I would like to share my experiences and good practices from these times when all teachers are exposed to new challenges. When it is also not always easy to navigate and progress. Even more difficult in situations where we are pushed by “force majeure” to try something new.
Not surprisingly, when the schools closed and I stayed at home with the challenge of “you got to start it yourself”, I put together 1 + 1 and found that: as an eTwinning and Scientix Ambassador, I had a lot of experience organizing webinars and sharing good examples from practice.
The first thought was the question of how I would teach my pupils that we could find everything in one place and that we would have every day an overview of every step we take together during online learning. The choice went immediately on the platform Graasp – A space for everything, which I had known for a long time, and in October 2019 I also participated in training through the European Schoolnet Academy in the TIWI – Teaching ICT with inquiry course. A MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) equipped teachers with essential skills and knowledge to teach STEM and ICT with the help of inquiry-based pedagogy in their classrooms.
I went on to build my online education program to create classes in this space and build every lesson they could handle by themselves during quarantine at home.
I have discovered the tremendous wealth and suitability of this platform for these purposes. In this way, I can give a pupil a complete lesson with everything they need. It provides a variety of resources I can put into the lesson space: worksheets, presentations on the topic, links to educational videos enriching material, applications that make it easy for students to study (calculator, the periodic table, online labs and simulations, hypothesis). It is also possible to develop tests and assignments that give the teacher feedback on how the students mastered the curriculum. The portal has confirmed that it is timeless and, in addition to the discussion application, is directly linked to videoconferencing space, which connects teachers with their class in one click. All these attributes I had the opportunity to really try and experiment with them, it worked, and it shows that it is easily manageable even for students.
Amazingly, this platform is associated with the Go-Lab EU Portal, where the teacher can include a virtual lab or simulations in the lesson material so that the pupil can see how it works and what results they can expect in their home environment. The virtual lab has it on his computer inside. Nothing prevents the students from looking into the mysterious world of chemistry, physics, mathematics, programming, biology, and all the disciplines that the teacher will prepare for them in the lessons. Graasp has proven to be an extremely useful tool for me at times of distance learning, but also when we are all back in school it still has its uses.
My story does not end here, my mission is to share what I know with other teachers, so I have also included and organized a “Graasp and its uses” through distance learning, webinars for teachers. These had tremendous feedback from the teachers who attended, and we are aiming to set new dates because the interest was enormous. Thanks to me, teachers in Slovakia discover the potentials of learning through the Graasp platform and use it in all lessons.
My next step is to build another workshop-webinar soon where I want to build on a framework for teachers to use while creating online lessons for pupils. Providing teachers, the opportunity to sign up for a practical webinar, which means that a teacher will follow my explanation and create, with my support, practical lesson materials. Step by step they can have results and lessons that will be based on the needs of their pupils. Such a simple combination of theory with a practical approach.
This is my story, showing that anything is possible when a teacher has a motivation, access, resources, and know-how to do it. It is inspiring to see the great interest and lessons that this crisis brings us. Innovation in education and among teachers in Slovakia keeps on improving. The key is being together (only online for now) and getting as involved as you can!
Best wishes to you all! And remember, we are not alone! In this community, you can find excellent caring and sharing teachers who are more than eager to learn from each other.
Author: Ing. Gabriela Krizovska, Scientix and eTwinning Ambassador in SLOVAKIA