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Whole School Change using Technology is Perhaps Scientific

My final Link Observation Visit planned at this stage of the project was to Simono Dacho School in Klaipeda. This is a “Basic School” providing education for approx. 1000 students...

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...

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...

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...

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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Whole School Change using Technology is Perhaps Scientific

My final Link Observation Visit planned at this stage of the project was to Simono Dacho School in Klaipeda. This is a “Basic School” providing education for approx. 1000 students aged 7-15 years from 1st grade to 8th grade. The school has 86 teachers. The school is 155 years old, it has four floors, but the final floor was added on just eight years ago.   In the latter part of the school, the classrooms are much smaller; some are used for languages and others for student pastoral support. Throughout the school, there are a range of technologies; there are 21 IWB in various classrooms.  There are two computer labs in school and these are used for a range of subjects. 

In the hall this morning, there is a full stage with students rehearsing for their pantomime show which will be staged at lunchtime to a real audience! Not far from the main hall is a “little theatre room” that is used for rehearsals. Equipped with full sound and lighting, both rooms are part of the school’s commitment to showcase theatre education.
My morning begins on the third floor with physics teacher and LSL lead Virginija Birenienė. The lesson begins with the teacher clapping a couple of fast rhythms and the students repeating them back. The room is full of energy and students all ready to present their work on the topic of water as part of the Physics curriculum and they have had just two lessons to prepare their presentations in small groups. It gives the teacher the opportunity to observe how the students work with their peers and also for the students to learn from each other.
The students have created their presentations using Keynote  on an ipad. Each student has access to an individual iPad for the lesson time, but these do not go home.  (At the end of each lesson, the students put their iPad into a black plastic box and the teacher takes them to a secure room to be charged in a purpose built cabinet - the school has 31 iPads altogether.)
  • What opportunities do you give for peer assessment in your lessons?
  • How do you use technology for peer assessment?
  • What technologies do your students use for presentations?
  • How do share your student presentations? 
The main lesson observation is an English lesson with Gintarius Petkus an LSL lead teacher. Gintarius is working with the fifth grade students looking at how to present stories. There are only 11 students in the class. The teacher asks the students 5 facts about Leonardo da Vinci to warm up their use of spoken English as the starter activity. 
The students have had to prepare a mini presentation, but the rule is they must have some questions ready to ask their audience about the presentation. The aim of this is two-fold, it gives the students the opportunity to think about the kinds of questions the audience would be able to ask; but it also ensures that the audience is listening so that they can answer the questions if they are asked.
  • How do you encourage student participation in your lessons?
  • How do you encourage students to interact with their peers during the lesson?
The first student has chosen to present on the winter Olympics.
She begins with asking “Where is the winter Olympics being held?”
In advance of the presentation, the teacher has also guided the students to identify five new words that they are going to introduce the other students to. These should have been written in large writing on white A4 paper so that they can be held up for the class to see, but also placed on the visualiser so that they are projected to everyone. The key words from the first student are: “suggest; mascot; speechless, routine and athletes.”
At the end of the presentation, the student asks: “What are the mascots of the Olympics? How many nations qualified for the Olympics?”
In the second part of the lesson, the teacher asks the students to take an iPad from the box at the front of the classroom, the teacher asks the students to go to . The teacher demonstrates to the students how to change the language in the General settings. He also shows the students how to ensure that SIRI is turned on. Finally, the students have to make sure the language is set to English. The teacher asks the students to search the word “qualify”. Students have to press the pronunciation and practise how to say it for 3 seconds. The students do the same for the word “routine”. 
One of the most significant points within this lesson is the role of the teacher. Whilst at first it seems the teacher is focussed on listening to the presentations; it soon becomes apparent that the teacher uses the individual access to technology to increase the learning opportunities for the students. For example; after each presentation, the teacher asks the students to search for further information or how to define new words. This helps to maintain the pace of the lesson and the spontaneity adds to the challenge for the students as sometimes the teacher identifies particular students to do a task. When the second student presents about his “brother’s turtle”, it is not long before some students are challenged to find the correct pronunciation of “crustacean.”
  • How does technology allow the teacher to be spontaneous within lessons?
  • What is the teacher’s role when the students are making presentations?
  •  Do you give your students criteria for presentations?
  • How can you use technology to increase learning opportunities?
Across this school there is an expectation that students and teachers will use technology across all subjects. There is a commitment from the management of the school to technological change and the LSL teachers are experimental with pedagogical change. 
  • Do you recognise your school within the descriptions of the advanced schools?
  • How can you align your technological change in school with the required pedagogical changes?
  • Has your school joined the Living Schools Lab network?
  • What can you share within your Regional Hub?
  • When did you make time to observe how other teachers in your school use technology?

Having now visited schools in all twelve countries involved in the first wave of the Living Schools Lab project, it is clear to see that LSL “Advanced” schools are at different stages, but there are common features. There is certainly much to be learnt from observing the practice in real classrooms and I am extremely grateful to all of the LSL teachers who have opened their doors to the world. Developing practice in the use of technology is ongoing. It demands time, money and considerable effort, but if it leads to worthwhile change within learning and teaching, this needs to be mainstreamed.

For now, I leave Klaipeda in Lithuania and head for home, back to the University of Wolverhampton, UK.  (I’ve yet to calculate the total number of kilometres travelled – but it’s quite a few!)
Next Stop: LSL Summer School  - Dublin!