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Animal world: the story of a little seal (Lithuania)

This story relates the experience of Vaida Kaikariene, an English teacher engaged in the cycle 4 of iTEC pilots (March-June 2013). It gives an overview on what happenned in the classroom and on the impact of these activities as analysed by Vaida. 

Vaida Kaikarienė is satisfied to participate in the iTEC project and using technologies in everyday teaching process. She thinks, that today improving technologies not only make teachers adapt to everchanging world, but also give more opportunities to work creatively, allow to create one's own teaching system, encourage appearance of new ideas and innovations.

At a glance

  • Localtion:  Klaipeda, Lithuania
  • School: Herman Zuderman gymnasium
  • Teacher: Vaida Kaikariene
  • Age of students: 10-11
  • The subject: English teacher for young learners
  • Piloted activities:  "Tell a story"

Lesson objectives 

Proposal : Working in groups and using ICT to gain knowledge about animal world, to develop learners' communication skills in reading, listening, writing and speaking and to create the story of a little seal.

A "walk-through" of the lesson

The topic and goals of the project are closely related to the educational module „Animals”. So students were taught across the curriculum. The idea to tell about a little seal occurred spontaneously when we heard about a pup seal born in the Lithuanian Sea Museum this spring. All the class (26 students) were involved in the project. The learning process was organised in subgroups of 12 and 14 students. The teacher introduced marking criteria, gave instructions and recommendations. Using “Teamup” tool they were divided into teams under different names: Explorers, Discoverers, Animal Lovers, and Animal Keepers.  Every group had their own tasks (see Popplet) :  to understand and give simple information about animals, ask and answer questions, give interesting facts about seals, find out information and tell about Lithuanian sea museum (animals, attractions and professions), get to know about the endangered Baltic Sea animals. With the help of IT, working in libraries, consulting English and class teachers, Sea Museum employees, the students gathered information on their topic. The students cooperated, helped to learn each other. The teacher‘s role during the project was changing. He was an organizer, tutor, facilitator. The teacher and the students continuously communicated and cooperated in both classroom and interactive learning surrounding. A large part of the learning process took place outside school, the students went to the Sea Museum, cooperated with experts. Every team discussed their gathered material, systemised, summarised and, presented their works. The presentations were followed by comments, self-evaluation and reflexion. The teacher gave feedback and evaluated the works. The students were introduced with story creating tools (MS PowerPoint, Knovio, StoryJumper) in the IT classroom. Using technologies, the students created their stories about the seal, suggested its name. The students presented their works, gave comments, got feedback from the teacher and were evaluated. The best students‘works were presented on the website. The project was presented to the school community and Sea Museum staff.

iTEC technologies and other tools used

iTEC Widget Store, Teamup, Popplet, SlideTalk, StoryJumper, Knovio, Dropbox, SounCloud, Audio, Video, Youtube, MS PowerPoint, MS Windows Movie Maker, Linoit.com, Jimdo.com, Wallwisher, ThinkBinder, iTEC group in Facebook, iTEC community, Google gmail, Google docs, IWB ActiveInspe, computers, mobiles, digital cameras, etc

Teacher feedback

The implementation of the learning scenario enabled us to work consistently, purposefully and effectively. The role of a teacher was transforming during the project. Students‘ learning opportunities were maximised. Students were active and motivated. The main emphasis was on the students‘obtained experience. They were involved in the learning process, were responsible not only for their learning results, but also their knowledge. IT, innovative learning methods such as cooperating and collaborating, discussions, outdoor studying, problem solving, productive and creative tasks helped to reach the goals of the project. 

During the project the students improved their IT skills, cooperation, critical thinking, creativity, communication, self-learning, problem solution skills, involvement and participation, as well as other learning results and communication skills in both English and Lithuanian languages because the project was integrated in the curriculum.

It is obvious, the project tasks and activities were rather difficult for all groups. Students had a challenge not only to create a story about the pup seal using technologies, but to get to know and explore the mysterious sea animal world as well. The students obtained new knowledge, learning results were perfect. 

I as a teacher appreciate this experience as well. The project emphasised close cooperation between the teacher and students. It was a challenge to me to be more precise and accurate while preparing for the lessons, to manage time precisely, foresee difficulties and possible problems, to provide help for my students on time. 

Students feedback

During the project students gained new experience:

  • Madlina: ... I learnt a lot about seals, learnt how to gather information. I especially liked the trip to the museum. 
  • Ramutė: ...It was interesting. I learnt more about seals, learnt to find information in various sources. The trip was really funny.
  • Eimantas: I mostly liked working in groups. It was interesting to see what others had done, their presentations
  • Evelina: I liked the trip. I liked to present our work, to listen to others. I liked working in groups, however, some were not very involved.
  • Jonas: The project gave a lot of knowledge, it was interesting.
  • Donatas: We learnt to work better with computers. This project was different from others. I liked working in groups.
  • Ieva: I learnt a lot from this project, would like to participate in such projects more.
  • Beatričė: It was more interesting and funnier than in the lessons.

Students liked the project very much.

Key innovations identified

Innovative teaching methods and technology based learning were used during the project. Technology transformed the role of the teacher and it allowed students become more independent in the classroom. Students developed XXI century skills. They were presented with modern untraditional learning surroundings and situations, in which they became active, creative and motivated participants. There is no doubt the learning process was engaging, exciting, effective, interesting and modern. 

Success factors

This project was one of the most interesting and successful in my practice. It was also unique. Innovative methods and technologies enabled to make students more independent and active in learning process. They spent more time studding in interactive surrounding. The relation of project aims and tasks with real life situations increased students‘motivation. The students gathered information from different sources willingly and actively, consulted not only their teachers, but also experts, researched and solved environmental and social problems (how to protect seal population, how man can help them, what profession are necessary at the Sea Museum etc). The tasks were made easier through the use of technology. The project revealed wide possibilities of using technology as well. Students liked communicating via e-mails, e-register, cooperating on Jimdo.com and Linoit.com platforms, applying new tools for story creating and project demonstrations.

Successful outcomes

The scenario "Tell a story" was implemented, new technological tools were mastered, information about animal world according given tasks was gathered, and a story about a little seal was created. Selected students presentations were published in the website, a video presenting a project was made. Applying SlideTalk tool teaching tool for English lessons „Seals in Lithuanian Sea Museum“was created. Students from other classes tried it doing listening tasks. This teaching tool and all the project material can be used by primary school, English and other teachers in their lessons related to the museum, endangered animals. This project as well as other similar works can be found in LeMill site.

Tips and advice to other teachers

I recommend using technology in everyday teaching process.  There are many ways in which technology can be used in the classroom. Try to match technological tools to the learning activities. Don‘t be afraid to experiment, even make mistakes. Just use your creativity and you will find out how widely these tools can be applied while planning and working. Let new technologies become your innovative in education. Search, create, find, and deepen your experience.

Links

  • Film presenting a project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm1n1A0TOjg&feature=youtu.be         
  • A teacher resource developed by the teacher and students "Seals in the Lithuanian Sea Museum": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWmpouBvpCc
  • Popplet for generating ideas and planning groupwork tasks: http://popplet.com/app/index.php#/867313
  • Popplet as a frame for writing a story: http://popplet.com/app/index.php#/975487
  • Linoit platform for running the project: http://linoit.com/users/Vaidakaik/canvases/iTEC%20Project 
  • Students' stories published in the website: http://padlet.com/wall/jngkfjugyk and http://go.knovio.com/watch/71555b1c2a3f449e9c1c77cba45248be