COMENIUS-PROJECT by asafwewe

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									NEWSLETTER OF THE COMENIUS
   SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT
         PROJECT
       2004 - 2007

                       COMENIUS PROJECT
     “Developing strategies for effective and inclusive learning”
                                     Year 1 – 2004/2005




           Hammartun Barneskole - Lillehammer - Norway




“Developing strategies for effective and inclusive learning” is a school developing
project. The participant countries are England, Finland, Greece, Italy, Romania and
Norway.

During the autumn 2004 we exchanged information about the schools and countries, the
project web-site was planned and we learned to know each other through e-mails,
pictures, CD’s and christmas greetings.
The schools also made presentations on how the different nations take care of children
with special needs.

Project meetings.
 In February 2005 we all met for the first time in Nilsia in Finland. Outside it was
cold and dark, but the teachers and pupils at Ukko-Paavon Primary School welcomed us
with warm and genuine hospitality.
The meeting was very well prepared and during this first meeting we learned to know
each other, we learned about the Finnish school system and we experienced how the
teachers at Ukko-Paavon Primary School , and other schools in the area, worked .
We noticed that children with severe handicaps go to special schools, but children with
minor learning difficulties are included and taught in small groups or in full classes.
We also noticed how well the school cooperated with the local library and how they
focused on reading skills.




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 In the end of May we met again in Halkidona in Greece. The weather was warm and
sunny and all the teachers and pupils at Halkidona Primary School did whatever possible
to make us feel welcome and comfortable.
The friendliness and hospitality seemed to be endless.
We met some new project members and we experienced that the project really
contributes to make friends with colleagues in different parts of Europe.
We noticed that the project involved most teachers and pupils at Halkidona primary
School. The pupils had a welcoming ceremony with traditional songs and dances. Several
classes had prepared projects on the participant countries and they were really proud
when they presented the work.
In Greece children with severe handicaps go to special schools while children with minor
learning difficulties are included in ordinary classes.

In Greece our little book about educating children with special needs was presented. All
the participating nations have contributed with an article on how they work with
children with documented special needs.

How has the project - so far - affected our school ?

Teachers.
 At Hammartun Barneskole we have established a project group with 6 members. So
far 4 of us have participated in project meetings.
 We have learned a lot about school systems in different parts of Europe
 Our knowledge about teaching and pedagogical methods has increased.
 We have learned a lot about geography, history and culture in the countries we have
visited.
 We have got new friends and colleagues. We feel we are part of a network with
colleagues in different parts of Europe.
 We have got opportunity to practice English, and experienced the importance of
knowing a foreign language.
 The teachers who are not - yet - directly involved with the project have learned
about the work through presentations with pictures, videos, music and information.
Most teachers are getting more enthusiastic about the project and they are looking
forward to host a project meeting next year.
 We have all experienced that modern technology makes information and
communication with colleagues in other countries easy.

 Pupils.
 Most pupils at our school have not been directly involved with the project yet.
 They know about the project through information and exhibitions of - for instance -
Christmas cards. Some of the teachers have presented textbooks from Finland and
Greece in the classes.



                       Comenius School Development Project 2004 - 2007
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 Some pupils have sent drawings and greetings to other project schools. They have
got an opportunity to communicate in English.

Parents.Parents have been informed about the project through the school web-site and
meetings in parents’ council. They are enthusiastic and find it useful and interesting for
the school to participate in international cooperation.




       Scoala nr. 23 Sfantul Silvestru, Bucharesti - Romania




The plan of activities of the project included two project meetings: at Nilsia in Finland
and at Halkidona in Greece with the following objectives:
 Comparing aspects of teaching – learning methods.
 Finding the coordinates of creating equal chances (teaching – learning for children
with special needs).
The two project meetings and the permanent exchange of ideas and opinions during
project year (by e-mail) have had a great and fruitful impact on the participants,
schools and communities as well.

Some specifications ought to be made:

Teachers:
 Sharing experience from the point of view of the teaching – learning methods, of
the quality of the results for teachers and students as well.
 A website with all the documents of the project has been created (including the
curriculum and their particularities in different countries).
 Discussing the students’ extra-curricular activities (ways of being put into practice
and contents).
 Ways of solving the problems of the pupils with special needs (for those who are
inside the inclusive teaching and for those who are in special teaching schools).
 Enriching cultural and European experience.
 Last but not least, making European friends and developing new links.
Students:
 The activities the students took part in have induced the feeling and awareness of
belonging to the European Community.
 Having been with teachers from six countries and having their opinions and
appreciation about their activity gave them confidence in the quality of these activities;


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on one hand, the interest in children with special needs rose among the school pupils,
induced them an attitude of tolerance and understanding, of being more cooperate, on
the other hand they have become more prepared for a change in approach and
behaviors. As for the children with special needs they have grown more able to
understand and achieve different ways of life and communication as a state of
normality.
They are getting more and more confident in the results of their work and in their own
existence.

School:
 Sharing and achieving new experience by each teacher, enriches and enlarges, their
own view, makes them more flexible, more “European”.
 The solutions applied in different countries, the carried strategies for the inclusive
teaching as well as the way the problems of the children with special needs have been
approached could be solutions for the Romanian teaching (adapted to the particularities
and specific conditions inside the Romanian schools and curriculum e.g. improving school
management and the quality of education).

