Lifelong Learning Programme

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Title of the Experience
Work in terrain - as a basic element in nature
Name of the teacher
Irena Šuchterová
Country where it took place
Thematic Area
Experience typology
Type of contact
Description of the Experience
Biology as a subject is taught at our school for the first time as in previous years the subject taught was ecology. New curricula allow applying this new subject. It aims at the students of the first year studying tourism services and those whose apprenticeship is a waiting job. Time devoted to a subject is one lesson per week.
The teaching plans include three thematic areas - Biology (11 hours), Man and his health (10 hours) and the last one is Man and the environment (11 hours). Students have passed the first two fields, currently the studied issues belong to the theme of Man and the environment.
Students’ previous experience differs as students passed nature science in elementary school and therefore already possess some knowledge from which they currently also draw. I think that biology is among the popular science subjects compared with mathematics and chemistry which are also taught at our school. I personally teach chemistry as well so I can compare it.
The first topic unit included rehearsing the curriculum of the elementary school. Students already knew what biology is, what its studied subjects are and how it is divided. They were aware of the concept of living system, its properties, the notion of a cell, its characteristics, and types of cells, plant tissues, organs and their functions and also plant development. There were also topics of animal tissues and organs, their vital functions, viruses and bacteria. Therefore I could have drawn during the lessons from their knowledge. I often gave the students group work during the lessons or asked them to prepare for the next lesson in the form of a written report obtaining information from literature, from the Internet or searching for images of the taught curriculum (also from the Internet). It helped us during the lessons when students by themselves responded to the discussed topics. Since some students are computer capable, they could have done their homework on the PC in the form of PowerPoint presentations or simply in a word processing document. Maybe it sounds strange, but not all students of our school have the opportunity to work at home on the PC, and therefore they can not prepare their home works so I give them opportunity to work on the assignments also during the Informatics classes which I also teach them. Using this method I try to develop students' computer and reading literacy.
Another thematic unit was called Man and his health - again a very familiar topic for the students. The basics are known from the elementary school and students can build up on them. For example, during teaching the topic of Healthy lifestyle and eating habits I used a cross-curricular knowledge from a special subject of Food and Nutrition class I taught in the previous years. I divided the students into smaller groups and let each group write what a life style means to them. Gradually, we heard the presentations of views of each group and discussed their opinions (both positive and negative). It was a really good experience both for me and certainly for the students as well. I gained an impression that students know how to present their views and that they can also tolerate the opinions of other classmates. They listen to each other and think about the accuracy of their opinions when reflecting on classmates’ opinions. Thus they easier remember the content of the curriculum that they maybe did not even realize during the classes being the subject matter. My experience is that their opinions facilitated my work during the lesson achieving the classes teaching goals and their knowledge, ideas and good discussions were helping me. There is an increase in student activities and their skills and participation during the classes, they do not just passively accept the teacher's information. I chose similar teaching methods and processes when teaching the topics of Eating habits, Health, Factors affecting human health, etc.
The last thematic unit Man and the Environment offers both me and the students a space for discussions and dialogue during the lessons, group work and field work in the school yard.
Especially fieldwork in the school yard was an example of experiential learning for my students. Teaching the lesson on Ecosystem as the basic unit of nature I very simply and briefly explained what an ecosystem is and what kinds of ecosystems there are (20 minutes). Together with the students we prepared a PowerPoint presentation as we hold the lesson in a computer lab. Then we moved into the field work on campus (school yard).
Before the lesson I prepared pictures of 10 plant species (herbs, trees, shrubs). I divided the students into pairs and gave them the following task: find all types of the plants in the school yard, take a small part of each plant and determine what kind of plant it is. Many students did not have a problem with finding the plants, but had a problem with their determination. When all the students finished collecting the plant samples, we went through the collection and identified the plant species together.
Students also received a home work: make a herbarium from the collected samples. They had to dry the plants first, attach them to sheets of paper and name all the species correctly (both Slovak and scientific- Latin names). They also had to choose a correct plant family for each sample. This lesson was held on April 24, 2014. Herbarium must be prepared for May.
I know I described the lesson of an earlier date, before our first meeting, but for me and my students it was a very interesting one. Observations of my students (their views on the lesson) were positive- the lesson was more fun, more relaxed than sitting in the classroom, getting to know the campus better, improved knowledge about plants. They said: “We realized that the lesson can also be different than just reading from a textbook. We were outdoors and got to know the plants better by our own real feel. We did not have to write long and boring notes. In general we were relaxing. It was also good that we worked in pairs rather than individually.”
To increase students' interest in the subject of biology I use the help of ordinary nature phenomena, phenomena of everyday life, and also even a higher interest of students in their environment and health.

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Dissemination Seminar in Florence

31 October 2015 The seminar has been held in ITIS “A. Meucci” one of the schools involved within Goerudio project activities. Its main aim was to promote the results of the project toward a broad sample of stakeholders even overcrossing the number of people directly involved in the production of project outcomes. This purpose has been totally achieved especially thanks to the participation of students and teachers coming from different schools or from other classes instead of those ones directly involved within the project activities.