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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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Cheating with tablets is a great way to collaborate and communicate.

My morning begins with a very early train ride from Prague to Ostrava almost on the border of Poland.  This morning I am at Gymnazium Hladnov a Jazykov├í ┼íkola with CCL project teacher Iva Skybova and her 33 students aged 17-18 years for Mathematics.

The lesson takes place in a new science lecture area laid out in fixed rows.  The students sit in rows of three or four.  At the moment, there are only 13 devices in school, so the students share one device per row. 

  • What are the challenges when students have to share devices?
  • How can you organise the students to allow everyone access to the technology?
  • Are their particular apps that work well when students have to share devices?

The lesson begins with the teacher using three questions in Socrative to revise some key points from the previous lesson.  Today’s topic is vectors.  The teacher then demonstrates the answers in Geogebra.  The teacher invites one student to the dry wipe board to show how they had worked out an answer.  The teacher gives the students several more questions and they are encouraged to work out answers on paper and discuss them in their groups. 

After the students have tried to work out a solution, the teacher connects one group to Apple TV to share their work with the rest of the class.

In the next part of the lesson, the teacher introduces the students to an app which is a simple vector calculator.  The students are able to put in the coordinates and it will plot them automatically.  The students then have to work out some examples.  The teacher asks questions and identifies particular students to respond.  The teacher ends the lesson by showing the student a flash animation that she has placed on Moodle to support the students with their learning.

In the second period of the morning, some of the students share what they have been doing in their CCL scenario on collaboration.  The students explained that they were given three weeks to create a ‘cheat sheet’ on mathematical solid shapes.  The idea was that the ‘cheat sheet’ would be one single A4 page that could be used by other students during a test.  The rule was that the students were not allowed to take images or information from the internet; they had to write the information and take any photos themselves.  Students used Skitch to work with the diagrams and annotate photos. (This is a great idea that could be replicated across lots of other subjects – not just mathematics.)

Students had to work within groups organised by the teacher and because the students were also in another class, this meant they had to complete the task outside lesson time too.  The students agreed to store all their work on Microsoft ‘One-Drive’.  At home, the students made a group on Facebook messenger and divided up the tasks.  They have to decide:

Who is going to make the shapes? Who is going to create some pictures for the photos? Who is going to write the text?

One student reflected that “It was quite difficult because suddenly we had to work with people who we didn’t know very well.  I don’t normally do as much after class, but for this, I had to do my task to make sure I had something for my group.”  The task itself ensured that the students had to communicate and collaborate.  The process of student reflection is part of the CCL scenario development planning and it has really helped the students to think about their responsibilities for their learning.

  • What opportunities to you give your students to reflect on their progress?
  • How do you capture evidence of the student reflections?
  • How do you organise your students so that they can work across different groups?

The second school visit is to Primary and Lower Secondary School Hanspaulka.   This school has approximately 600 students from 6-15 years. Today I am with CCL project teacher and ICT teacher Daniel Tochacek. This school has implemented a number of devices over the last two years; there are now 31 Android tablets in school, 15 Windows 8 tablets and 26 netbooks.  In addition, there are 30 tablets for teachers. One of the big decisions that this school made was to prioritise the access to the tablets to teachers first.  The school has benefitted from additional tablets through a national call in Prague.  (Call 51). 

This morning, I am with 10 and 11 year old students for their introductory lesson to tablets.  The teacher gives the students a whistle stop tour around some of the main features of the tablet.  Some students have devices at home and they are extremely confident with using the different tools.    The teacher covers a lot of different features during the lesson, the pace is fast, but it gives students a quick overview so that they can have an awareness when they start using the tablets in other lessons.

  • How do different teachers in your school introduce the students to using tablets?
  • What is the best way to introduce the tablet in class?

In the second lesson of the morning, I work with a history teacher.  The teacher begins the lesson by hanging up a large world map on the wall.  The students have a paper version of the map and they can also access this on their tablet.  The idea is that the students can consider what happened when Germany attacked France and Scandinavia in the Second World War.  The teacher sends the students a series of weblinks via email.  The first is to a map on Padlet.  The world map has labels but these are not in the correct place.  The students have to match the labels and move them.  Each group has a different map, so each pair of students has a different problem to solve. 

In the second part of the lesson, the teacher gives the students access to a map of Britain via Google Drive.  The students locate the map.  The teacher explains to the students that Hitler decided to use aircraft for the battle with Great Britain because Britain was strong and “air war” was likely to be more effective.  The students also have to find out who was the King of England at the time of the Second World War and what RAF stands for. (Royal Air Force.)

The teacher ends the lesson by sharing a comical video with the students looking at the challenges facing the pilots who could not speak English. 

  • What opportunities have your students had to work with students from another school or local University?

 This school has used the CCL scenario process on school to school collaboration to develop a link with the Department of ICT, Faculty of Education at Charles University.  The University students prepared materials to share with the students in school on how to build robots.  The younger students then had to do the building and programming of the robots.  This took place over almost 3 months.  Students liked being mobile with the tablets and communicating with each other.

These two schools show that teachers in the Czech Republic have made positive steps to introduce tablets into learning and teaching; it is good to know that the Creative Classrooms Lab project has been part of the developments. 

So, that’s it, my journey to 22 schools across 8 countries to observe and document the real use of tablets in schools is now complete.  I hope that you have found the blog helpful and you can see that everyone is at different stages in the implementation of tablets.  You can also see the blogs from the teachers in the project in the Community section of the website. Finally, the MOOC for the Creative Classrooms Lab project begins on 13th April 2015 and there is still time to register.  (You can do that here – and it is free!)  It will be a great opportunity to exchange practice on the use of tablets from all over the globe.

  • Have you registered for the MOOC?

Next Stop: Home! – University of Wolverhampton