Community:
 Trying to find the proper methods to evaluate and appreciate each pupil as an
individual with specific qualities and defaults, to make teaching more creative according
to the particularities of all those participating and to this process; to reform the
environment and milieu in which the students are to learn, in which a way they feel they
belong to it – as a basis for social cohesion.
This should be a priority for the local community. In this respect the project team in
Romania have already disseminated the activities of the project inside the local
community the school belongs to.




                 Primary school of Chalkidona - Greece




      “Developing strategies for effective and inclusive learning”

During our first acquaintance with the project we specially focused on active
participation of all students and particularly of those with special educational needs. In
this programme 9 teachers took part, 4 men and 5 women. Also 146 students of the



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second, third, fourth and sixth grade (76 girls and 66 boys) participated in this project.
The age range was 8-11 years old.
Concerning the impact and conclusion of the first year’s completion of the project, we
noticed:

Students: During the project children took several actions such as the making of
greeting cards and the participation in a plan called “We adopt a European country”.
In that way children became investigators and through internet, encyclopaedia, books
and magazines managed to collect characteristic elements about the countries that
each group “adopted” during the project. Therefore, they came closer to other
European countries, became more open to other cultures, got a further interest of
foreign language and developed an awareness and sense of belonging to the wide
European community, a community that can use a lot common characteristics to build a
strong binding. In that way students felt ownership of the project and became able to
work in groups. They used their motivation and wide interest to help children with
special educational needs to cooperate. Children’s’ work was presented to the visitor
teachers of the foreign schools and in that way they had the opportunity to present
elements of our culture and civilization. They sang traditional songs and danced
traditional dances. They tried to develop a capability of discussion and through that an
awareness and acceptance of the different ways of living, thinking and communicating.
They established new friendships, showed mutual trust and solidarity. This became an
important impulse to their self-confidence, especially to children with special
educational needs.

Teachers: The project had a positive impact not only for students but for teachers as
well. During the first meeting in Nilsia an exchange and comparison of different
aspects, points of view and educational methods have been made. Not only we achieved
(here in our school) an improvement in the use of the English language but we had a
first picture of other countries’ cultures as well. Moreover we improved the use of new
technologies and the way we cooperate. We also developed motives for further
improvement concerning teaching strategies. We created (showed in our first meeting
in Nilsia) a CD that includes information about our country, educational system and
special education in Halkidona. Furthermore, under the supervision of the Finnish school
all teachers-members of the project created a website were all our material is
available. Also, by e-mails we were exchanging aspects about interesting educational
issues. During the second meeting, further conversation and exchange of new ideas
were achieved. There, we developed a further collaboration and a belief that despite
our “differences” we all are members of the same European community.

School: Our school's programme was improved and became more flexible. Some of the
new approaches we tried were, teaching lessons in an intercultural way and rescheduling
methodology and teaching procedures. Specifically we paid attention to issues that
involve students with special educational needs such as how we can give equal


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opportunities to all students. Teachers and school administration showed a useful
collaboration in order to “predict” and solve any problem.

Local community: Parents were acquainted to the project by the teachers, showed a
positive behavior and gave a great help. During the second meeting visitor-teachers
went to other educational institutes in Halkidona (Kindergartens, Secondary school,
Upper Secondary school, the school for children with special educational needs in
Gianitsa. All teachers were willing to show visitors around and answered all questions.
The cultural club in Halkidona performed traditional dances to visitors and the mayor
welcomed them and informed them about our hometown. Also our participation in the
project was advertised through local paper.
Finally we all agreed that so far this project opens new horizons to teachers and
students concerning the educational area and moreover gives an impulse for establishing
new friendships.




                   Ukko Paavon koulu - Nilsia - Finland




The meaning of the project to the school of Ukko-Paavo and its’
staff.

We have, together with my colleagues, noticed the positive impact of the Comenius-
project in our school. The pupils have learned to face people from other countries in a
natural way. They have learned to use the learned foreign language in every day
situations. Since the beginning of the correspondence with the pupils of the partner
schools, language learning has continued with new enthusiasm.

During the project, we have enhanced the meaning of special education in our own
school. For the week when the teachers visited Nilsiä, we found out information about
the special schools in which there are pupils from Nilsiä. The image we got from the
special schools in Kuopio added to our confidence and pride of how the children, who
need special attention, are taken care of in Finland.

Other arrangements have demanded a great deal of co-operation between the teachers
also. The succeeding of the week of the visits was important to all teachers and it
turned out to be a week of festivities in the middle of winter. In addition, the week was


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a great language learning course both to us and the guests. The major improvement of
lingual skills is expected because of at least five more meetings.

When a teacher compares the work s/he does to the work of a teacher from another
country, it is easy to find similarities and differences. Advantages can be found from
everyone and disadvantages are easier to mend. We Finns should be proud of the
freedom our teachers have to do the work independently, the parents appreciate the
work of the teachers and we have no pressure caused by the school inspectors. The
teachers can influence the curricula and choose the methods they use. The relationship
between teachers and pupil is straightforward, the schools are well equipped, the
transportation to school and the school lunch are free, and teaching handicrafts is our
speciality.

