During the 2016-2017 school year, four of our school’s teachers participated in Propedagogy-training. We consider one of the strengths of our school at Munkkiniemi to be the freedom to try out new ideas in the classroom, but finding a time that works for all of us to do planning is often challenging. The Propedagogy-training gave a good initial push for new experiments and for developing our school culture.
Our own work has concentrated on developing the mathematical and natural sciences’ subjects in middle school. The starting point has been the desire to offer the students an even more equal chance to learn, with an emphasis on the students’ individual premises. As a basis for the individual learning of middle school math we’ve used the Opi Matematiikkaa -page, where the middle school math contents are taught with the help of short videos. The webpage also includes a Test Your Skills -section as a tool for the students’ self-assessment. The page works well on the students’ own mobile phone, which makes it easy to use daily without the hassle of several devices.
Middle school biology and geography has thus far used only small modules in individual learning. Student feedback has been collected from these experiments, and the teachers have actively analyzed it in their heads throughout the school year. New material for supporting individualized learning, especially for grade 7 and 8 biology and geography, was created during the past summer.
The high school BI2 biology course was implemented almost entirely through individualized learning, and student feedback was also collected. The course development continues using both the feedback received as well as the teachers’ own findings. There is room for improvement especially in the continuous self- and peer evaluation. In biology and geography, the challenge is the vast scope of many of the courses, as well as the multi-dimensional nature of the topics and concepts. Individualization could very well work at its best when applied to specific entities, thus making the teaching methods more versatile.
During the past year we have made the assessments more varied. In elementary school math, for example, the evaluation system has used diamonds and learning symbols as a basis (www.bit.ly/sahimaa). The students’ role in developing evaluations has been more active than previously. We have found the assessment discussions to be very rewarding, but also fairly challenging to implement during the busy everyday school life. For next year, there is, among others, an electronic diary for high school advanced math in the works.
It has been educational to notice how much of a directive role the assessment plays in the students’ action. We think that developing assessments and the shared assessment culture of the entire school is central in renewing teaching and in creating a more individualized school culture.
In order for the school culture to change, we find collaboration to be important. It has been nice to notice that with the Propedagogy-training, the cooperation within our team has increased. Through teamwork and discussions the excitement spreads. Our goal is to, during the upcoming school year, increase the amount of collaboration even more, and also to inspire other teachers at our school to work with individualizing learning.
Ville Sahimaa (math, physics, chemistry)
Riikka Koivula (math, physics, chemistry)
Tiina Virkki (biology, geography)
Eeva Kalmanlehto (biology, geography)