Teachers' Blog Teachers' Blog

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.

School Observation Blog School Observation Blog
Blogs »
Renewable energy created with tablets in classrooms


It’s early on Wednesday morning and today I am with CCL lead teacher for Italy Daniela Cuccurullo at IIT Giordani Striano in Naples.  The school is a technical institute with four different branches of studies: ICT, Chemistry, Mechanics and Electronics.  Students are aged 14-19. The building is a dominating c.1960’s structure made up of three concrete blocks with protruding angles, set in the suburbs above the hundreds of skyscrapers that dominate the landscape overlooking Mount Vesuvius.  Inside, there is a steep ramp that ascends alongside the classrooms at each level.  There are almost 1300 students in the school.  The school merged with another school two years ago. Today I am with the 5th grade students aged 17, who largely came from the previous school where they had already been involved in a national initiative called Classroom 2.0.  There are 14 males students in the class.

The school has adopted the CLIL methodology; this means that the English language teaching is integrated into the specialist subject.  Daniela is an English teacher, but today’s subject is physics and alternative forms of energy.  Within the CCL project, Daniela adopted the Flipped Classroom approach within the first scenario, and in the second scenario she has focussed on Collaboration and Assessment.  In this lesson, the students know that they are at the “Create” phase of the scenario.

Today’s lesson begins with the students sitting at desks laid out in a horseshoe shape around the interactive whiteboard and the teacher.  The students all have access to a SAMSUNG Galaxy tab 4

Prior to the lesson, the students have had to research alternative forms of energy and focus on one in particular.  The teacher begins the lesson with a video, the students watch the video and the teacher then asks the students to contribute to a LINOIT about the different kinds of energy sources.  The students readily give responses and the teacher begins to target some students with additional questions; for example, how does a solar panel work? What are the advantages and disadvantages of solar panels?  (It soon becomes clear that the students need to have done their research prior to the lesson.) The teacher moves on to a discussion about renewable and non-renewable energy sources and again the students share their understanding.    This section of the lesson is dependent on the students being able to draw upon their prior knowledge from lessons in the science labs as well as their own flipped learning at home.  This means that the teacher can use the time to focus on their English skills. The teacher’s role is critical here to ask questions, identify the progress of individual students and make formative assessments before moving to the next part of the lesson. During the next 15 minutes, the students then share their work and prior learning, but the teacher steers their responses to guide the next stage spontaneously.    Whilst the students are not currently allowed to take their tablets home, all of the students have prepared something digital to show that they have completed their flipped task.    Some students have also brought their own mobile device to the lesson and they can use this throughout to support their learning.

In the second part of the lesson, the teacher has created a webquest that she has shared with the students via Edmodo.  The task is for the students to create a learning app, a chapter for a wiki, a Popplet or a Glogster to demonstrate their new knowledge on different forms of energy.    The teacher uses RUBISTAR to enable the students to write their own assessment criteria for the task.  The rubric can then be downloaded or printed so the students have a checklist for their work. (Title, Content, Accuracy, Attractiveness, Audience Appeal)

The students rearrange the desks into groups of four to collaborate on their product.  (This is a seamless transition and the students are soon engaged in what they are going to produce – there is a lot of ‘brain’ energy this morning.)  The students discuss their work in Italian, but the end product has to be in English.  The students now have the rest of the lesson and next lesson to “create” their resource.

  • How can you use technology to develop assessment criteria?
  • How do you use the Flipped Classroom approach in your school?
  • Have you given your students opportunity to create their own apps?
  • Have you changed the layout of your classroom/learning spaces to encourage collaborative learning?

Istituto Comprensivo Merano II: Scuola Media Luigi Negrelli

A quick flight to Verona, two trains and I'm ready for my next stop in the North of Italy: Merano.

My second observation visit is at Scuola Media Luigi Negrelli, set in the South Tyrol.

This is a small junior high school with approximately 300 students aged 11-14 years.    In today’s lesson, I am with a class of 18 students aged 13 years.  This classroom has Samsung SMART school which means that each student has their own device in class, but the classroom is also equipped with a large screen which can ‘communicate’ with the different devices.   This school has chosen to assign their devices to a particular group of students and this means the students can take the devices home too. The CCL teacher in this school is Paolo Soldani, but in today’s lesson I am with one of his colleagues.  The teacher has only just started with work the scenario development process this year.  Today, the students are at the ‘create’ phase of the scenario.

The focus of the lesson is different cultures.  The students are working in groups of 3 and each group will create a presentation on a particular country: UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.    The students will use Polaris office to create their product.   The students will work on this for two lessons and then present their work to other students.  The teacher has prepared some assessment criteria for the end product, but at present these are paper based.   

Whilst the students are creating one single product and sitting together, they are becoming experienced at some collaborative learning.  The students know what they have to create by the end and soon divide up who is “researching” each part. 

This teacher is new to the methodology of the scenario development and one of the most critical points is the need to plan smaller tasks or activities within the learning story.  It is essential for the teacher to give each phase lesson outputs as well as lesson outcomes.  For example, in this scenario, the students are creating a presentation, but in this lesson, the students would perhaps have benefitted from a planning template to create key questions.     This would encourage them to find answers and identify significant information, rather than copying and pasting text.  Subsequently, this would then develop their presentation skills along the way. 

  • What writing templates do you give your students?
  • How do you encourage your students to collaborate?
  • What kinds of activities enable students to collaborate?
  • When do you give the criteria for the assessment?
  • What effective smaller tasks or learning activities can support the final product development?
  • How do your assessment criteria consider all the different phases of the learning process?

At the end of the lesson, I just have time to see a couple of the groups share their progress – they have made a promising start and are beginning to articulate their research.  It will be great to see what the final presentations look like.

Next Stop: Portugal