learning about: Concentration, Attention, Perception, Recall, Intelligence and Memory. The teacher then considers with the students how certain events or ideas can become distorted with illusions or hallucinations. The teacher selects some of the students to share their ideas with the whole class that they have already posted on Facebook. 
In the next part of the lesson, the teacher asks one of the students to read aloud a piece of text from a book by Antonio Damasio about conscience, and the class consider the question “What difference does it make when people sleep or when they wake up?” “How is their enthusiasm affected?
The students also learn from the discussion with the teacher that we behave in certain ways because of the things that have happened to us. The teacher skilfully encourages the further reading of the text, but equally highlights some online examples in an attempt to satisfy the different learning needs of all the students. He demonstrates to the students how technology is just one of the resources that will help them with their learning, but he also reminds the students that some of the key points are still available in their course textbook. (Without being dependent on it!) One student presents some anamorphic illusions that he has found on Youtube, and there is the moment of realisation as the students understand from the video that our perceptions can be very different. This lesson demonstrates how the technology has become integral to the learning and the students have an expectation that they will need to access the technology during the lesson, but they have a growing independence to access a range of resources. Using Facebook as a tool has also allowed the learning to continue beyond the 90 minutes of time with the teacher and provided extended opportunities for communication and dialogue. It enables the students to continue to interact with their learning around the subject.
The teacher is trying to balance between traditional and innovative settings of learning; Facebook allows the teacher to provide a collegial environment between the classroom environment and personal study. By encouraging the students to share their learning, it stimulates continued discussion and promotes self-study. The teacher believes it helps to “promote self and group regulation.” However, it doesn’t work for all students so the teacher has to have other ways of communicating with the students too.
  • How do you communicate with your students beyond the lesson time?
  • How do you promote opportunities for continuous learning?
  • Have you used Facebook with your students?
  • How do you use Facebook with your students?
  • What are the advantages of using Facebook?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • What similar tools do you use instead/as well?
The second lesson is Mathematics with LSL lead teacher Maria-Teresa Godhino. In today’s lesson, the students are learning about vectors and how to write the components of a vector, as well as the co-ordinates.   The teacher uses the interactive whiteboard to demonstrate to the students how to calculate the numbers.  Maria-Teresa begins by modelling the processes and then asks some students to show the class how to calculate the answers to some of the questions.  The teacher also has an e-book version of the students textbook, this does allow the teacher to play short video clips demonstrating vectors and determining the co-ordinates. However, the teacher is not dependent on this, and equally uses the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and the ActivInspire Software to demonstrate additional examples. She identifies some students to go the IWB and solve some additional challenges. As one student is not sure, the others positively support him and correct him suggesting what the answer should be and why.    The teacher and the students also use Geogebra and this then means that the students have seen vectors in three different pieces of software and they can explore further in their own time to build their understanding. The focus remains on the mathematical learning and not on the use of the software.
  • How often do you ask your students to demonstrate?
  • Have you tried recording small video clips of some of the students demonstrating how to solve mathematical problems? 
The other students will enjoy watching them and may find it more interesting to learn from their peers. It will also give the students a chance to look at different strategies used by people in the same class. As a teacher it can give you the chance to see how your students have worked something out and maybe spot where they need a little bit more help too!
  • If you are using a textbook for the lesson – how do you know that your individual students are challenged?
It’s a long day in secondary school for students in Portugal, with some classes not finishing until 6pm. However, if today is anything to go by, it would seem they are so involved with their lessons; they don’t have time to think about it!
Active Learning in Ieper Across the Curriculum is Building Opportunities for Whole School Innovation and Change.

MS Ieper school is ten minutes walk from the main town square of Ieper where the Menin Gate is situated. This is a middle school with approximately 189 students aged 12-14 years, but the campus has large grounds that are shared with a total of 600 students across four main schools with different headteachers. There are also other schools in the nearby vicinity.

My morning begins in the school gym and behind the curtains on a raised platform are a set of 24 exercise bikes. The kit belongs to a local group who allow the school to use them in the daytime and then they use them at night time for the local community. (Unfortunately, I’ve missed the ‘FIT’ class on the bikes this week!) This is a ‘public-private partnership’ and a great opportunity for a local business to make use of the school facilities and share resources.
  • What facilities are open to the public in your school?
  • Can you work with a local business to share equipment and resources?