Because of the project we have developed our information technology skills, because
one of the topics of the project is to use information technology in teaching.

We have been keen to spread the information about other European schools to the
schools in our surrounding areas and our guests got a change to see other schools than
our own as well. The board of education supports our project and also encourages us to
international co-operation.

To me, the teacher in charge of the project, this work has had an enormous impact. The
amount of knowledge about education and teaching has multiplied, language skills have
improved, confidence in my own work has grown and the urge to develop the work I do
has increased. I hope that this can be seen also in my pupils in the near future.




             I.C. Giovanni XXIII Vedano al Lambro - Italy




At the end of the first year of the project we are going to reflect on what results are
being achieved in our school.

Evidence of effects on :

Teachers
Undoubtely the teachers directly involved in the project have been able to benefit from
the contacts with the world outside the school, especially by:


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-      consulting with the European colleagues
-      comparing different teaching approaches and methods
-      discussing about best practices in inclusive education
-      visiting schools and meeting pupils and their teachers
-      experiencing various aspects of the cultural heritage of the host countries

Power Point presentations and material available in the school website also were
provided to inform the rest of the staff working in the school about the meetings and
the activities of the project.

Pupils
Children in the classrooms received detailed reports of the meetings from their
teachers. Group works were activated within the curriculum to stimulate them to gather
information about the countries involved in the project. SEN pupils were encouraged to
partecipate with the support of the specialized teachers and classmates.
Planned activities aimed at promoting a European attitude developing a better
understanding of the way of life in some European countries, focused to identify key
elements of difference among their education systems.
Solicitate children to activate strategies to communicate with peers in a foreign
language; this happened through exchanging of e-mail messages and ordinary
correspondence between classes of similar aged pupils.

Community
The educational community became aware of the project during meetings and
exhibitions in the school.
Parents expressed their appreciation and hope there will be the real possibility to have
future visits and personal exchanges between children.
Dissemination of the results has been achieved through the information provided from
the school website and the publication of a newsletter.




              Stanbridge Primary School, Downend – UK




We have been fortunate in finding 5 partner schools (and head teachers) that are
enthusiastic, reliable and with staff who are committed to co-operative working and the
objectives of the project.




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Project activities undertaken in our school.

   1. Written synopsis of SEN provision in both UK and Stanbridge submitted to all
      partners.
   2. Teachers prepared written pen pictures to partner schools as a preliminary
      activity prior to the establishment of working teams and partnerships.
   3. Teachers worked with their own pupils to design, develop and produce a short
      video presentation to give partner schools an impression of a typical school day.
   4. Teachers completed written assignments on the theme of SEN and submit to the
      webmaster for further dissemination.
   5. The school was responsible for the collation of written reports about SEN from
      each country and the production of a commentary/handbook written in English,
      Greek, Romanian, Italian, Norwegian and Finnish.
   6. Teachers regularly communicate with each other via e-mail to discuss their work
      and potential developments for the future.
   7. Ongoing teacher collaboration has resulted in a sharing of teaching & learning
      activities such as data gathering for a weather study, using best practice ideas
      from other countries (e.g. a newspaper week from Finland, plasticine modelling of
      our local vicinity as part of a geography project that enables all pupils to
      participate at their own level – taken from work observed in Greece.
   8. Teachers use examples from text books from other schools (Mathematics from
      Greece) to reinforce learning concepts.

   The school contributed to a variety of end projects, but the very nature of our
   work meant that this was very much a joint and shared outcome with our partners
   rather than something that was just “Stanbridge specific”. Such end products have
   included:
   1. Video presentation about school life. All partner presentations have now been
       collated into a single CD-rom by the Romanian partner.
   2. Brief synopsis of our Special Needs teaching methods – now published on the
       project website by the Finnish partner.
   3. Special Needs Information handbook –
   4. PowerPoint presentations of each project meeting that has been used to share
       the outcomes and flavour of the visit with our own teachers but also with a wider
       audience within the LEA and regionally.

The project has not resulted in any organisational arrangements in school. However,
what is currently apparent are the raised levels of awareness of the children about life
and education in other countries, particularly when they are able to compare and
contrast their own work with similar projects in our partner schools.

Staff have a real incentive to build on their existing ICT skills to enable them to
communicate effectively with their partner teachers via e-mail and also to use ICT as


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an effective means of communication with a wider audience (E.g. PowerPoint
presentations).

Community
a) Written reports have been shared with the whole school – teachers, parents and
governors.
b) A short synopsis of the planning and development of the project was prepared for
publication and then wider dissemination in a best practice booklet to be produced by
the South West International Education Network (SWIEN)
c) PowerPoint presentations of each project meeting that has been used to share the
outcomes and flavour of the visit with our own teachers but also with a wider audience
within the LEA and regionally.




The purpose of this newsletter is to inform the school community about the results of the
project.


This newsletter was compiled and produced by I.C. Giovanni XXIII Vedano al Lambro - July 2005




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