Monday, 22 October 2018

Using ICT in any lesson

Not so long ago we didn't think that we would ever need to use ICT in the lessons if it wasn't a lesson of ICT. Time went by and the technologies have become a necessity in our lives. The school is not an exception. With this growing need of the innovative technologies, teachers have to adapt to the new things and use them in their lessons. Sometimes all you need for a successful lesson is a computer, smart board and a projector, but most often we need some iTools or other programmes so that the educational process would be effective. We are lucky to have the iTools installed in our computers or digital course book versions downloaded into tablets which can be used in every single language lesson.
How does it work? Well, the iTools is a simple tool which makes the life of the teacher easier as it has all the texts, exercises, recordings and even extra activities as well as videos that can be use in the lesson. It's a very convenient thing as it allows teachers organise a more innovative lesson.
Another thing that we can use is a course book downloaded into the tablets. The students can use them in the lessons instead of the course books. The tablets can also be used for some online practice activities. The teachers can see the immediate progress of every student as the results, mistakes and the progress of the student can be seen instantly.

A three-day lesson in nature

As we live in a fast moving world, there appears the need of getting out of school and academic environment in order to return to the basics, learn about the basics. I'm sure that a lot of educational institutions focus on academic achievements thus forgetting that children should be taught not only languages, science or mathematics, but also some survival skills.
And also as the technologies have been taking over our lives for some time already, we have forgotten to move, to lead healthy lifestyles. That's why the teachers from Vilnius Mykolas Birziska Gymnazium organise an annual three-day trip to the National Park of Aukstaitija in Lithuania and take around 300 students to the forest to learn some life skills.  Don't worry! The students stay safe and sound during the trip:)
 You might ask what life skills we can teach them? First of all, children learn how to make a fire and cook food when we don't have our parents around. They also learn how to set up a tent which will definitely be useful in the future. Secondly, the students learn some teamwork skills. Because setting up the fire or a tent, cooking supper is not a one person's job. In order to get food for supper ,you have to contribute to the team. Thirdly, our students learn a lot about the life in the forest, about fauna and flora of the lakes and rivers as they canoe through the nicest lakes of the country. Not every student can climb on one of the highest hills in the region and count seven lakes surrounding it. And finally, the students get the chance to improve their physical health as the teachers come up with various activities to see how strong both physically and mentally our students are. I'm sure that there is no better place as the middle of the forest where students can play games without thinking about marks and exams, which is a great way to take your mind off the problems.
We also try to integrate some other subjects into this trip because we don't want the students only have fun without learning some serious things. Geography and biology are the subjects that are taught during the trip. We try to go on a hiking trip (we usually walk around 12 km a day) through the forest and the marsh where children can see different trees, plants, listen for the birds and even see a grass snake. Another thing we try to do is to introduce some cultural heritage by showing how regional food used to be made or presenting the historical facts about the region. The students get a double benefit: they improve their history skills and get to try a very tasty soup - fish soup cooked over the fire. The ecological part is also very important as we can teach the students about the importance of keeping the forest, lakes and rivers clean. After every activity students feel a moral obligation to clean after themselves.
The middle of the forest is a perfect place to have the lessons of physical education. Instead of playing basketball, doing high jumps or running short distances, students and teachers thought of many other active and fun ways to do sport and keep physically fit. For example, students can play football but not the regular one, but the one in which two students are tied together and who have a goal either score the goal or defend the gate. It's fun, entertaining and teaching collaboration. Another activity which requires not only physical strength but also critical thinking skills is called Hit the Balloon. The balloons of two different colours are tied to kids' calves which the kids have to take care of and not let the "enemy" team blow them off. This includes both brain and body agility as the kids have to look around and strategise their moves and win the game. One more activity which is fun if the weather is hot and sunny is the race in the river against the flow. The kids have to be fast and run in the shallow part of the river against the flow. The first to reach the rope twice wins the game.

If you want to change the environment and do something non-traditional, you can always take the students to nature and organise different activities there. All you need is a little bit of creativity and willingness to spend a  few days without a comfortable bed or hot shower. But believe me, the experience we get there is invaluable. Not only will the students like the trip, their parent will thank you for taking the kids away from  the computers.

Using Kahoot! as another way to learn

In this blog I have described a few games that teachers can play with the students in the lessons. For example, we have some games which we can play in our economics lessons. Another method we can apply is to prepare a Kahoot! quiz, which undoubtedly will appeal to most of the students.
In order to have a fun but at the same time educating lesson,  teachers have to prepare a quiz on a Kahoot! platform. All we need to do is to sign in the website and create a quiz on the topic which has been taught for a few weeks. Personally, I use this method when I want the students to revise the material. Since they are willing to engage in the innovative activities, students tend to remember more things when they have fun.
However, there might be some obstacles while using this method as not all students have smart phones or the internet connection at school. What should we do then? We can be creative and use the material we have in the classroom. Let's take a sheet of paper and put it into a clear plastic punched pocket folder. Then give the students a highlighter and ask them to write the answers on the folder while playing a Kahoot! game. After the question time is over, ask students to raise the folders above their heads so that you can see the answers. It might also be entertaining as it is an old-fashioned but fun way to get involved in the lesson.
Another obstacle that we can have while doing this activity is the anxiety of the teachers to even start using this method in the classroom. Believe me, once you start creating Kahoot! quizes, you'll never get bored. And your students won't let you forget this method :)

