Students’ voices

The project aims at improving the approaches, teaching and learning methods towards students in primary, secondary and upper secondary schools of the four institutions. The project is coordinated by the service center of the city of Reykjavik. Each school has approached the project in unique manner in order to reach the common goals. The goals are to

  • empower the school systems, motivate students and help them in getting better academic outcomes
  • compare and define best practices related to teaching methods and organization of different educational systems
  • develop new learning and teaching approaches in an open and innovative dialogue with students, using teaching methodologies suited for the new Millenium generation
  • train teachers in using new methods, such as coaching and mentoring, to involve students and underline their own responsibility as learners
  • use outcomes of pilot training and ”Student Voices” analysis to suggest changes to curricula and teaching/learning approaches

The project is both innovative in its approach of constructing an open dialogue and involvement of students and teachers. It focuses on working with available structures in developing educational systems.

Each participating institution puts emphasis on such processes that, in their opinion, are the most important. Munkkniemi school and Ingrind Jespersens Gymnasieskole concentrate their effort on mathematics and science education thus working in alliance with the governmental policies of Finland and Denmark. Icelandic partners will also look into natural science education but they will also include English and Icelandic and thus assess the feasibility of implementing a new regulation on Icelandic education system allowing for more flexibility and making graduation possible after nine years in primary / secondary education. Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík focused on listening to students´ voices, mainly in chemistry, math, English and Icelandic. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyze the data and develop teaching methods.

The project offers a possibility to create a European network of teachers and students willing to participate in the democratic process of developing their educational system.


Kvennaskólinn i Reykjavik

Pilot teaching: New chemistry module autumn term 2018

Goals

To give students with sociology and humanities as major an opportunity to add to their knowledge in chemistry. Make a bridge between study lines. Enhance the interest in chemistry and natural science.

Students

In the beginning there were 15 students, 12 of them finished the course. They were 17 – 18 years old, in their 2nd-3rd year of school. Mostly girls. They had studied one module in chemistry before.

Schedule

The module counts for 5 units as is usual in Kvennaskólinn, that means work four hours/week for 16-17 weeks. Once a week we had a 2 hour lesson and twice per week a one hour lesson.

Methods

After listening to Lilja M Jónsdóttir´s (https://uni.hi.is/liljamj/) presentation at the project meeting in Reykjavík in May 2018 I decided to use Negotiating the Curriculum as the main method. Some say: Part of the power of implementing a negotiated curriculum is that it moves the learning space towards a democratic classroom, a place where students can advocate for themselves and their learning interests, goals and styles. The teacher negotiates with students regarding units of work and learning experiences. Programs offer students choice in forms of assessment, tasks, topics, subjects, units, coverage of knowledge and skills. Students’ suggestions are accepted and used in planning and their contributions are valued through verbal responses and classroom practices. Work units are modifiable by the teacher or learning support in response to individual needs.

(See: https://www.slideshare.net/iamshewang/negotiated-curriculum)

In accordance with our findings in the first phases of the project, where we asked students what they thought was the best method, I also decided to use many approaches to learning. Along with group work, presentations and laboratories I also used old fashioned lectures.

Evaluation of progress was made by the teacher, individual students and in groups. Students made written assignments for each other, the teacher corrected and evaluated both the assignments content as well as the outcome (For more information see: Negotiating the Curriculum. Educating For The 21st Century By Garth Boomer, Cynthia Onore, Nancy Lester, Jonathan Cook)

Diary

I decided to keep a diary during the semester to see what worked well and what did not. I also thought it would give me the possibility to do an action research or practitioner research in the future to continue the work started in the project Students Voices on how this method can be applied to chemistry teaching.

Examples from the diary

Wednesday 22.8 2018
Discussions about the 2 hours classes. The students do not like staying so late (until 16.40) they would rather do homework. We will consider that in the planning.

Wednesday 29.8 2018
Group-work for the assignment The atomic theory. Students got the questions from Negotiating the curriculum. Three groups, 4 in each. I decided who worked together, split up classmates and friends. That seems to be good, everybody working, interested and taking part.

