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Schools in action - Visiting iTEC pilot schools in Hungary

iTEC Pilot school in HungaryAll iTEC partners’ greatest wish probably is to see in a real classroom, under real conditions, how iTEC learning stories are actually implemented and how these abstract descriptions of actions, tools and roles are realised. The Hungarian national coordinators had exactly this opportunity and task, when they visited the three case study teachers in their schools and observed their lessons in November 2011. After the lesson interviews were recorded with all stakeholders of the project. What we found were different circumstances, different problems and three skilful practices.

First we visited a school in Székesfehérvár, which has an English class with a tiny group of 9th grade pupils who are the beneficiaries of a program for gifted, but socially disadvantaged children. Children are highly motivated if they can use digital tools: it is a reason for their teacher to overcome technical challenges. The aim of the pupils’ project is to learn how to describe houses and express wishes and assumptions in English. Children take photos of buildings in rural and urban areas and use these images to describe, discuss and present attributes of properties. They use file sharing tools, collaborative documents, chat and presentation editing tools. Works are collected in an online portfolio.

Our second visit took us to Szeged, to a Social Studies class. The school is one of the most prestigious institutions of the town and the visited 12th grade class is specialized in humanities, so they show a high level of understanding and motivation in Social Studies. In the focus of the project is the “elite”, a topic which pupils brought up after a sport match against the rival local elite school, where both parties fled into passion. The aim of the project is to create a questionnaire about elitism and about the local conflict of schools, gather data and analyze them. The class visited a university lecturer to set the theoretical basis of the investigation. In the classroom they rely on the newly acquired student laptops and classroom management software. They use the school’s Learning Management System (LMS) for sharing and to work collaboratively on documents, learners’ response system and an online survey tool. 

At the third school, based in Budapest, we could follow a Science class with 10th graders. The school has an innovative pedagogical praxis; the children have average social backgrounds and abilities.  Pupils in the iTEC project learn about rocks. According to the teacher’s impressions this topic is generally boring for children, they show little interest for the attributes and categorization of rocks. The challenge of the project is to motivate children and to make the best out of this hard topic. Pupils take pictures about rocks in the city and try to define them. They interviewed a stone-cutter and during that they shot a film. They use digital learning resources, an online LMS site for file sharing, mind-mapping tool, presentation making software and film cutting software.

It was good to see the expertise of teachers who created their own absolutely individual variants of the standard abstract learning stories. We agreed that all of them fulfilled the learning goals, and wonder how many fantastic projects have been or are being realised around iTEC countries. We look forward to know about them!

Article by Ildikó Csordás, Educatio

Picture: iTEC class at SZTE Ságvári Grammar School, Szeged