Čakovec PMGY meeting - notes and recordings

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Sharing expertise in educational support for gifted and motivated youth

Notes and recordings prepared by Elizabeth Mc Donnell

 

A: Presentation themes

Theme/ Topic Features/ purpose/interest Challenges/ questions
Centres of excellence
  • Informing business by knowledge from students
  • Network of companies (international)
Better policies towards young peopleDealing with the political /state system
  • Importance of contacts and meetings/ involvement
  • Personal stories – politicians and policy makers with personal experience/ motivated to act
  • Wider impact – cannot do everything or work alone
  • To what end? Better than?
 Summer schools/camps
  • Focussed and intensive
  • Across a range of disciplines or one e.g. mathematics
  • Taste of the ‘real thing’
  • Can be creative and innovative (not constrained by institutional needs/norms)
  • Mentor-student ratio high
  • Mentors may lack skills /training (pedagogical, group-work, psychological)
  • Limited capacity – funding for accommodation/ travel
  • Reliance on volunteers
  • Limited collaboration with schools; limited community reach (PR)
  • Different levels of prior learning
 Cross-sector knowledge transfer
  • Between business and academia
  • Transfer of knowledge from universities to economy
  • Talented young students / schools connect with universities and business
Connecting scientists/ science to the school curriculumCollaboration between scientists and teachers
  • Recognition/ fits school agenda
  • Buy-in from teachers / school
  • Start close to curriculum / build relationship then innovate – make curriculum contemporary
  • Interdisciplinary/ multidisciplinary approach?
  • Improve communication between scientists and teachers
  • Improve science communication skills
  • Make use of e-platforms and online repositories; update to maintain interest
  • Balance between working with existing curriculum and adding something new
  • Some subjects way outside school curriculum / little match
Scientific workshops
  • Undergraduate students and young scientists develop and facilitate the workshops
  • Training and support
  • Better means of mentor training
  • Evaluation – knowing what works, impact?
  • Working with primary school children. Older age groups?
 Physics for gifted students
  •  School-Institute of Physics, each provides input
  •  Students motivated but teachers? Scientists? What do they get out of it?
 Science Academy/ choosing careers
  • Helping students to know what they want to study, their options
  • Connect high school students with the professions
  •  How to measure efficiency of e.g .orientation meetings?
  • (in Croatia) perception that university education will lead to high salaries; vocational education least attractive yet skilled young people needed
  • Self-perpetuating loop- vocational teachers ‘second rate’
Grow knowledge and skills of teachers in educating young people
Rethink education at university level
Open Curriculum / autonomy of schools
  • School can design a curriculum suited to local context; work with local economy, community
  • Blend of state-defined curriculum, extensions to it and new additions
  • (Slovenia) confined to secondary vocational and technical schools/ not mainstream
 Self-paced learning
  • Young people who like to learn (motivated and gifted?) but hate the school system
  • Responsibility for own learning
  • Independency- do not accept given knowledge/ challenge
  • Learning skills
  • Joy of discovery
  • ‘giftedness’ isn’t enough for doing science; different competencies
  • Change in role: from teaching to guiding; from assessing to tracking
  • Extracurricular is not an alternative curriculum
 Inquiry –based learning
Working in difficult social conditions
  • can be innovative; work outside institutional requirements
  • children/ young people as agents of change?
  • Building skills, self-confidence, awareness
  • Science as empowerment
  • Social purpose of science – to bring about change? Do good?
Working with students from very different backgrounds
  • More possibilities to work with disadvantaged students if move to student-centred and active learning?
  • Need for students to experience success
  • Challenging social situations
  • Change in culture – from passive to active learning
  • Teacher resistance; lack of skills
  • Changing government policy
Science and conflict management
  • Indirect – not work directly on areas of conflict
  • Build relationships, networks
  • Skills and aptitudes of relevance in conflict management?
  • Focus on children – is this enough?

 

B: Ideas

Swapshop
  • Individuals swap between disciplines – new group, new area
  • Challenges, different experience
  • May not participate well or be interested
Interactive lectures
  • Meeting with experts in the fields
  • Able to ask questions, interact
  • Does it favour the more confident? How interactive?
Teaching and research through games
  • Open up learning in different ways; through play
  • University students
  • Perception of students – waste of time, don’t recognise their own learning
Self-determination
  • Listening to young people/ children – letting them decide
  • Set limits / boundaries
Dancing molecules
Slash mob
Scientists in schools
Teacher education on science workshops
Competitions

 

C: Ideas developed following sharing and discussion (26th Feb)

# Idea for an activity Key elements Outcomes/ purpose How to start?
1. Exchange/ volunteering
  • abroad
  • pupils or teachers
  • practice a language
  • behind the scene of an event (festival, camp)
  • discovering a new culture
  • exchange emails and personal contacts
2. Share educational material/ projects
  • website/ collaborative for teachers/ mentors
  • share methods of teaching/ subjects
  • improve teaching
  • who is in charge?
  • project proposals
  • who is working on it?
  • is it international or not? (language problem)

