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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,...

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...

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...

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....

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...

Getting Mobile and Making Cartoons for Language Learning.

As we walk up the stairs to the classroom, the first observation is Petra climbing the stairs to her lesson carrying what looks like a large blue reusable supermarket shopping bag. (And it probably...

How Are You Interconnecting Learning Spaces and Technology? A School with a Zoo and Three Kangaroos

A tour of Gymnazium Teplice in the Czech Republic leaves me slightly stunned; there seems to be something different around every corner. I am greeted by two students who are keen to show me...

"Buchty" or Learning Snacks?

  Dr E Beneṧe School is my first visit in the Czech Republic. Set in the suburbs of Prague in an area called Zscakovice, the school has 751 pupils from 6-15 years and is classified as a...

Inspiring design ideas in different learning spaces

  At Broadclyst Academy , one of the other dominant features was the different types of classroom space available and it soon became apparent that over the years, the head teacher and the team...

All smiles for the reception at Broadclyst Community Primary School.

  Broadclyst Community Primary School is a UK primary academy situated 191 miles south from the University of Wolverhampton, and so I made this journey by train. It is set on the main...

Lesson Observation Number One - Collaborative Learning with the Mr Men

In the afternoon at Shireland Collegiate Academy , I joined the leading teacher for the Living Schools Lab Project, Mr Moore and his year nine students for the Literacy for Life lesson. As...

First Stop - Shireland Collegiate Academy, Sandwell, UK

Although I’ve been to Shireland several times before, I think the immediate observation for most visitors must be the celebration of cultures and faiths that exist as one. Shireland...

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
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Inspiring design ideas in different learning spaces


At Broadclyst Academy, one of the other dominant features was the different types of classroom space available and it soon became apparent that over the years, the head teacher and the team have given much consideration to the classrooms to reflect some of the changing use of technologies.
Broadclyst have a huge focus on 1:1 learning, this is not about a device per child, but how the teacher can use the technology to ensure that the individual student can access their learning.
In the earlier year groups, there are approximately 10-12 PCs down one side of the room and during the lesson, there is a group of students who are assigned to work on the PCs. There are also 8 ipads per year group for shared access. There is also the option to be able to open-up the spaces to make larger rooms so that teachers can share the resources and younger students can access more activities.   In year four, the students all have 1:1 access to laptops and again sit in groups for collaborative working. In year five, the students also have access to their own PC at their desk, but these rooms are laid out so that the tables naturally allow for collaborative discussion between the students.
The most noticeable room is for year 6, here all of the 65 students for the year group are together in one area known as “The Lecture Room”. The students all have access to a PC on their desk at one level and also space directly in front to work on paper-based activities or in books. There are two classroom teachers and up to five teaching assistants at any one point. The teachers are all equipped with microphones and audio equipment to enable full use of sound in the room. During the lesson, one of the teachers takes the lead for the delivery. It is also noteworthy that there is no use of interactive whiteboards; the materials are displayed on three large screens at the front of the room. One of the teachers faces forwards and is able to control the technology and annotate on the screen which then appears on the large screen displays. However, the role of the teacher is central to the structure of the lesson. The other teacher moves around the room and is able to ask questions, trigger further discussion and team-teach with her colleague. The students clearly know that the start of the lesson will involve the whole class, but beyond this, the teachers are also able to send the students into groups in several smaller areas to allow more focussed and differentiated learning. 
Today’s lesson is all about Gravity, and it begins with a short video which looks at what would happen if we were in space; “if we had a hammer and a feather, which one will hit the ground first?” The students watch the short video on the large screens and then discuss some of their predictions. The students are then sent into different groups to work on a design task. 
The group of seven that I am with go to a smaller science/technology area in school and are given three ipads to share and asked to look at some designs. The students are then challenged to design a structure that will carry an egg and will support it so that it does not smash. They also consider the following questions:
·         What would be the best shape to carry the egg?
·         How can you prevent the egg from falling?
·         What 3d shape can you make to house your egg?
The use of the tablet within this lesson allows the students to access the design ideas as and when they need to. It also enables each student to recognise significant design points in smaller peer groups. The students intuitively embed this use of technology within their learning and readily take the design ideas that have been given to them to recognise that there are certain design features that are critical to the success of the overall design.
The students then have about 30 minutes to use K’nex to experiment with possible designs. The students are engaged in the task and it becomes apparent that the students benefit enormously from being able to test out their thoughts with concrete materials. The use of technology becomes a stimulus for the lesson and also a reference point; it is seamlessly integrated as part of the learning.
The teacher is able to take photographs of the students’ designs and these can then be instantly shared with the other students back in the main classroom. The teacher is able to capture photos of the students as they are building different designs and this will be helpful to discuss the “process” of how they decided upon the shapes and structures.
This experimentation will then be put to full use as the students are going to be working in groups over the next few weeks to create a prototype with different materials.
The students return to the main lecture room for the plenary of the lesson and are able to share what the different groups have been doing with their peers using the large screens.
Whilst the large group can appear quite overwhelming at first, it is clear to see that the access to additional teaching assistants, further classroom space, the alternative uses of technology and the use of concrete resources all help to ensure that the students get the opportunity for their whole class learning to be individually challenged just a little bit more. 
Going forward, it will be worth taking a look at how Broadclyst uses their understanding of technology to inform the design of spaces within the new building.