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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...

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...

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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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 lower secondary school of 420 students. It is a brand new building that opened only two years ago in November. Outside, the snow is falling and the temperature is just below zero. My morning begins with putting on the blue shoe covers, whilst most of the students have their indoor clothes in the entrance lockers. 

The school is triangular shaped with three sides leading off a large sports hall at the top emphasising the school’s focus on the sports curriculum. The classrooms are all accessed via an electronic key fob. There are also areas dedicated to different subjects including music which has several soundproof practise areas and students working on their latest compositions for guitar and drums. In the centre of the school is a large open plan hall; this is a social learning space, but also converts into the performance area or space to bring all the students. It is the full height of the school and from the balcony upstairs at various times of the day are different groups of students working, socialising and taking their lunch break.
The first lesson observation is with RLE (Religious Education, Life and Ethics) with the 9th Grade students. The learning environment is split into three areas. There are two open classrooms that lead onto sofa areas and in the middle there is a classroom with a closed door. The first lesson is on the right-hand side and in the open space is a trolley stacked with laptops charging. (On the front door of the trolley, the list of names of the students indicates the order they should be stacked.) In this school, every student has access to their own laptop during the daytime at school. It is their device, but it stays in school. Since September 2013, every 8th grade student in TromsØ is given a laptop and this is paid for by regional funding in the municipality. When the students leave school, it will become their own property.
Anniken the teacher stands at the front with her laptop on a lectern next to the SMARTboard. She begins by recapping the story of Buddhism by reading from a textbook. The students listen and respond to her questions. When instructed, the students go and get their laptops from the trolley. They are charged and ready to work. (both laptops and students).
Today, the students will use Creaza to retell the story of Buddhism in the form of a comic. The teacher gives a short introduction to remind the students of some of the features of the software. One student volunteers to use the IWB and creates a background, dragging in characters and adding the spoken words. The students work for about 35 minutes. As they work, some are connected to their own smartphones listening to personal music on their headphones. Two students move themselves to the sofa area because the laptops need charging and continue to work on their story. The teacher is able to move around and support.
  • Do you allow the students to use their own devices in lessons?
  • Can the students listen to their own music in lessons?
During the day, I observe two more lessons. In English, the students are preparing a presentation which they will deliver to the class. The students can decide which software to use. Kay Larssen, a LSL lead teacher begins the lesson by presenting the criteria that will be used to assess the students’ presentation. It is a detailed document outlining the content, and the grammatical requirements. However, each of the students is allowed to approach the task in their own way. 
One student has already written her script and will now write the slides, a second student is doing the script and the slides together, whilst a third is writing the slides and will do the script after. The challenge for the teacher is the range of abilities, but as the students are working independently, the teacher is able to monitor their individual progress.
  • When the students are working on ICT projects, how do you help them to organise their lesson time?
My third lesson observation is Norwegian. This is a big class of 28 students and they automatically spread out into the open space beyond where the walls of the classroom might have been. In today’s lesson, each student works on this or her own laptop, but they are collaborating to produce a debate on their chosen topic. The students are free to search the internet and find information. (Speed limits on mopeds, professional boxing and abortion demonstrate the range of just a few of the topics being debated in pairs.)
The teacher moves around the class and engages in the discussions, however today he is also concerned to see how the students are progressing with their work. Using Microsoft Office 365 to check on the students’ progress from a distance, this allows him to comment immediately, display examples to students, and generally track progress. The students have been working for about eight minutes and the teacher can identify the current challenges and help to maintain their focus.
As a new school, the technology is readily available; the students have strong routines for access and freedom to make some of their own decisions about how they learn.
  • Do you give students the criteria for marking project based learning?
  •  How often do you change the layout of the classroom for using technology?
In this school, the focus for the ICT co-ordinator to link the ICT regional plan to the individual subjects. Anniken also spends time team teaching with other colleagues to ensure that they feel confident to use the software with the students. She is released from the timetable for a few hours each week to be able to do this.
So, as I leave the first school in TromsØ, I am keen to know:
  • How closely is your ICT development plan linked to the school development plan?
  • If you are looking to develop practice across the school, when do you demonstrate to others what you are doing in your classroom?
  • Have you tried team teaching with a colleague to improve teacher knowledge of hardware or software?
  • How can we improve technical support in school to ensure that the ICT co-ordinator spends time dealing with the pedagogy and not resolving the technology?
  • If you are an Advanced School, have you got video examples of lessons to demonstrate your practice linked to your whole school planning? 
 
In the LSL project we already have some videos of the LSL Advanced Schools, you can see the showcase of the work that they are doing. However, in this second year, we are trying to collate examples of practice which demonstrate what all the teachers in the project are working on to develop the use of ICT across the whole school. These will be made available as part of the Community of Practice.