Build on existing/ online repositories of teaching materials, open source

3. Case study-based collaborative strategies
  • perspectives (approaches)
  • problems faced
  • solutons
  •  advisor group, database?
  • Forum- focus question (i.e. evolution for students of 8-12 years)
4. Science teacher exchange/ primary schoolCollaboration with national agencies to help dissemination of results
  • gathering teachers to improve class experience
  • exchange (and create) an international curriculum
  • observing real classes in other countries
  • To provide better teaching to students
Duration of 3 hrs or more
Find us the money!(EU Lifelong Learning programme – Leonardo)
5. Project or curriculum based on student inquiry/ questions/ ideas
  • introduction to the topics
  • develop questions or ideas of projects
  • perform the projects
  • long-term project in class or advanced-level after summer camp
  • go further with what we do
  • for all youth?

Obstacles

  • we don’t know / not skilled yet
  • time and money
  • organization
  • can’t do the all program
6. Travelling science playground
  • cheap creative equipment
  • kids can freely play with this
  • teachers are allowed to watch them but there are separate activities for them
  • playground travels from school to school
  • international mentors
  • raising interest in science experiments through game
  • identification of motivated kids and teachers
Collaboration with the Međimurje county in fall 2012
7. Joint education for mentors and teachers
  • teaching us for us
  • get professional help
  • use old experience
  • better mentors
  • more mentors
  • good documentation
  • refresh knowledge
In Zagreb, SSF people already do it.

  • online communication
8. International exchange of mentors
  • money
  • joint planning
  • language
  • diversity of workshops
  • perspective
  • schedule of calls for mentors
  • money!
9. Seeing Maths as an experimental science
  • computer
  • good problems
  • games (board games, card games, strategy)
  • ‘see’ the maths
  • aid some clever pupils who are not ‘math’ orientated (in a traditional sense)
  • find the place
  • the problems
10. Annual newsletter of activities Individually towards schools AND pupils Better communication towards schools Annual plan in advance

 

D: Discussion topic: What do we mean by ‘gifted’/ ‘motivated?

 

(Recordings from group discussion of Sat 25th Feb.)

Gifted: talented, highly-capable, intelligent, clever; above average, fast learner, communicator;

Motivated: hard-working, wanting to change one’s life; driven, passionate, curious, interested,

Issues/ questions

  • Identifying motivated is easy; identifying gifted is?
  • Gifted is hidden, you can see motivation; motivation is variable, you can modify it. Context-dependent
  • Gifted are, by definition, motivated?
  • What is our real goal when we work with gifted/ motivated kids? To help them or to recruit them?
  • Experts can define gifted – we should listen to them, have criteria. Don’t agree – expert criteria my not work/ be right. Do we need to define/ follow the official line? We are working with unofficial education.
  • Do we see gifted as a ‘dirty’ word? That we should not tell them that they are gifted? Acknowledge that they exist/ not all the same ability.
  • Gifted can create problems – social/ egos/ self-absorbed; gifted have their own way of thinking.
  • Balance – encourage v be realistic, not all can/ will realise their dreams.
  • What is the role of the teacher?

(Recordings from group discussion on Monday 27th Feb)

Gifted/ motivated

  • we don’t know what ‘gifted’ is – won’t use the word anymore; motivated we know
  • there is a clear difference between gifted and motivated
  • we work with motivated, gifted may be amongst them
  • in Croatia, must use the term ‘gifted’ for funding purposes, not motivated; in France, must not use gifted, use motivated (national context); buzz words
  • not important that kids are gifted but important that they are motivated; recognize that some are gifted
  • motivation can be developed, gifted is inherited
  • working with science for social action, focus not on gifted
  • need to work on motivation
  • unrealistic social expectation from gifted (Croatia); not helpful
  • gifted and motivated should appear together – need both

Purpose in working with gifted / motivated

  • develop skills; motivation needs developing- be curious, ask questions ok to be wrong
  • ‘good’ qualities of children often lost through the education system
  • See a need to do something different to the official educational system
  • Need to be specific on what you want to achieve (France)
  • Too much emphasis on initial purpose may miss added value / emergent, unexpected outcomes
  • Keep up level of motivation – it spreads; work with those with the potential for motivation

E: Different organizations – exploration of similarities and differences in activities / projects

SSF – science workshops; Uni Paris 11 – interdisciplinary BA; PMF Zg- chemistry education, inquiry-based; Os Spinut- facilitating teaching; CRI- games in education, research in education; MNM- math workshops, projects

Group #1:

Similarities: small groups; project work; we experiment with teaching; kids think themselves; critical and creative thinking developed

Different but generalizable.