Monday 3.9 2018
Finished the atomic theorem assignment, all groups had done their presentation/teaching. I had put the assignment papers in word and handed out a new version, they liked it. We used model clay to make models of atoms of different elements, that was fun.

Wednesday 19.9 2018
Laboratory – four stations, groups working on mole. This was fun. Understanding was good and everyone was participating – no complaints about the time. Double-hour is nice for labs.

24. – 27. 9 2018
Two students work together on two different assignments.
1. Translation from English, texts about chosen subject from the book „50 ideas you really need to know about Chemistry“.
2. Traditional test – homework. Teacher will „correct“

Monday 1.10 2018
Complaining – not enough time and to difficult English. Adjustments have to be made. I will read and help them get together the translation – they will then present it. Assessment is hard the students agree on that.

Wednesday 3. 10 2018
Visit to research laboratory for drugs-toxic- and forensic research at the University of Iceland. http://rle.hi.is/ Two hours=useful.

Learning goals outcome:

All the learning goals where fulfilled. The teacher was preoccupied with covering the learning goals and started to „take over“ the lessons. Less discussions where allowed in order to have time to cover more subject.

Out of the 12 students that finished the module four took another chemistry-module simultaneously and 5 decided to take more chemistry after finishing this one. That is 9 out of 12 thought it was worthwhile to study more chemistry. That has to be a little victory for a chemistry teacher.

Outcome:

The students answered a short survey about the course and the methods used. Not all students answered but those who did agree 100% on that diversity in teaching methods was essential for the learning outcome. 83% were happy or very happy with the module and 67% of those who answered thought that they had learnt a lot.

Regarding the teaching methods students were asked to choose the most used methods from a list of many different teaching methods. All choose the following four; group-work, individual assignments, laboratory and a method we called carousel. 50% thought that „caroulesse“ was the best method and 33% wanted that method to be used more often. The least favorate method and the one which students voted to eliminate was traditional black-board lecture, 50% of students did not like that.

Self-evaluation:

After having tried “Negotiating the Curriculum” which is a method best known to be used in social science I did go through the following list or description of the method to evaluate my own performance:

  • The teacher negotiates with students regarding units of work and learning experiences.
    I did my best and according to my diary many discussions were taken regarding timetable, tasks and evaluation of the work.
  • Programs offer students choice in forms of assessment, tasks, topics, subjects, units, coverage of knowledge and skills.
    This was the main focus on my behalf.
  • Students’ suggestions are accepted and used in planning.
    This I did as best I could, when time was running out I tended to “take over“ and start to teach “traditionally“, e.g. on the blackboard.
  • Student contributions are valued through verbal responses and classroom practices.
    I hope I did, it should have been one of the questions in the survey but it was not.
  • Work units are modifiable by the teacher or learning support teacher in response to individual needs.
    It was my intention to do so and I hope the students experienced that.

Links to reading material about teaching methods:

https://shelleygrayteaching.com/carousel/
https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/thinking-their-feet-instructional-carousels
https://www.educationcorner.com/developing-a-student-centered-classroom.html
https://www.educationcorner.com/learning-styles.html
https://www.amazon.com/Negotiating-Curriculum-Educating-21st-Century/dp/1850009376
http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/p7_6
https://www.queensu.ca/ctl/teaching-support/instructional-strategies/lab-based-learning
https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/The-Use-of-Laboratory-Method-in-Teaching-Secondary-School-Students-a-key-to-Improving-the-Quality-of-Education.pdf
https://www.slideshare.net/SciEd/edna-ta
https://www.slideshare.net/MandeepGill1/laboratory-method-43869766
https://www.sensepublishers.com/media/237-democratic-science-teaching.pdf

Description of the module in school curriculum:

https://www.kvenno.is/kvennaskolinn/afangar/afangi/?itemid=2008&id=2008

Geometry classes. Iceland. Kvennaskólinn í Reykjavík.

