Diary from Slovakia day 3

Wednesday, April 18th

Grammar School Vazovova

There is an over lap between primary and secondary schools. Study from 6-15 at primary (for basic education stay in primary). Then children can take exam for maths and slovak to pass to secondary 10-16 years old. 2-3x application rate, so can be selective on students that are admitted. Students may be asked to leave if standards drop.

School open for 55 years, good results. Lots of students accepted for study at university level. Concentrate on language, must take English, oand one other language German, french, Spanish, Russian . 600 children in the school.

Legislation requires English to be taught from 3rd grade.

This is training school for Comenius university teacher trainees.

Teachers paid around €500-600 a month.

National curriculum defines 70% of the subjects and teaching, the rest is for the head to decide.

Major debate over universities. Initially only three universities in the country. High quality of education. Now thee are over 30, plus technical universities and private ones. Ageing population of teaching professionals in universities, not being replaced by quality teaching staff. University staff not well paid.

Placements for teaching trainees are difficult to secure, mostly done on friendships and personal contacts. There is a mentor scheme for new trainees when starting a new job. Induction period similar to UK but can be extended by the school for another year.

Extra income for the school comes from parents’ taxes – parents nominate 2% of their taxes to go to the school. This funds buying IT equipment. No money from government for this sort of equipment.

Have educated two totally blind students, do include special needs as well. They have educational psychologists. Accept disabled students, have one child in a wheelchair, she uses ground floor rooms only (no wheelchair access elsewhere). Children need to bring statement of special needs requirements (includes dyscalculia, dyslexia ).

Very few minorities in the country, but they assume that immigration will rise. Aware that teaching will need to change to include these children.

Lesson on English using IT

13 years old – CD from InTT project, 13 kids in the room- all on a PC using Firefox. Teacher directs in english throughout the lesson. Children self directed following the lessons on cd/ web.

Children also looking for key facts about various cities as part of the exercise. Using Wikipedia in Slovak to look for answers, one student asks to use his mobile phone as he has an app with world city facts. Mobile phones not allowed to be used in school so teacher says no.

Interactive whiteboard in three classrooms – have to book classrooms to use it. Three other IT labs like this one, other two use for IT teaching. The teacher says they need to be in locked rooms or the children would wreck them.

Behaviour is excellent, children are all on task, very polite. Speak to us when we ask them. Level of English is variable, some fluent others at a good spoken level.

English lesson without technology
Classes are 26 students, always split into two groups for languages, so 12 children in this class. Desks with chairs in pairs. Lessons are 45 minutes with 10 minutes change over time. Children choose own seats. Very few displays on the wall, some drawings and words, a calendar and the Slovak flag.

Everyone stands up when teacher comes in to start at 11. No introduction straight into activity. Using text book, looking at going to the doctors. Immediately starts by asking child by name to give an illness, and describes hat we might suffer from. Reinforces with description of preposition and use. Teacher sits at desk, but all children can see her, mostly sitting at front of the room.

Writes on blackboard with chalk, to illustrate some words. Uses formal cursive script. Lots of questioning, why are people scared of getting cancer? Uses to introduce more language and illustrate the difference between word meanings and uses. Leads children through how they go to doctors, get a prescription.

Children are attentive, alway answer when asked. Listen to each other. Discussion with teacher for 20 minutes then asks students to work in text book matching symptoms to illnesses. They work in silence (without being asked to do so). Asks students I read out answers and some translate back to Slovak. Pace is fast and often doesn’t leave long for students to answer before moving on. Four students were not asked to speak in the lesson. Listen to a recording as a class from CD. Ask questions following listening on comprehension.

Questioning is quite personal – who has been to hospital? What illnesses do you suffer from? Quite a lot of ‘guess what is in my head’ questioning.

Gives homework – prepare for next lesson by reding text, preparing ideas on going to the hospital. Directs students to do another text book activity 35 minutes into the lesson. Students read answers back, directed by teacher by name.

Bell rings to show end of lesson (45 mins). Students pack up and go. All have pushed the chairs in.

Biology lesson
Taught in Slovak. One student with special needs using a laptop. Classroom has raked floor, desks and chairs in pairs, 23 students. 17 year olds – second grade for upper school. Takes register.

Interactive whiteboard in this lesson. Teacher logs in to Internet resource – looks like electronic text book.

DNA – labels molecule using IWB. asks student to make complimentary strand on DNA on IWB by rearranging letters in chain.

Good use of IWB, plus questioning, appears to be reviewing other knowledge. Students come out to front to do the activities. Watch short video from learning unit. Students taking notes from teacher dictation . One has iPad1, one has laptop ( SEN) rest writing in books or lined paper.

Review of transcription and translation then move to packing in chromosome. Histon, chromatin supercoiling. More background chatter in this lesson, less attentive but behaviour still good.

Covers chromosome structure, chromosome number, ploidy, karyotype preparation. Chromosome replication.

Teacher told me this was her weakest class of students and she recapped a lot of learning at the beginning of the lesson.

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