How will countries across Europe continue to make best use of blended learning in their classrooms?
That’s the question addressed by Co-Learn, our latest Erasmus+ project looking at blended learning delivery and pedagogy across Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the UK and the Netherlands. CLC’s Caitlin McMillan considers what that question involves.
Last week saw us get together (fittingly, in a blended fashion) for our first project meeting.
We were hoping to make it to Delft, but Covid-19 had other ideas, so the Dutch and Danish delegations got together in Delft and the rest of us joined in remotely.
There were many fruitful discussions and takeaways from the week, with teachers from all participating countries agreeing that holding onto the positives of the last year – the upskilling of teachers, contact with parents, stronger relationships built with pupils – are important to hold onto. We talked about school closures (and lack of), digital inequality, student wellbeing, and a whole host of other subjects that were at the front of the minds of all of the participating teachers.
As part of the project, schools will take part in action research projects to explore the advantages and possibilities of blended learning. The proposed action research topics say a lot about what participating teachers see as the future of blended learning, and they resonated with what we’re hearing from UK classrooms. You can expect more from us, as well as responses to some of these questions, as the project evolves.
Five questions European teachers are asking about blended learning
1. How can children have ownership of their learning?
In some ways, children have had more ownership over their learning than ever before during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Teachers observed that quieter children were sometimes more participatory and interactive during remote sessions, and that children had more opportunity to follow their interests and passions. This question proposes investigating what ‘ownership’ means in a learning context, and how technology can help everyone to be heard.
2. How can teachers use blended learning to create differentiated learning in the classroom?
Teachers have learned a huge amount about technology-enhanced learning in the past year. This question focuses on what support teachers might need in order to be able to use technology effectively for differentiated learning both at home and in school.
3. Can maintaining the dialogue developed between teacher and pupil during the lockdown continue to benefit learning outcomes?
For pupils, as for us all, the social environment changed enormously during school closures. The digital space offered a forum for pupils to engage with one another and with their teachers, allowing for more personalised dialogue and the expansion of classroom relationships. For some pupils, an online chat function proved a safer space to interact and ask questions than putting a hand up in class. This question suggests exploring the ways in which these relationships have developed, and looking at how technology can help us to maintain the positive elements built during lockdowns.
4. Can a virtual teaching presence be effective even in a physical school environment?
All participating schools agreed that teacher presence was a core component of making remote learning effective, but could a virtual presence also be effective in the classroom? This proposal entailed teachers running individual lessons over video conferencing while a TA was in the classroom with the children. Would it work better for some subjects than others? What kit would pupils need in order to engage effectively? This question hopes to identify opportunities and obstacles in the remote learning environment.
5. How can a blended approach to feedback help both pupils and teachers?
As a group, we settled on this investigation for our first piece of action research.
Alongside our partner schools, we will explore how student-teacher feedback and dialogue can be supported by technology, how technology can enhance peer-to-peer feedback and whether digital communities of practice can enhance student learning.
Watch this space for more information about how we and the other Co-Learn countries investigate feedback in school. We’ll be working on it ahead of (hopefully!) a trip to Denmark in February where we can share findings.
One more thing
One of our challenges over the course of the programme week was to design a ‘school of the future’ in Co-Spaces. We were reminded of how good it is as a tool, and also had a chance to explore updates and new features.
Maths and digital technology forum for primary teachers
The maths forum provides an opportunity for maths subject leaders to share their expertise and investigate new opportunities for digital technologies to support maths teaching and learning in class and online at home. The forum combines discussion with colleagues about school-wide progress in mathematics, with hands-on activities led by a CLC teacher, demonstrating how technology can be used to support maths. Activities will include programming in Scratch 3, which offers a practical way to illustrate and explore key mathematical concepts such as shape, space, position and direction.
Using technology to enhance assessment and feedback in primary schools
Discover how digital technology can change the way we assess pupils’ work. We will demonstrate how teachers can use technology to monitor, evidence and respond to pupils’ progress in school and learning online remotely, and how pupils can use technology to present and reflect on their learning. We will outline a range of approaches to help assess and evidence learning across the curriculum.
For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.
The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.
The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities.
Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm.
Project work undertaken in school - October and November.
Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.
The Garden Museum
The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.
Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.
How are they planted?
How do they spread?
What is inside them?
The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.
These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.
There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
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