Group #2:

Similarities: Become a ‘researcher’; experimentation, present your results; meeting with scientists; difficulties to work in schools without teachers; diversity: mix of social / geog. Backgrounds

Specificities: local, national, international – scope of target; cost of mentor- volunteers, paid; type of actions- camps, long-duration projects, festival.

Group #3:

Similarities: flexible approach (personalised approach); small groups; active and interactive programs; directed to motivated students

Differences: Collaboration with local business needs?; different ways of communication with students and teachers in gov. schools; competition

F: Discussion of issues identified by group members (25th and 26th Feb)

1.Continuity/ irregular attendance

  • Give responsibility, students have a choice
  • Create sense of community – use internet/ keep link, contact between sessions
  • Be prepared to say ‘ bye bye’ (both to students and to mentors)

2.Funding

  • Small organizations need to collaborate
  • Apply for projects that have a wider appeal than one’s own target group
  • Start small/ gradual, then increase

3.Attracting children from socially-deprived backgrounds

  • Go directly to where people are from such backgrounds are
  • Market your work- use visuals
  • Language may be a barrier (lack of confidence)
  • Ask on website to fill out a short form/ leave info – build up a database of direct contacts

4.How to persuade politicians and policy-makers of the value of our work?

  • Get politicians involved in the project in some way
  • Involve media e.g via involvement of a celebrity / well-known person

5. How to empower and not impose?

  • Have activities to collect ideas and get thoughts
  • Do not push too hard – help in expressing ideas and thoughts

 

G. Summer school discussion (27th Feb)

  • Meeting / learning with different people; not necessarily different methods
  • Education in school not good enough, say it!
  • Not our job to change the curriculum – that of government but not doing it; civil society and teacher doing it (Croatia)
  • Working outside the system but want to change the system
  • Whose job – gov? civil society

H: Action planning (27th Feb)

Participants wanted to go further and develop some of the ideas from the previous 2 days.

Proposals

# Title Strengths Potential Concerns
1. Change the policy about ‘giftedness’
  • So we won’t need to work ‘in the dark’
  • do the good stuff without the buzzword stuff
  • To change how we are funded and to strengthen our reach
  • How to communicate it to politicians
  • how to articulate our arguments (it’s abstract)
2. Develop project-based curriculum
  • For deeper understanding of the subject, methods – reusable knowledge, increasing motivation, increasing awareness of usefulness of science
  • Complement of traditional teaching methods
  • Teachers’ constraints
  • more expensive?
  • More time-consuming
3. Influencing the Ministry/ Regional authorities to support the SSCs
  • Together we are stronger
  • ‘normalising of the work
  • growth,
  • sustainability, visibility
  • Lack of political will and envy of the official systems (science competitions)
  • lack of straightforward indicators of the value of SSCs.
4. Mind Twister Workshop: Incorporation interdisciplinary scientific workshops into summer schools
  • Easy to design and perform
  • Adaptable and reusable ideas/format
  • Motivating students for exploration of various areas of science
  • Adaptable to any age
  • Additional diversity in summer schools
  • Design of challenging workshops for advanced student
  • Lack of mentors (exchange!)
  • Possible lack of interest(unlikely)
5. Retired Educational Hobby
  • Inclusion of ‘grand’ people and grandchildren
  • Quality time together
  • Memory from childhood
  • Using experience (skills and knowledge)
  • Transferring tradition/culture
  • Quality
  • Training of them
  • Not easy
6. Workshops with families connects to #5 and expands on that

 

Participants split into 2 groups. One group developed topic 3 (influencing the Ministry/ Regional authorities) and the other, topic 4 (Incorporation of interdisciplinary workshops into summer schools).

 

I: Useful websites

 

MERLOT: academic repository for teaching materials; professionally curated

comPADre: academic repository for teaching materials in physics; professionally curated

Scienceamusante.net (in French, Google translator is your friend): teaching materials in chemistry/ physics; very detailed in all aspects; activities, security, materials

howtosmile.org: use of science activities by museums of science

instructables.com: practical step-by-step tutorials on how to make or do stuff; it’s free and open; anybody can post stuff

USTREAM: simple iPhone/Android phone applications for live video streaming and recording

Khanacademy.org: short, simple teaching videos explaining basic maths

www.artofproblemsolving.com : forum and a repository of maths problems and solutions

salto-youth.net and otlas.eu: websites for finding partners for international projects of non-formal education (part of the Youth in Action programmes)

Teacher blogs: Dan Myer – maths; Think, Thank, Thunk – mostly physics but more; Ira Socol- special education and tech in school, Action-Reaction (Frank Noschrence) – modelling physics, Clay Burell (Beyond School) - history and literature, especially chinese

 

 

Elizabeth Mc Donnell

elizabeth@ifacilitate.co.uk

http://ifacilitate.co.uk/

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