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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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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";...

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...

The Research Bus - All Aboard!

I've had several discussions with different colleagues over the last few weeks about the Living Schools Lab Project and I've decided that it is going to be an important part of my collaborative...

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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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 the external view, but beyond the façade the alterations are dramatic. The investment in the school buildings mirrors the focus of attention on developing learning and teaching in the school. 

The school has 523 students and on each floor there is a ‘cage’ of netbooks for shared use. (100 altogether) The school has a computer lab and 10 classrooms have access to SMART interactive whiteboards. There is a small group of staff who are working together to share good practice about learning and teaching. The Living Schools Lab project has provided the opportunity to look at practice across the whole school. 
The school day begins with an assembly, but in this school the students don’t gather in a large hall; instead the ‘message for the day’ is played in a radio broadcast across all the classrooms. Today’s music: “It’s a beautiful day” gives our tour added vitality. (What a great idea!)
During the visit, I observe a mathematics lesson. The teacher uses the school computer lab and each of the students works on their own PC. Teija and I observe the lesson together; this is the same group that she teaches for languages. Having opportunity to watch the lesson gives Teija the time to focus on how the students learn. 
The students use two websites to visit live information about the stock exchange in Finland. They have each identified 5-7 companies to follow. The teacher explains that they will do this over the next three years whilst at the same time building their knowledge of MS Excel software. The students work at their own pace through the same information. The teacher challenges the students during the lesson with his questions. He explores the notion of profit and loss. (Fortunately, the student I have been working alongside has made good investments, with considerable demonstration of profit.) 
As part of the next STEPS on the plan, Teija will focus on working with the same group of students to increase the level of interaction in the languages classroom. Working with another colleague allows Teija to reflect on her practice. Over the next few months she wants to demonstrate how she can develop her own interactive teaching and continue to share this with her colleagues. This school demonstrates the importance of continued focus on learning and teaching.
In this school, building staff confidence to use technology has been critical to the on-going development. Two staff have provided training for others, and the next step will be to link this to providing regular pedagogical support for one another. Changing classroom practice takes time and it is difficult to do this in isolation. The purpose of the Living Schools Lab project is to encourage teachers to collaborate in their own school, between schools and across the network. Regular classroom observation demonstrates how teachers can develop their practice by exploring innovative teaching and learning. The use of technology allows the teacher to involve the student in the lesson and shifts the emphasis from simply learning knowledge to being able to capture the growing understanding that can be transferred between subjects.
  • Have you observed one of your colleagues teach?
  • How often do you get feedback on your teaching from another colleague?
  • What do you think are the benefits of team teaching?
  • Do you plan  your lessons on your own or with a colleague?
  • Do you know what your next professional development will be?
  • What is the next innovation to be introduced in your school
  • How will you share your innovative work across the school? Can you share ideas with at least one other teacher and plan together?
So, as my journey continues to the schools in France, these two schools in Finland can build the work across the regional hub. The schools have identified the importance of capturing the process of professional development and revisiting this often. The teachers are also in the fortunate position of being able to access free training at the TOP centre.  It is not about selecting the next or latest technology, but making a purposeful use of what is already in school or accessible to you.
PS: For those of you who ever travel from Turku in Finland back to the UK – be prepared for the very short connection between flights and the 17 minute dash across the airport!