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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...

Creating digital content; interactive textbooks; analysing spaced learning and flipped classrooms.

  My second visit is over an hour by aeroplane from Bologna to the ‘heel’ of Italy in Brindisi. (the climate is completely different and the sun is shining!)   ITIS...

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....

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...

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...

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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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.  Anne-Sophie Picard has her own class of 9-11 year olds and she teaches full time 3 days a week. (Primary School is currently only 4 days a week, there is no school on Wednesdays, but soon this will change to 4.5 days.) In the main school, there are 5 spacious classrooms, a library and a dedicated computer lab. In a separate building there is the nursery school. At present, only the junior school is WIFI enabled throughout. 

One of the key aims of the Living Schools Lab project is to identify practice that can be mainstreamed across the school. As the head teacher in the school, Anne-Sophie has the challenge of demonstrating practice in her own classroom, but also supporting other staff across the school. She has recognised the benefit of working with local ICT advisers in the classroom; this helps to provide evidence of how the school is using the technology, but it also begins to highlight how changing pedagogy is much harder than just providing access to new equipment.
“This is a very typical Monday morning.” says Anne-Sophie. It is a world where technology has met with tradition.   This is probably something that resonates with many teachers who are developing their practice across the school, and it can be critical to focus the use of technology in particular subjects, rather than trying to do too much at once.  In this school, Anne-Sophie is working on the use of ICT in mathematics and it is significant that the dynamics of the lesson are completely different.
The morning begins with Mathematics, in today’s lesson; the students have to research information using WIKIMINI to locate the distance of the planets from the sun. The students have one netbook between two. Some students work in the computer lab next door and the teacher is able to move between the two rooms. The students must insert their data into an excel spreadsheet. Anne-Sophie has created a template for the students. This works well because the students can concentrate on finding the data. The students work together for about 30 minutes to find the data they need. They work on the task in collaboration and with enthusiasm. They discuss the material, make their own notes and work at their own pace. In the plenary of the lesson, the teacher turns on the interactive whiteboard and demonstrates to the students how to organise the data in order. The students then copy the teacher and do the same. One of the important parts of this lesson is the use of templates. Anne-Sophie has identified that the younger students do not need to spend time creating a template; this can be provided by the teacher. 
  • What templates or frameworks do you use when you are teaching?
  • Do you have templates that can be shared across your school or with other schools?
  • Have you got any good examples to share in the Community of Practice?
In the first lesson, the teacher was able to provide support to the students and to guide their learning.   The template gave the content a structure and the teacher introduced some new knowledge.  The lesson also gave the students opportunity to undertake their own research, gather information and organise data; these are lifelong skills. The discussion between the students during the lesson was focussed upon the learning. 
The second lesson is Poetry. Every two weeks the students have a new poem to learn which they must be able to recite from memory. The teacher has handwritten the poem on the dry wipe board and the students must copy it down. (Every single student writes all the verses beautifully!) The students work almost in silence and the teacher is able to supervise their work. Those who finish can draw a picture. 
Whilst this lead teacher is determined to maintain her high standards; she is integrating the use of technology to only some of her lessons. The teacher is now challenging herself in the project to continue to change the practice in school, by starting in her own classroom first.  School development using ICT is ongoing.
As part of the Living Schools Lab project, Anne-Sophie has benefitted from reflecting on her practice and has begun to review her progress. There are sharp contrasts and blurred edges where Anne-Sophie is working to move the use of ICT forward across the school.    However, the next STEPS will require some brave decisions to take the same approach, but in other subjects too.
  • What other methods could the students use to learn their poem?
  • How would this impact on standards?
  • What is the most innovative way for students to learn a poem in two weeks? How can technology enable this? (I wonder if some of our Advanced Practitioners can take up this challenge and share your thoughts in a Learning Snack on the Community of Practice, or on Twitter #lsl_eu.)
This school in France has also reinforced those two precious words: “teacher time”. A primary school student spends most of their day with one teacher and this use of time needs to be maximised to its full potential. Anne-Sophie has shown in Mathematics that thinking about the role of the teacher and the tasks of the students in the lesson can make a real difference to the quality of learning and teaching.
Before you read about the second school I went to in France, consider how the students use technology in your classroom. 
  • What opportunities do the students have to decide their own learning pathway within the lesson?
  • How do you use the student dialogue in lessons to increase the learning opportunities? (Silence is not golden!)
  •  How can you develop the role of the teacher to enable the students to make the best use of your time? (Technology will feature somewhere!)