Our study group’s task during the observation week was just to observe everything, to take notes and ask different questions to the teachers in order to become more enlightened in the teacher’s tasks.
First of all, I have to say that Vestbjerg skole (which looks and works as a typical Danish school) is totally different from the schools which I used to see while living in Latvia. Apart from a thousand differences in a lesson organization system (the duration of lessons, holidays, classroom setting and so on) there are also lots of variations in methods, approaches teachers use, and, of course, the way they incorporate modern technologies while teaching.
Despite the fact the school does not have an access to CFU and cannot use its goods, the school is fully equipped with technologies that are needed during the studying process: there are projectors and computers connected to internet in each classroom and interactive whiteboards in majority of classrooms. In school halls there are also several computers which children are allowed to use whenever they want: they can read a book, look up information they need, or play a computer game.
All the pupils are given iPads or Chromebooks (laptops that run on Google’s web-based Chrome OS) provided by school to use from the first grade (in Vestbjerg Skole pupils get iPads in the 1st and 2nd grade, and Chromebooks in the later grades). In the lower grades teachers show and explain children how to use the machine correctly, how to complete basic tasks they need at primary school (e-book reading, audio listening, assignment writing etc.). From an early age, children use iPads or Chromebooks almost at every lesson, they complete some of their homework on laptops, and work on individual and group projects (Interactive collaborative work is being used from the 5th grade) using additional programs, Google Docs, like special grammar websites, PowerPoint, Google Translate, etc. During the lessons, children sometimes play Kahoot too.
I was pleasantly surprised with the way teachers manage their lessons including information and communication technology. As teachers told us, they try to use interactive whiteboard or a projector with additional materials at almost every lesson. Teachers often add some visual context during the learning process to increase the level of children’s interest and attention to the lesson: they watch useful movies and sing songs using YouTube, play online games if they are somehow connected with the topic that children are currently studying, etc. While observing, few examples of using ICT were shown to us: by using interactive whiteboard and YouTube, teacher showed some musical videos about English grammar. During the first video, children sang along about the English ABC. The second video was the song of Bruno Mars ‘Don’t Give Up’, and after watching it children repeated the main phrases heard and discussed what the song was about. The third video was phonetic song where children repeated the alphabet and learned some basic words in English.
As teachers told us, they often give children an opportunity to use the same technologies by themselves to develop their learning and 21st Century Skills. For example, during English lessons in the lower grades, children are allowed to choose their own songs in English to play on YouTube (1 pupil per day). A child has to open YouTube and find and play video by himself. This keeps pupils enthusiastic and expands the boundaries of their knowledge in language, music, as well as increases the level of self-assessment, knowledge construction and ICT and learning.
To sum up, I can say that the school incorporates technology as much as needed – teachers pay attention to technology usage but still remember that subjects’ learning and knowledge have to come first. As we have noticed, both teachers and children know how to use modern technologies and how to incorporate them into the studying process to get the most out of it.