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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...

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...

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...

What is new on your professional learning journey?

It always seems that we have to wait a long time for the summer holidays, counting off the days on the calendar, planning for all those things we are going to do, "when we have more time";...

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...

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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"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 “Basic School”. 
Petra is the lead teacher and engaged with several European Projects.    Our tour of the school begins in the staff “Kabinet”. This is not a cupboard but a work space for several colleagues who teach the same subject. Each member of staff has access to their own laptop. (There is no staffroom for all the staff to meet regularly.)   My morning begins with an introduction to the school and Petra has made some cake called “Buchty” for me to try. It is soft, almost like a ‘doughnut’ and a layer of poppy seeds in the middle. (It is not a requirement of the Living Schools to be able to cook for visitors, but as it is beautifully homemade it is important to mention – a “Learning Snack”1.)
Petra has a personal interest in developing the use of augmented reality and she is keen to convey her passion for technology. She has been exploring this through “Magic Cards+” and demonstrated this to me with an AR postcard of Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral. AR is still largely exploratory in schools, but there is definitely potential for enabling students to step inside and to bring a place to life. Petra also demonstrated a “Heart Cam” and this allowed me to wear a t-shirt which could be scanned to reveal a heart in Augmented Reality. This is an example of a technology that will continue to be drip-fed into the education system and piloted by schools. Another website where you can explore this is www.aumentaty.com
The Primary School children are based in the upper part of the building and as we walk upstairs, I immediately notice the large windows that have been placed into the classroom walls in the corridor. This allows us to view inside the classrooms and see the students at work, and it is much better than being unable to see beyond full length wooden doors. Petra explains that the headteacher has only recently had this work undertaken after visiting schools in another country and recognising the benefits of other staff being able to see inside the classroom during the lessons.   There is an incredible sense of calm in each classroom and students are clearly engaged in their learning. Each classroom is equipped with a PC and projector. There are also Promethean interactive whiteboards throughout most of the classrooms. 
The school has three computer labs and a further one being built.   There is WIFI throughout the school. These are not just used for ICT and although the rooms are timetabled, there are spaces where teachers book for their lessons.
Throughout the school there are lots of large paintings on the walls that have been by created students to reflect the different subjects. There are also many current displays and I notice a project showing the students at the local park. The students have taken photographs to support their environmental studies. Petra is looking to develop an area in the park by making a trail of QR codes with information about the trees. This is a great example of how the student learning has transferred to the real world and is linked to their home community. This project certainly has potential and could be replicated across different subjects. It emphasises the importance of students being able to use the technology and embed it into the real world, but it also provides the much needed interconnection between school and home.
Outside, there is an eco-classroom where students can go with the teacher to participate in their lessons. The area is covered by a roof, and there is enough space for a class of students to sit. Petra explains that since the school has bought 32 ipads, this has enabled the students to take technology outside too. 
As we come to the end of our tour of the school, it is almost time for the break.  However, there is no bell, but music to mark the transition to the next phase of the day. 
1In the Living Schools Lab Project, Bart Verswijvel is developing the notion of Learning Snacks in the Community of Practice. Our Advanced Schools and Advanced Practitioners have the opportunity to either create or attend Professional Development “Learning Snacks” that have been created by teachers and other educationalists. Whilst the LSL Advanced Schools and Practitioners get the first chance to reserve the place at these events, they are offered to a wider audience via Twitter #lsl_eu or the LSL website.