During the tour of the school, we go to a Mathematics class and the students are doing a multiple choice activity on the SMART interactive whiteboard, but the students indicate their responses using a paper vote A, B, C or D. The teacher takes the visual response to make a quick assessment of the student understanding of the simultaneous equations.
In the computer lab, each of the 20 students has access to a computer facing an interactive whiteboard and they are working on Geogebra. The students like this as they are able to do the tasks independently, but they can follow the teacher step-by step.
In Woodwork, a small group of nine students are going through the design of their next masterpiece and several of them go to the interactive whiteboard to show how to calculate the measurements of three ‘assembled’ equilateral triangles in a block of wood. 
In one further classroom, there are a group of 15-16 year olds from Atheneum school next door which is part of the same campus and the two schools are interconnected. They are studying Accountancy and this week they are working out employment and salary costs. The students have to do the calculations on the iPad using a spreadsheet, but a great idea here is that the solution is behind the QR code displayed in the top left hand corner of the IWB. This means that the students can work at their own pace and check their results. This lesson is delivered by Emely Laheye who is a LSL Advanced Practitioner and now works regularly with Philip and Sabine at MS Ieper and it demonstrates how LSL has encouraged these schools to collaborate further.
  • Do you know what happens at one of the schools near to yours?
  • Have you ever been to observe a teacher and share ideas?
  • How do the students use technology in the younger years and what skills have they already got?
  • Can you share equipment with the school next door? Or even swap classrooms?
Philip Everaerts is one of the lead teachers for LSL at MS Ieper. He has developed a whole new curriculum area in school called Active Learning with ICT. The aim is to enable the students to undertake tasks to increase their ICT skills. In today’s lesson, the students will look at the safety of their own passwords and consider and test what are the key requirements for a good password.  The students use the iPads to access the website and they are soon keen to see how it works.
The teacher begins by giving the students a QR code to scan with an ipad. This allows them to access SMART Extreme Collaboration. The students have to text in examples of what they know about Facebook privacy. (Regardless of their age, it is perhaps not surprising to see just how confident the students are with using social media.) 
In the main part of the lesson, the teacher asks the students to test the safety of their passwords using a website https://identitysafe.norton.com; the students begin to see just how vulnerable their online information and identity can be. The students have to upload their examples to the school VLE (Belgium’s Smartschool). By the end of the lesson, the students understand that they need to create new unknown passwords with a mixture of eight numbers and letters including letters and numbers.    (but, Password1234 is still too obvious!) 
  • How often do you discuss e-safety with your students?
  • Who takes responsibility for e-safety in school?
  • Do you deliver e-safety as a specific lesson or is it integrated into other subjects?
  • How do you keep parents informed?
In the second part of the morning, Sabine Buseyne who is the second LSL teacher in this Advanced school introduces the students to using the SMART Clicker learner response system for the first time in History. Sabine has prepared a single slide to demonstrate to the students how to use the technology, and this helps to focus the students on which buttons they will use in the lesson. In this lesson, the students simply have agree with the statements “True” (WAAR) or “False.” (ONWAAR)
One of the most important factors of the learner response system is the immediate feedback and it is not long before the teacher can look at the results with the students. This helps the teacher to make a quick assessment of the students’ understanding.
The purpose of the lesson is to learn about prehistorical tools and the evolution of stone processing. 
In the main part of the lesson, the teacher divides the class into a carousel of groups using the random name generator. The students work through the activities with just 3 minutes on each task. (It is good to see just what the students can achieve in a very focussed time!)
There are 5 tasks:
1.       Who was Otzi? The students open the app Morfo and listen to the story of Otzi the ice mummy. (This content has been created by older ICT students.)
2.       Situating in Time – Open the app 3D Timeline and analyse the timeline
3.       Learn about the different tools from the Prezi
4.       Evolution of Stone Processing – Open the app “Scan” and scan the QR codes. Put them in the correct order
5.       Testing Skills – Do the short computer based test to show your understanding
  • How do you demonstrate new equipment with your students for the first time?
  • What opportunities do you give older students to create the lesson content for younger students?
  • How many carousel activities work best within your lesson time?
MS Ieper is able to showcase how technology is being used across the school and it is really encouraging to see how they are looking closely across the curriculum to understand which technologies and applications can be embedded in different aspects of learning. Making time to explore the different uses of technologies within learning and teaching is helping to enable whole school change. The school also offers face to face training for others and this offers great potential as a resource for the LSL Regional Hub and maybe some online learning snacks!
