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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...

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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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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 connecting corridor is only along the bottom floor. There are approximately 393 students across the school. The school day starts at 8.30am until 1.15pm. All the classrooms have at least one PC and projector, but there are some classrooms with interactive whiteboards.

Upstairs are large rooms that most primary school teachers would probably only be able to dream about the amount of room. At present, there is a main teaching room for each teacher and at the back there is a door connecting to another room. (There is lots of space to learn!) Each teacher has personalised his/her own space and the “free space” is currently used for a variety of activities including art, music and other group work. I can feel my eyes widen as I am excited by the size of the space and the possibilities; with or without technology. In one of the free spaces, the teachers have collated a number of historical items. It is a little museum of Lithuania. These are spaces that the school could develop further and it will be interesting to know how technology impacts upon these spaces over the next five years. 
  • Do you have a small classroom?
  • How have you changed the learning spaces around your school to embrace new technologies?
  •   What would you do to a particular space if you had the opportunity? Have you shared your ideas and tried to make them a reality?
  •  How often do you ask the students to redesign learning spaces?
  • Have you got any spaces in your school that could be used differently?
Aurika Jonauskiene is one of the LSL lead teachers who teaches English in the school. She has a bright classroom with displays and some of these have been created by the students.
Today’s first lesson is with Lina Dubosaite who is a lead LSL teacher and also involved in a number of different EU projects. The students are learning about how to draw a plan and an aerial view. Lina has access to a projector and a pull down screen in her classroom. She begins the lesson from the front with the students at their desks.
The teacher gives each student an A5 piece of paper and distributes a box of objects. She asks the students to stand on their chairs (carefully of course) and draw the object from above.
Along one long wall of the classroom is a large cork display board. At one end, this has six pictures of rooms that have been painted by the students. The rest of the wall is blank.
The teacher shows an IWB file on the projector screen and using a magnifying glass she scans over various objects to reveal what the aerial view would look like. The teacher uses Promethean Activboard software, but she does not have access to an interactive whiteboard in her classroom.
The teacher selects some students to go to the front to draw a line between the actual view of the object and the aerial view.
Lina separates the students in to groups of 4-5 students and the children move to work around a small table for each group. 
  • How often do you display students’ learning?
  •  How often do you display the student’s work immediately as part of the lesson to enable the students to ask questions of each other and further their learning?
Some of the LSL schools use digital frames or larger screens to display student work too. This can even include some live streaming.
In this activity, the teams of students have to sort through plan drawings of objects in the envelope and Lina gives the students ten minutes to sort them. Each group has one sheet of A3 paper and one glue stick and the students must then discuss and agree where the various parts of the plan need to go.
Towards the end of the activity, the teacher gives the students just two minutes to make sure that all the pieces that they want to use are stuck down and all the spare pieces are back in the envelope. 
In the next activity, the teacher asks the students to work in pairs with access to a wireless mouse, but using Mouse Mischief all the students can participate to complete the questions projected onto the screen at the front of the class. At the beginning of each activity, the students have to place their mouse on the same starting point. There are a total of 11 mice connected. The students like it when they can spot the symbol for their mouse and are keen to be first to the correct answer. This activity gives the teacher the opportunity to reinforce some of the key points from the group work and addresses the main objectives of the lesson.
The children have to stand with a piece of paper in one hand and a pencil in the other. The teacher says the names of certain objects and the students have to indicate whether they see it on their plan (using the pencil) or whether they see in on their plan already. (using the paper) The teacher goes through the different parts of the plan and the student see whether any particular students have put things in different places.
In the final part of the lesson, the teacher gives each individual student an Optivote clicker. Students have to use the Optivote to select A/B. This voting allowed for the teacher to have some information about the individual student progress. The teacher presents the results to the students. The students who have achieved good results are given a sticker that can be put into their home school diaries so that their parents can see.
At the end of this action packed lesson, the teacher presents the students with three ‘emoticon’ faces and asks them to evaluate how they have found the work. Some of the students share that they liked working with the mouse, whilst others prefer the group work. 
  • How often do you specifically ask your students for feedback during the lesson?
  • What technologies work well when trying to gather student feedback
  •  Do all staff across your school collate feedback in a similar way at the end of the lesson?
  •  How and when do you respond to student feedback?
  • What opportunities are students given to provide feedback on whole school change?

In the second lesson I observe, the students have been using Glogster to create posters about famous Lithuanian people with LSL teacher Ovidija Budnikiene. This lesson takes place in the computer lab where there are 14 PCs around the room and a SMARTboard at the front of the classroom. The teacher has put all the presentations onto the SMARTboard using a series of hyperlinks from within one Notebook file. This is good because the students can access them all easily from one place. It also means that the students can see the completed work as a “publication.” (rather than an exercise in a book!)

  •  How often do you use technology to “publish” the students’ work?
  •  How can you showcase your students’ work to raise the profile of the work of the school?
After the students have looked at a few of the presentations, they go to work at a PC. Some of the students work individually, whilst a few are in pairs. The teacher has created a grid of quiz questions about famous Lithuanian people. There are five sections and for each section, the student must go through five questions on the grid, getting progressively more difficult. As the questions get more complex, the student is awarded more points. (5 = easy 25 =hard)
The teacher rings a bell and asks the students to look at the IWB where she has 10 questions and she will test the group. After this, the students then have to complete crosswords on the PC, the teacher has selected three cross words and the students now have to solve them.   The students are keen to be one of the first to finish the task. These activities are also about famous Lithuanian people. The teacher has some of the lesson materials using Purpose Games. As there are less individual computers than students, the teacher gives some students a paper jigsaw of a famous Lithuanian to build. The teacher ends the lesson by asking for feedback about the different activities. She passes a ball around the class and students must give one sentence feedback about the lesson.  In the next lesson, the students are going to create their own game about the European Union for other students. The homework is to collect materials on the European Union. Now the students know the website, I suspect that some of them will be trying this out at home first!
  • What programs or web-based applications do you use for the students to create their own games?
  • Have you asked your older students to create a game for the younger students?
  •  How often do you use a technology based activity as part of the student’s homework?
Across the wider school, the teachers have been collecting examples of good resources for all staff to share via a section of the website. The school has also done a significant amount of work to support Gifted and Talented students. Teachers within the school also use Class Dojo to help record and monitor the student behaviour in the class. The key to success across this school is encouraging staff to share best practice and to continue to find ways to engage in using technology across the curriculum. There is an increased professional dialogue about learning and teaching, and above all a focus on student feedback. As always, it is not just getting the student feedback, but making it a priority to respond to it and the work of the teachers shows that has now become part of the mainstream practice for this school.
So, I leave Kaunas Varpelis Primary School and head south to Klaipeda - it is at least 3 ½ hours by car. But as I am two hours ahead of my usual time zone, maybe the journey will seem half as long?