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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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Content Creation and Experimenting with Tablets in Science and English

My third observation visit was to the five schools in Belgium Flanders who are involved in the Creative Classrooms Lab project.  The teachers have been working on a learning scenario that looks to enable content creation. 

Middenschool van het GO! Ieper

CCL project teacher: Philip Everaerts

During the four day visit, I have opportunity to spend time in all five schools, but for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to write about three of the schools.  My first visit is to Middenschool van het GO! Ieper. The school has 189 students aged 12 -14 years.  The school has 25 iPads and these are now being used by several teachers across different areas of the curriculum. 

Philip Everaerts is the CCL project teacher.  The students have ‘Active Learning with ICT’ for 2 hours a week.  The students have been introduced to the work of the CCL project and understand the different stages.   Dream - Explore- Map - Make - Ask - Remake - Show. The teacher has created new digital learning resources and activities for each aspect of the learning story.  The students have to create their own iBook about communication over a series of lessons using creative book builder. The students can access the activities as an iBook.   The teacher has created videos for the students to watch and then copy the same tasks.   One of the advantages of the different sections is that the teacher can organise the students so that they are able to rotate through some of the activities over a number of weeks.  This means that the students can organise their own learning and work at their own pace.  The students get a list of competencies at the beginning of the task and they know are going to be scored against these. (Maximum of 4 points)   One of the tasks involves the students making their own Perspex cell phone holder. (Produced by Technotrailer) The students have to watch the video and heat the different folds in the Perspex.    Every lesson begins with a briefing so that the teacher can assess the students’ progress.  Philip has also defined the APPS that the students will use for each task; however, he now believes that it would be effective to give the students opportunities to identify their own APPS and to become more responsible for deciding the format of the outputs for their actual tasks.

  • Do all your students produce final outputs in the same format/application?
  • How do you enable students to work at their own pace?
  • What criteria do you give to the students prior to the task?

TechnOV Vilvoorde

CCL project Teacher: Marc Deldime

The afternoon begins in the Chemistry lab.  There are just seven students aged 17 years old and this afternoon’s lesson is industrial sciences.  The students enter the room and put on their gleaming white coats.  Today’s task is to conduct an experiment that has been assigned to each individual student via the school learning environment.  Each student uses their device to access the instructions and begins to organise the equipment required.    The objective of the lesson is to look at the influence of catalysts on different chemicals.  The students examine how the starch separates into different sugars and reacts to the various enzymes, for example, dishwasher tablets, and saliva.  The students have all the steps on their tablets that they have to follow. Each student prepares with a Pyrex measuring jug, test tubes and a Bunsen burner.  The students also have to look up the health and safety codes on the products.    The teacher has created PDF template files, and the students have to document the different sections of their experiment, they are allowed to add photographs and gather additional evidence.  The students take photographs of each other for the different parts of the experiment.  The teacher also takes a photograph of the students working and sends it to the students via DisplayNote.  This software allows the teacher and the students to add annotations and then save these with the photo.  This is a simple, but effective way for the teacher to gather evidence.  It also enables the students to create a joint visual narrative of their work.   The students have until tomorrow to complete their report, and when it is finished they can add it to Dropbox. 

  • How can we encourage the students to be more independent learners
  • What are the benefits of providing templates?
  • How often do you use photographs/video evidence of the students within the lesson to demonstrate their understanding?

Sint-Augustinusinstituut Bree

CCL Project teacher: Jan Thoelen

Jan is the full time pedagogical co-ordinator in school and is based within an open learning centre; this is a separate building within the school that was opened over ten years ago to provide access to technology.  There are also smaller open learning centres in some of the classrooms in the main school building.    The school has 1030 students and approximately 160 members of staff.    The school has a steering committee for ICT involving the ICT Co-ordinator, pedagogical co-ordinator, headteacher, and the principal who meet every five weeks to discuss the development and implementation of technologies.   There have been 23 iPads in school for about the last 12- 18 months and the teachers can reserve these by box.  (5 ipads per box.)  WiFi is available throughout the school. The teachers themselves don’t have ipads but can borrow them from school. 

One of the most notable points is the size of the main teaching room in the open learning centre.  It is a huge space, (like a large school hall) that can be sectioned off with wooden separators.  In today’s lesson, the students begin in a horseshoe around the teacher who has access to an interactive whiteboard.  However, in the paired task, the students move to the space beyond the horseshoe, but can easily find a quiet space to create their resource.

Jan also does some team teaching where he can work with the staff together in the lesson.  Today’s lesson is with the English teacher who has been working with Jan to learn about the use of the app “Explain Everything.”  The teacher has asked the students to find a video on the internet to learn about the art of paper folding. (Origami)

This is a 50 minute lesson, the teacher has asked the students to bring an example of Origami to the lesson that they will be able to recreate.  The students have to then use “Explain Everything” to capture the process of making their folded shape.  The students can also add text/arrows on to each photo.  Finally, the students can go back and add voice.

  • What apps work well for enabling students to create content?

Students have been able to find a video on Youtube prior to the lesson.  e.g. Searching on Google “Folding with paper”.  One student has made a rabbit.  The student has copied the instructions from Youtube and now recreates these in the lesson recording each step.  Another group of students use a 10 Euro note (the size of the money is important for the ‘shirt’ that the boy is creating).  There is also a great example of a flying dragon /pterodactyl.  The students have to create between 9-15 slides as instructions.  The students have 25 – 30 minutes to create their video. Two students have chosen to make a boomerang.  Prior to the lesson they have worked together via Skype to discuss what they are going to do in lesson.  Some of the students have printed out the instructions and some of the students have written notes to remind themselves on notepaper; only one student has saved her instructions to her Google Drive at home and now accesses them again in the lesson.  She has a pdf. of the instructions to follow.

  • How do your students access learning resources prior to the lesson?
  • How can the students transfer files between school and home?
  • What opportunities do you give the students to prepare/extend their learning collaboratively?
  • How do students work together either before the lesson to prepare ideas or beyond the lesson to extend their learning?

So as I leave Belgium Flanders, the next challenge for these schools is to begin to plan the content for their second scenario.  It sounds like there will still be a focus on content creation, but with a need to consider how to build opportunities for collaboration between the students.

Next Stop: Austria