Sunday, 1 July 2018


Nowadays it is becoming more popular to organize lessons somewhere out of school so that students could experience more. The lessons which take place in different museums, factories, authority buildings can give way more to the students than just simple listening to the teacher giving a lecture at school. Our school students appreciate such occasions and are always willing to learn in a non-traditional environment.
On the 6th of June a group of students together with their class teachers went to the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania located on the picturesque shores of Kaunas  Lagoon in Rumšiškės.  The students got acquainted  with the mode of life, work and traditions of peasants and townspeople of all etnographic regions of Lithuania by visiting both interior and exterior expositions.  In addition, the students had the opportunity to take part in two educational activities: Primary School in 1930 and The Exile and Resistance  movement.  During the first activity our student found out interesting facts about the education system that existed at the mentioned period of time and they even had an opportunity to try their hand writing  using dip pens.  It created a fun leaning environment that kept students motivated. Later,  they were assessed according to the grading system that was used in the 1930s education. 

Another educational activity that attracted students‘ attention and interest  was visiting the Exile and Resistance Movement Exhibition which is a tribute to the tragic period in the Lithuanian history. The exhibition consisted of a pit-house (yurt), a train wagon used to transport deportees, a hideout (bunker) and memorial monuments. What made this activity innovative was that the students listened to the memoirs of an old Lady who was deported from Lithuania to Siberia during the mass deportations of 1941 and spent almost all her life in Yakut Republic.

After those two activities the students led a discussion about the facts they had learned. They thought of questions based on the activities and analysed the given facts about the past. Most importantly the teachers were only observers of the discussion. The students, without even noticing, organised a perfect lesson in which they learned a lot.
Undoubtedly, the trip to Rumšiškės was a step forward in trying to implement innovative approaches to learning and teaching. Our advice for those who still feel unsure if such lessons work would be not to be afraid and try organizing as many non-traditional lessons as possible as it is a huge asset to today’s education.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

A new approach to learning economics

The teachers can not only teach the things they know the best but also inspire students to create something which might show them their future career paths. 

One of the innovative ways to teach students to apply the knowledge they gain at school during the theory lessons is to encourage them to participate in different projects.

The students from Vilnius Mykolas Birziska gymnasium took part in the project on economics which aim was to set up a real business, to manage it, to feel its successes and failures. In this project students have improved such skills as financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career education.

During the project students set up their business, collected a starting capital, planned what they would make and sell, then made the product and sold it, carried out the marketing research and finally closed their business. 

The project lasted for about one school year during which students had to complete all the stages of business. During these months students were closely monitored by their teachers who were ready to consult students but it was the students who always took the responsibility for their actions.

Our students set up a business which sold practical things such as dish sponges which have magnets to keep them attached to the sink or protective shoe soles which are attached to the shoes with the help of magnets.

Later the students participated in different Start-ups fairs in which they advertised the products and sold them for real money. After the project all of them claimed that that was the best lesson which they could have at school.

During the project students have learned not only theoretical knowledge how business works but also experienced everything by themselves. Such projects are the best lessons the student can get at school as they teach real life skills which will be necessary and applicable in the future.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Some Ideas on Emotional Intelligence

Nowadays children and teenagers face a lot of challenges. They have to study hard to achieve good results at school. Besides, they have to meet their parents need. Being under constant pressure, students do not know how to deal with their emotions. They start talking back, arguing with parents and teachers, bullying other students. It is high time we started talking about their emotions during the lessons at school. We, teachers and parents, may help them to find a better choice thus improving both students' results and relationships with other peers, teachers and parents.
The teachers from José Luis Lopez Aranguren school in Madrid have tried a list of short videos that may help us in the lessons. After watching these short videos, all we need to do is to ask students the right questions at the right time.

Getting to know our emotions:


Social Skills:

Cooking in English

Hi, there!

Teacher Ana is sending best regards to all who enjoy cooking and learning English.

One of the ways to make learning easier and more fun is to ask students not only to learn new words but also use them in practice.

The aim of the following lesson:
Using a variety of words on food, students will be able to give the instructions of the recipe and record it in the process of making food.

Students should be pre-taught the words on food, equipment, grammar structures for giving instructions.

This is a fun activity as it helps students to learn new words, recipes. Not only that, it also provides with the opportunity to learn some skills (flip the omelette, make a film, etc.) and most importantly, it unites people. What else would make us closer if not the food that we have prepared together :)

Please, check the link to see the outcome of the task, which was set by teacher Ana from Jose Luis Lopez Aranguren school in Madrid.