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Observation Observation

School observations are an important part of the Creative Classrooms Lab project. On this page you will find information on the observation methodologies and gathered during visits undertaken by Diana Bannister, University of Wolverhampton to the 8 countries involved in the project.

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How can we encourage collaboration in the classroom using tablets?


My first stop in Slovenia was in Ljubljana to High School Gimnazija Jožeta Plečnika Ljubljana where CCL Lead teacher Simona Granfol teaches German.
In this classroom, the 25 students do not have tablets, but they do all have access to a netbook. 
Simona begins the lesson with a quiz on Karl Benz that she has prepared and saved on the school VLE. As part of the CCL project, the teachers in Slovenia have been working on a scenario on collaboration. Simona has shared all the stages of the scenario with her students. Today she revisits the “Dream” part of the scenario and shows where the students’ initial ideas came from. 
The teacher shows the students a video about German inventions; Aspirin, BMW, Beer, Levi Strauss and Haribo to name but a few. It is fascinating when you start to think about what has been invented in a particular country. The teacher then shows the students a second video about Karl Benz and how he developed the car and the brand. Although this is a language lesson, it is clear to see the transferable skills that the students are developing by collaborating with their peers. 
The teacher then divides the students into groups with three or four students to undertake their own research and create a presentation on a German invention.   This is the “Make” part of the scenario process. The students are allowed to decide the software application that they want to use for their presentation.    Some of the students choose PowerPoint, or Prezi, but the teacher also introduces the idea of Glogster or a Wordle too.
  • How often do you let your students choose the application that they will use? 
  • How do you arrange your students to work in groups?
  • Have you ever tried to allocate different roles to your students?
Each group will also have to make a questionnaire with a set of questions so that other students can watch their presentation and then answer the questions. The teacher also asks the students to allocate roles within the group.
  •  1 person is responsible for a slogan/advert
  • 1 person will find the information or the invention and collate it in a google doc
  • 1 student will write the quiz
  • 1 student will create the presentation
The teacher has found that a standard 45 minute lesson is not enough to create something and has therefore used a double lesson for this part of the scenario. However, the students soon get to work as they know there is a lot to do.   The double lesson allows the students time to think and discuss their ideas. The teacher is able to go around and support each group. One of noticeable advantages of this task is that not all the students are doing the same; the students know that they have to remain focussed on their task as the teacher will be looking at their individual outcomes. The information that is collated in the Google doc is accessible by the whole group and this will mean that the students can all see each other’s work. 
  • How do you collate work that is being completed by a collaborative group?
  •  How much time do you give your students for discussion and planning their tasks?
  •  How do you assess the collaborative work of the students?
  • How long are your standard lessons in school? Is 45-50 minutes long enough?
  • What opportunities do you provide for peer to peer assessment?
 Secondary School of Hotel Management and Tourism, Maribor
The second school visit in Slovenia is 90 minutes drive from Ljubljana to the Secondary School of Hotel Management and Tourism in Maribor.
This morning I am with the CCL teacher: Andreja Pečovnik Mencinger who is teaching maths and today’s lesson is about exponential growth. In this classroom, all the students have access to a 7“ Prestigio tablet. The teacher has a Promethean interactive whiteboard. The teacher begins by discussion the students’ homework with them and goes through some algebraic equations and demonstrating examples. The students have had to answer multiple choice questions. The students have also had to plot the equations on a graph.
The teacher shows the students the Indian Legend of the Chessboard on Youtube, and she then discusses the mathematics behind this encouraging the students to show that they have understood. The students can then work out the continuation of the function on their calculator. In their maths books, the students have to explain the function.
The teacher then gives the students an equation on the IWB and they will then work this out in groups. First, the teacher takes 6 of the students and demonstrates how to use the app “Algeo” and they then have to cascade this to their group. The teacher gives out a worksheet for the students to write their results on. Each group has a different worksheet. Using the app Algeo the students have to work out their answers to the equations. The students have to be able to understand the mechanics of the mathematics, and the teacher wants them to know how to draw and plot the outcomes, even though they could just plot diagrams on the tablet. 
The groups work differently, in one group, the students only have 2 devices. There is a strong discussion and one student points and predicts to the other student about the calculation. In the other group the students all have devices but continue to work as individuals. 
  • Do students need to work with an individual device all the time or would it sometimes be more effective to share a device?
  • To what extent do you feel the need to use paper/workbooks in your classroom to keep a record, rather than have a digital record?
  • What other apps are there to record mathematical working out?
  • What other examples are there when students need to be able to know how to demonstrate their working out, rather than allowing the digital program to do the calculation?
  • When students are involved in collaborative work in lessons, how can we track their individual progress?
Throughout the CCL Scenario, Andreja has also recognised the importance of connecting the work within mathematics to the students’ wider curriculum around hotel management. In later work, the students who are also doing catering as part of their course will consider how the topic of exponential growth may impact upon their work. This has involved Andreja taking time to discuss the scenario with other colleagues too, but crucially it enables the students to see the relevance of learning about exponential growth. 
Next Stop: Belgium Flanders