Be Original with Technology. Small groups, big tasks.

21 November 2013 11:42

__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 interconnected. Built in the late 1950’s, there is a main building with administration and a number of classrooms including a computer lab, but there is also a number of smaller single storey buildings housing two or three classrooms. During the week, the school operates a timetable of ‘labs’ where the students are divided into smaller groups. This is for subjects such as Home Economics, Design and Technology, Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Josephine Pavlou is the lead teacher for LSL and a Home Economics teacher. In this morning’s lesson, there are just twelve students and the purpose of the lesson is to look at how the media portrays body image. The students have a whole class discussion that is led by the teacher. In the second part of the lesson, the class is divided into three groups, one will create a short video clip using movie maker, one will create a magazine cover using a publishing programme, and one will create a radio clip using

__audacity.__The students must create an advert called ‘Be Original’, to encourage young people to be satisfied with their body image and to accept that everybody is different. The students only have a short amount of time to complete the task (just 20 minutes), but they collaborate well and work productively.

The students who are creating the video clip go outside and begin taking photos of each other posing with different body shapes. One boy does a handstand against the wall to demonstrate how we can all look different and we all have different body shapes. (I just hope I am not going to be asked to copy this one!) The students making the radio clip work in Greek and English and capture a variety of opinions and each member of the group contributes.

The final results are very good and the students have the opportunity to observe each other’s work. The interesting part of these tasks is that all of them could have been separate lessons, and all of them could have been a longer project, however, the teacher has high expectations of what the students can achieve using technology independently and this means that she can focus on the curriculum content.

In the second part of the morning, I observe another lead teacher, Vasso Violari who is teaching the students to create charts. At the beginning of the lesson, she runs a short quiz to find out what the students know already. She has set up a MS PowerPoint in the style of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ and the students must answer a series of questions to gain euros. Each student has to record their score on a paper and hand it in. The teacher uses the papers to talk to the students about how we collate data. The teacher has stored the file for the students in

__Edmodo__ and this is where they can access their work and comment with the teacher. (The teacher and the students both love Edmodo because it allows the continued communication beyond the lesson, the student can simply post a question or make a comment and the teacher can publicly respond. This feedback is much more immediate and saves the student having to wait until next week’s lesson.)

In the main activity for the lesson, the teacher takes the data from the paper and reads it out to the students for them to insert into an excel spreadsheet. The students then have to create a column graph with the data. As this is the first lesson to learn about creating charts, the students follow the teacher’s instructions, but each student is working on their own computer. Each student has to create the same chart. Most of the students are able to do this step by step with the teacher’s support. I discuss with the teacher about how why the students all have the same task today. In the next lesson, the students will be asked to create some more graphs based on data from their teacher and then asked to present their results in different formats. This initial lesson has given the teacher some indication of what the students already know from the quiz. However, we also discuss that some of the students may welcome the opportunity to be more ‘experimental’ with the software.

The next STEPs for this school are to engage with parents more closely and to encourage them to be involved with the learning that takes place in school.

**How do you engage parents in your school using technology? #lsl_eu****What technologies can we introduce to parents to support their children?****How can we encourage communication between home and school using technology?****When do parents come into school?****How often do parents see their children learning?****What finished work do parents see? And when?**

Towards the end of the day, I interview the students with the deputy headteacher Pepy Michaelides. We talk about the use of technology in school; perhaps what is surprising is just how much the students have observed the teachers using technology in school. (Take note, the students are watching just how skilled you are!) The students openly discuss how much technology is used by all teachers and even when there is no technology in the room, the teachers find ways to make technology available using portable projectors or laptops.

**How often do you ask your students about the use of technology in school?****What resources would your students buy next?****What changes would the students like to see? **

This was a very useful discussion because the students soon realised that access to more laptops would probably be the best option because it would mean that they could be used by more students and moved between classrooms.

So, I leave Nicosia in the beautiful sunshine with an outside temperature of 32°c. (It is a cool November day for the teachers, but having left the UK at 5°c, the rising heat has really got me thinking about how teachers must take the opportunity to gather feedback from the students because it is incredible just how perceptive they are and it can certainly help you to move forward with whole school development!)