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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...

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,...

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...

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...

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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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 school is a haven for the 1047 students and local community it serves. We begin with a tour of the school and meet one of the teachers who gives me an olive branch as a welcome to the school – the school is set in an area called “Olivais” and there are some olive trees nearby. Students enter/exit the school using a card GIAE online. This is particularly useful as the campus is open for long hours of the day and for adult learning. Students can also register their attendance in the lesson too.  Whilst most of the school is contained within one large building, the gym is in a separate building at the side. Inside the main building, the school also has a shop where students can buy all their stationery and necessities for their projects. 

Eҫa de Queirós  was a famous writer and along with a huge portrait of the author, the corridors are also elegantly marked with the names of his works. I do find it fascinating to learn how the name of the school runs deep within the philosophy, expectation and approach. It is a great reminder of how we can inspire the students with the displays too. This school has student artwork on fairly large canvases; the displays are finished pieces of high quality and show a distinct pride. 
This school also has a very active TV channel (Eҫa TV) that is coordinated by a member of staff and approximately 8-10 student volunteers. The students regularly try to capture learning and teaching or interview visitors to the school. I think it would be great to see some of our LSL schools working with others on a European or even international broadcast.
The link observation visit to Portugal is particularly significant because both Advanced schools are directed by a single principal, the schools work as part of a cluster of 3 schools that all have the same board of directors to provide for approximately 2000 students in total. The schools have an established team that collaborate on the curriculum and technology is integral to these developments continually supporting whole school development. It also demands a lot of technical support and I can’t fail to notice how most of this rests on one person’s shoulders.
  • Who is responsible for the technical support in your school?
  • How do you provide this?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of managed services?
  • Are there any alternative solutions for technical support? #lsl_eu
The first lesson today is Psychology; here the 12th grade students are learning about mental processes. The teacher begins by opening his Facebook page; finding the “Group” and highlighting the tasks that the students have been asked to do in preparation for the lesson.   The teacher asks one of the students to come to the front and write the key mental processes that they have been learning about: Concentration, Attention, Perception, Recall, Intelligence and Memory. The teacher then considers with the students how certain events or ideas can become distorted with illusions or hallucinations. The teacher selects some of the students to share their ideas with the whole class that they have already posted on Facebook. 
In the next part of the lesson, the teacher asks one of the students to read aloud a piece of text from a book by Antonio Damasio about conscience, and the class consider the question “What difference does it make when people sleep or when they wake up?” “How is their enthusiasm affected?
The students also learn from the discussion with the teacher that we behave in certain ways because of the things that have happened to us. The teacher skilfully encourages the further reading of the text, but equally highlights some online examples in an attempt to satisfy the different learning needs of all the students. He demonstrates to the students how technology is just one of the resources that will help them with their learning, but he also reminds the students that some of the key points are still available in their course textbook. (Without being dependent on it!) One student presents some anamorphic illusions that he has found on Youtube, and there is the moment of realisation as the students understand from the video that our perceptions can be very different. This lesson demonstrates how the technology has become integral to the learning and the students have an expectation that they will need to access the technology during the lesson, but they have a growing independence to access a range of resources. Using Facebook as a tool has also allowed the learning to continue beyond the 90 minutes of time with the teacher and provided extended opportunities for communication and dialogue. It enables the students to continue to interact with their learning around the subject.
The teacher is trying to balance between traditional and innovative settings of learning; Facebook allows the teacher to provide a collegial environment between the classroom environment and personal study. By encouraging the students to share their learning, it stimulates continued discussion and promotes self-study. The teacher believes it helps to “promote self and group regulation.” However, it doesn’t work for all students so the teacher has to have other ways of communicating with the students too.
  • How do you communicate with your students beyond the lesson time?
  • How do you promote opportunities for continuous learning?
  • Have you used Facebook with your students?
  • How do you use Facebook with your students?
  • What are the advantages of using Facebook?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • What similar tools do you use instead/as well?
The second lesson is Mathematics with LSL lead teacher Maria-Teresa Godhino. In today’s lesson, the students are learning about vectors and how to write the components of a vector, as well as the co-ordinates.   The teacher uses the interactive whiteboard to demonstrate to the students how to calculate the numbers.  Maria-Teresa begins by modelling the processes and then asks some students to show the class how to calculate the answers to some of the questions.  The teacher also has an e-book version of the students textbook, this does allow the teacher to play short video clips demonstrating vectors and determining the co-ordinates. However, the teacher is not dependent on this, and equally uses the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard and the ActivInspire Software to demonstrate additional examples. She identifies some students to go the IWB and solve some additional challenges. As one student is not sure, the others positively support him and correct him suggesting what the answer should be and why.    The teacher and the students also use Geogebra and this then means that the students have seen vectors in three different pieces of software and they can explore further in their own time to build their understanding. The focus remains on the mathematical learning and not on the use of the software.
  • How often do you ask your students to demonstrate?
  • Have you tried recording small video clips of some of the students demonstrating how to solve mathematical problems? 
The other students will enjoy watching them and may find it more interesting to learn from their peers. It will also give the students a chance to look at different strategies used by people in the same class. As a teacher it can give you the chance to see how your students have worked something out and maybe spot where they need a little bit more help too!
  • If you are using a textbook for the lesson – how do you know that your individual students are challenged?
It’s a long day in secondary school for students in Portugal, with some classes not finishing until 6pm. However, if today is anything to go by, it would seem they are so involved with their lessons; they don’t have time to think about it!