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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...

One Magical Genie, a webquest, seven workstations and an innovation team

My morning begins with a tour of this primary school in Geroskipou . The school day starts at 7.30am and ends at 1:05pm. (The time is two hours ahead of UK, and with a one hour journey to...

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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One Magical Genie, a webquest, seven workstations and an innovation team

My morning begins with a tour of this primary school in Geroskipou. The school day starts at 7.30am and ends at 1:05pm. (The time is two hours ahead of UK, and with a one hour journey to school, it’s an early start!) The school is a relatively brand new building from 2006 and with 327 students; it is a large school in Cyprus. The headteacher is in her second year at the school. One of the most interesting parts of the Cyprus education system that I heard about is that staff in school are not usually allowed to stay in a school more than 6 years. This has many implications for whole school change. One of the Advanced Practitioners in a different school within the LSL project in Cyprus has had 19 new teachers in his school in September, 42% of the staff have changed. Undoubtedly, this will impact upon many aspects of school life.

  • What happens when someone new joins your school?
  • What types of training and professional development are available to them?
  • What induction does a new member of staff get to the technology in school? And who delivers this?
  •  Are there particular activities that you can recommend to teachers joining a new school? #lsl_eu
Equally, in other countries some schools have staff that have been in the school for a very long time, and this can present a different challenge to ensure that they remain aware of the developments beyond the school. (Not just in technology!)
Although this is a new school, there is a noticeable difference between the amount of resources in this school and the other countries I have visited. Not all classrooms have a fixed projector, but there are some portable ones available in school. Several schools in Cyprus have also faced the on-going problem of equipment being stolen and this had led to the decision to buy portable equipment.
  •  What is the best way to secure equipment in school?
  • Can you recommend any advice about securing resources?
Some classrooms have an interactive whiteboard, and in the first grade, the students are doing some simple mathematics counting the pictures of fruit. Several students are selected to go to the front to choose the answers to each question, whilst the other students have to find the right answer on a number line on their desk using a finger puppet.    The children ‘like being able to see the information on the big board’.
In the last 6 months, the school has allowed the children to bring their own devices into school, and this means that once or twice a week, some students bring their own laptop in from home. This means that the children can share resources.
In the playground at playtime, the activities are organised for the children, scrabble, draughts, basketball and other sports equipment is all set out into separate areas.
This morning, I will work with Skevi Demetriou one of the lead teacher’s in this school. 
In the classroom, there are seven work stations and seventeen students. The students work in pairs or groups of 3. The areas within the webquest are:
1)      Introduce Yourselves
2)      Sightseeing in London
3)      Geography in London
4)      Food of London
5)      Football in London
6)      British Museum
7)      Multicultural London
 The next step for this class is to look at how the ICT activities can be further connected to real life. It would be great if they could share their work with a school in London and show what they have been learning about. 
The webquest includes seven different activities and each member of the class is given a role.
When the students have completed a task, they have to take a ‘lollipop stick’ with a number on it and insert it into polystyrene on their desks. This gives a very visual display to the teacher and the rest of the students about how far each group has progressed through the tasks. In each task, the students have to swap roles; they also need to swap who takes the lead with the laptop because there is only one laptop for each group. Within the webquest, the students have to complete several different types of activities, including a jigsaw of the British Isles, highlighting the location of London, a data task to find out the populations for several European countries including Britain, a menu for a restaurant demonstrating the British cuisine, a brochure for one of the places of interest. The students work cooperatively throughout the tasks. The teacher is able to move around the groups, during the morning, she also stops the students with a tambourine. She selects the work of the students using the Google drive to see how far they have progressed through the task. The students use Voki, Blabberise, Wordle, Glogster, Create a Graph and Makebeliefscomix.com
This webquest has been created in weebly by a group of teachers  within the school for the work of the LSL project. It has taken a lot of input, but the result is successful.  It begins with a talking magical genie introducing the tasks. One of the key outputs for the teachers is the ‘template’. The concept of the webquest could be explored for other topics, e.g. another country, a specific aspect of the science or history curriculum, the local community. I discuss with the teachers the importance of gaining student feedback and evaluations of the materials. Within these materials, the students are largely the consumers of the teacher information, and one of the development points will be to encourage the students to take a leading role in producing new ideas. At the end of this webquest experience, even these young students would be able to create materials for a new topic. It would also be helpful to try different ways of working, e.g. if these students had access to more laptops, what differences would this make to the kinds of activities they are able to do? 
In the final part of the morning, I have the opportunity to meet with the Student Council for this school, the group of eight students have been working on a series of topics that are whole school issues and collating evidence from all the students across the school. I discuss with the students how they can also promote the work they are doing with technology beyond the school. I am sure some of the students will take up the challenge to create a video broadcast to highlight some of their achievements in the student council.
  • Do you have a student council?
  • What opportunities do you give the student council to explore ICT in school?
  • Have the student council observed the teachers and given feedback?
  • How do the students share the work of the council with the school community?
I think what resonates most with me from my visits to the schools in Cyprus is how much the teachers have been able to achieve whilst having access to less resources. The teachers have worked as a team and are clearly committed to enabling students to learn using technology across all areas of the curriculum. The next stage will be to consider how the model of the webquests could be adapted for students of different age groups and to capture individual student progress using technology.