It was the 13th of December when the last group of this wonderful year arrived in Bologna, ready to start a course on ICT. The participants came from different cities of Greece and were eager to learn all about the latest technologies and applications to use in the education field. The first thing we did was to present ourselves to the rest of the classroom to better bond as a group. Secondly the teacher proposed a survey to understand the needs and expectations of the groups in order to tailor the course to their goals and necessities. What emerged was an overall interest for tools to create engaging presentations and video lessons.
In this delicate period of pandemics it may be of great use the implementation of online lessons with virtual whiteboards. This is the reason why we decided to introduce this topic into our class! The group learned how to carry on an online lesson and share it with the rest of the participants. Going on with the class, the participants had the chance to discover an education technology platform that makes it easy to augment images, videos, and virtual tours with additional information and links. They practiced by creating their own “scene” with tags on it
Since the need to discover presentation tools was pivotal, we explored together two presentation applications that can be used as alternatives to PowerPoint. The group presented to the whole class their work while laughing and enjoying the atmosphere.
Another important topic was the world of video presentation, again using two different tools that allow them to add texts, images, stickers, music, links and much more to a video! The class had a lot of fun exploring the applications to create quizzes, in order to assess the knowledge of the students. We played together individually and in teams and later the group had the time to create their own quizzes to test with the others. The last topic we discovered was that of web design, interesting for those who wish to lay out their website for professional or personal reasons. It was the hardest part of the week but the group did not gave up! They created very different designs and blogs to show the rest of the class
The week finished with a fun wrap up of all the tools we discovered together and the certificate ceremony to celebrate the knowledge learned.
The course was described by one of the participants as “a nice, friendly and innovative way to learn about teaching platforms and practice the knowledge you gained”.
Another year has passed, see you in 2022 with many other adventures :)
The society we live in is extremely diversified and, as teachers, one of our main goal is to try to address and teach diversity to our students. This was the focus of the course “Diversity in the classroom: teaching tolerance and overcoming prejudices and discrimination” that took place in the last week of November in Bologna, where we had the pleasure to welcome 8 participants form different parts of Europe (Spain, Germany, Romania, Sweden and Latvia) who shared their experience and tried together to answer to some key questions:
How do we differentiate learning? How do we adapt to different learning needs?
Who are our students and how do we communicate with them?
What are the main issues in our classroom?
Once we have a better understanding and awareness of our identity, what happens when we face diversity?
We explored how stereotypes can affect students’ life and how they often trap us in vicious cycle. Through some practical example and the storytelling technique, we saw how stereotypes evolve into judgments and discrimination.
After that, participants had the chance to discuss about two key concepts: awareness and respect. The glasses through which we perceive the world are a product of our identity and the reality is different depending on which glasses we are wearing. We saw through some exercises how often we put labels without even be conscious of that, and how often the reality is different from our perception.
Through many group activities and simulations, we investigated how different values can be and the crucial link between value and culture. As teachers, one of our task is to stress the complexity of communication, helping students to develop critical thinking and a positive attitude to better understand diversity.
Another topic that was analyzed was “membership”: how do we behave when we belong to a group? We experienced what does it mean to be excluded and how difficult it is to include others into our dynamics. We learned through the gig saw method what goose know about collaboration: it’s easier to fly together!
Finally, the last chapter of the course was about empathy: The capacity of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, using this information to guide thinking and behavior. We dug into feelings and emotions, fostering teachers to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Being aware of our emotions is crucial but it’s important as well to train ourselves and the students to express them.
More info on these courses at: https://www.erasmustrainingcourses.com/teaching-diversity.html.
On the first day of class, we asked our new group of 14 teachers the following question: what would you see going on in a classroom in which there is a supportive climate for students? As we started diving into the topic of the week, we asked our participants to reflect on their classroom experiences. If given the opportunity to create your “perfect classroom”, how would you create it? Which characteristics would it have?
How to reach this perfect balance, though? What tools, strategies and attitudes can they use to become great managers of their classes?
Having defined our end goal, participants worked hard during the week to fill their toolbox of skills and practical ideas useful to reach it. Starting from Social Emotional Learning, the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. By testing some activities together, participants recognized it as a major factor able to improve the classroom environment by creating a more tolerant and supportive atmosphere.
In order to be more inclusive and welcoming toward diversity, the group later explored four ways through which they can better diversify their teaching: Content (what the student learns), Process (how the student learns), Product (how the student demonstrates learning) and Environment (where the student learns). The activity performed to approach these four aspects was called “learning stations”: in each station, one of the four topics above mentioned was discussed in a different way. This activity was much appreciated because it gave lots of different inputs and ideas to bring back to their classes.
The fourth part of the course was focused on communication, especially investigating the difference between fixed and growth mindset. After being put to test and challenged on the assumptions they had about their own mindsets, the group analyzed the characteristics of what is called “growth mindset” and put their knowledge to practice by doing some group exercises.
More info on this course at: https://www.erasmustrainingcourses.com/classroom-management.html