For several years in our school for mathematic lessons GeoGebra is used. Since students were mentioning in recent survey that they want to be active participants in classroom I decided to share with you one of many of projects that our students worked on semester. I made videos where step by step the concept was explained in ggb files (software GeoGebra) without sound and students’ assignment was to add the voice for the concept explanation. Students’ reasoning was documented through sound recording, screen recording and then they had to share with their peers and teacher. Some of their tasks you will find here below.

Various students volunteered to make wallpapers with GeoGebra about geometrical rules and theorems with proofs.

Some of the pictures you can see below.

EFNA2AE05; General Chemistry

Course Description: This course is aimed at learners of the Humanities- and Social Science Lines who have successfully completed the basic chemistry course EFNA1FH03 and want to expand their understanding of chemistry or those who aim at further studies, which require more extensive knowledge of chemistry. The core concepts covered in this course are the following; mole calculation, the concept of the mole, Avogardos number; chemical equations and ratio; solutions, concentration and precipitation; electronic configuration; chemical bonds, ionic-, covalent-, metallic- and polarized bonds; chemical reactions, acids and bases; oxidation and reduction; organic chemistry, the basis of the organic nomenclature.


Munkkiniemi school

Science and technology studies in Munkkiniemi school

The idea to develop science and technology studies as our project has its origins in one of our foreign sister schools. STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) was originally developed in the USA and it combines natural sciences and mathematics. It has multidisciplinary and phenomena in core and it is in use in many schools all over the world.
We didn’t plan to adapt a ready made model, but wanted to develop a model of our own that would fit in our system and meet the needs we had. From the very beginning our aim was to create a programme which would offer the students in our mathematics classes more opportunities in studying chemistry, biology, physics and geography.

The work began in autumn term 2017. The phase which we call ”planning and implementation” had three units:

  1. Curriculum level; the teachers searched for multisubject contents in the existing curricula of chemistry, biology, physics and geography to create a curriculum for science and technology studies. Also, a change in lesson distribution for 8th and 9th grade mathematics classes was accepted in the school’s leading group and the new curriculum for science and technology studies was verified in May 2018.
  2. The school hired a teacher to enhance the project. A group of teachers then planned lessons and also methods to be used in science and technology studies. The group also created a task bank based on the new science and technology curriculum.
  3. The government of Munkkiniemi Education Foundation decided to build a new classroom. The actual building work was preceeded by functional planning based on the teachers’ work on curriculum. The actual building took place in spring and summer 2018. The last phase was to furnish the classroom and provide it with all equipment needed.

The lessons began in the beginning of autumn term 2018. Group 8a now had an extra lesson a week in biology and chemistry so they had four instead of three lessons a week. They were also simultaneously taught by two teachers: a teacher in chemistry and a teacher in biology. The theme for the 8th grade was ”the human being”. The contents were mainly from biology and chemistry. The task bank had 26 different tasks. Teachers modify the tasks and, at the same time, create new materials. Assessment of science and technology studies is included in the assessment of biology and chemistry in the 8th grade. Learning and effort are evaluated. The students write laboratory diaries and produce other material to be assessed. They have also visited Aalto university, had visiting lecturers and visites companies like Suunto and Sitowise.

The main focus of the project was to make use of tasks and methods that would put the student into a new kind of studying situation, awake his curiosity to learn more and help him find similarities in different dsiciplines. The tasks and methods accordingly were planned so that whatever the outcome of the task, the students would learn and see different connections of the phenomena in question. So the knowledge they would gain could be more widely implemented in wider connections later on in their studies and life in general. Throughout the academic year the students made notes in their laboratory diaries. During the academic year they had more than twenty different topics ranging from growing up bakteria, studying the respiratory system of a sheep and preparing a heart of a sheep to building a model of an arm and studying the work of muscles.

The feedback from the students varied a lot. Most of them found science a technology studies both interesting and difficult. Some said that the tasks were demanding but that they enjoyed carrying them out. Some students would have preferred knowing better about next week’s task beforehand.

Both the teachers said that the amount of preparatory work for each lessons was great. The case will be different in the future when they find out where the students need most help and guidance.