P.S. I left Leuven by train and made the journey across Belgium via Brussels to Ieper. (I knew that I needed to get off at the penultimate stop on the train – but it can be incredibly difficult to calculate how long it will take between stops when the train slows down – therein lies another story which I will save for now!)
Mathematical Movies, Stop-motion and a Countdown to the Finale in Space.

My journey begins with a train from Brussels Central Station to Leuven. De Klare Bron and
De Grasmus is a federation of two schools led by one headteacher, Begga Willems.

I begin the morning at De Klare Bron that is situated Heverlee, a leafy suburb of Leuven about 10-15 minutes drive from the train station by car. The school has approximately 240 students aged 2 ½ - 12 years.   There is also a day care nursery on site. The school is well equipped and most classrooms have a digital projector, or interactive whiteboard. There are also 10 iPads in each school.
This morning, I am based with Cindy Persoons, a LSL lead teacher and her class of twenty four 7 and 8 year olds doing Mathematics. Cindy explains that the students will be divided into two groups for today’s lesson, and one half of the students will go to a different room with another teacher  to recap some knowledge covered in a previous lesson about area, volume and capacity. The main purpose of the lesson is for the students to understand that when they are calculating the volume of something, they need to consider what might be behind. i.e. How deep is something and how can we demonstrate that using technology?
The teacher has Apple TV in the classroom and this means that she can enable all of the iPads to display the movies using the interactive projector with no cable using Airplay. The teacher shows the students how the “i-STOP Motion” works. Each of the five groups will create their own stop motion with one iPad per group. 
The teacher has some large boxes of bricks and she gives them to the students who will work in threes. Each student will take a different responsibility for a different task, there is a director, a builder and one who will film the shots. The children build their constructions and create the short clips to show the different layers of bricks. The teacher goes around supporting each group, occasionally stopping the class to demonstrate another point, for example, she shows them how to delete a picture and how to edit their work.
The children work creatively and soon build a construction, and some are able to make progress for their main building to be part of a scene. (What started out as a basic archway, ended as the entrance to a zoo with some animals trying to escape!) 
It is soon time for the groups to swap over and the second group to take undertake the task. The teacher is able to share the examples from the first group and they are soon creating their mathematical movies. However, it is fascinating to see that the second group are almost at a different starting point, because they have been able to see the physical examples that have been made by the first group, as well as the digital clips. They are keen to build a scene, but the teacher revisits a good digital example from the first group to emphasise how they need to focus on showing their mathematical knowledge first.
  • How often do you divide your students for ICT activities?
  • What are the differences for the students who use the technology first and those who complete the paper based activities?
  • In this class, the students took the roles of Director, Film Producer and Builder – what roles have you given your students? #lsl_eu
  • How can you use technology to deliver other mathematical concepts?
  • When you divide your class, how do you feedback to the other teacher you are working alongside?
Lunchtime, and today the vegetable soup has been prepared by the older students in a cookery class and it is very tasty! A ten-minute drive away in the car and we arrive at De Grasmus – here there are 160 students. The school is set just 5-10 minutes from the train station in Leuven in the middle of a residential street out of the town.
Two students present their project on “Space.” They have had three weeks to prepare their project work. Hans Van Gelder is the lead LSL teacher; he has given them ideas and supported them during the lesson time, but on the whole, the students have worked independently. The students have created a presentation that includes some key facts about space and the first person to travel into outer space. The two boys then present a short video of them interviewing some adults to ask what they were doing on the day of the moon landing in 1969. 
The most significant point about this work is that it shows the students are able make their own decisions about when and when not to use the technology. They have used their own initiative to interview family members and some people ‘in the street.’ The students have utilised many resources and during the discussion with the students after the lesson, they have recognised that they still need to take their knowledge from a variety of sources and cannot depend on just accessing the internet. The students have been able to blend together different technologies and concrete materials to create their presentation as something which is very ‘live’ and ‘personal’ rather than just a static retelling of information.
In the final part of their presentation, the students have recorded themselves building a spaceship from Lego and looking what happens in the process of a spaceship taking off.
We all join in with the countdown 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 BLAST OFF! 
Across both these schools are some very good examples of the use of the iPads within the classroom and it will be interesting to see how what the next set of challenges will be across the different age groups and how the students respond with their growing expectation to make full use of the technologies around them.
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