On Friday, May 1st 2015, five students from the Grade 4 @AAS Sofia led CEESA directors in an interactive workshop to contribute to their extended multimedia project on Art Peace and Governments. Our Grade 4 Students Sophia, Lora, Stefan, Lyubo and Martin taught Ms. Kathy Stetson - CEESA Executive Director, Mr. Robert Brindley - Director of AIS, Bucharest and Dr. Tom Shearer, Regional Educational Officer, USA Department of State, how to paint in the style of Picasso, as well as how to compose and record a music with an iPad to upload on the Grade 4 class website about Art & Peace.
The five students Grade 4 lead interactive sessions on three stations in the ES Art Atelier space. At the first station, students described their project and lead a discussion on how Art can promote peace, guided by the class Weebly website, “Art and Peace”. Sophia and Lora presented their Social Science and Art & Music work, and gave instructions related to the next two interactive sessions. Students created a separate webpage called “Director’s Visit” to add to the Grade 4 Art & Peace website.
The audience then moved to the next table where Lyubo and Stefan helped them create their own music compositions using the video recording feature on iPADs. Ms. Stetson and Mr. Brindley sang their own “Peace” composition beautifully using the words ‘Bing’, ‘Bang’ and ‘Peace’. It was uploaded to the “Director’s Visit” webpage on the class Weebly website.
Finally, the audience moved to the Art station where Martin taught them how to draw in the style of Picasso. They used cardboard (part of a puzzle) and charcoal to complete their own artwork inspired by Picasso’s Guernica. The workshop ended with the students demonstrating their newly completed published last page of the Grade 4 Weebly website “Art and Peace” called “Director’s Visit”.
Students also shared details about their Art Peace and Government project as well as their formal letter to the Mayor of Sofia where they expressed concern about the Peace Monument in Sofia and offered their site as a means to popularise the idea of “Art working for peace”. The Grade 4 music compositions “Bing, Bang Peace” together with the class video about Bell Tower in Sofia are available here and are incorporated into the Grade 4 class website about Art and Peace. This site was the result of the cross-curricular project between Social Science, Art, Music and Technology aimed at developing students’ 21st Century skills. Through this project students improved their creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making while subtly learning technology operations and concepts. Throughout the project we observed increased student motivation and high levels of student involvement. Students had a real goal in the real life and they took full responsibility for their own learning in order to achieve it. Digital citizenship was woven into the fabrics of the day to day learning experiences and responsible use of the Internet was stressed throughout the project.
The approach we used is known as “employing students as technology leaders”, first introduced in the AAS three years ago by Ms Tareva, our Technology Integration Specialist. Since then we have been using it at AAS on a number of occasions where students acted as technology leaders by teaching peers and adults like teachers, CTAs, parents and other educators how to use ICT applications.
The first event that involved students as technology leaders took place at AAS in December 2012 during a Parent coffee and was followed by students teaching slam sessions during the International L-Ten Technology Conference in January 2013, an informal technology PD session for the AAS CTAs in May 2013, a teaching session at the Balkan Google Summit in December 2013. Next, in the 2014-15 school year our young technology leaders delivered а technology PD session to our teachers and CTAs as a part of Ms. Tareva’s MA research on the effect of employing students as technology leaders on student motivation and their learning skills. Later, our ES students provided virtual teaching sessions to peers in the US using Skype and Google Hangouts, which marked the first application of this approach in a virtual environment. The culminating events for our students were the virtual teaching sessions they offered to ECIS Conference attendees in Nice 2014 and the CEESA Conference attendees in Dubrovnik 2015. Information about these projects can be found on http://learningbyteaching.weebly.com/ and http://teches.weebly.com/
Projects that employ students as technology leaders utilise the ‘Learning by Teaching’ approach and motivate students to learn independently by preparing to teach others. They harness students’ passion for technology and offer alternative ways of learning in a real life, authentic context and provide opportunities for independent and self-directed learning that are not easily achievable by traditional teaching and learning methods. The concept of teaching as a way of learning has a long history and is often successfully extended to involving students as teachers in various forms throughout the centuries. Innovative practices that employ students as technology leaders have been emerging to shift the traditional teaching and learning arrangements and accommodate current demands for technology enhanced 21st Century education. Such practices utilise students’ technology expertise in schools by engaging students to deliver learning not only to peers but also to adults as best practices of technology professional development. They have the potential to foster enhanced pedagogies and redefine the role of teachers from that of authoritative lecturers that provide unidirectional instruction, towards that of coaches, mentors, designers and guides, leading students towards effective learning. Involving students as teachers challenges the perception of teaching as a rigid, one-sided responsibility based on teachers’ expertise and authority, and that of learning as a solely student, novice responsibility and purports to position the students at the centre of the teaching and learning process. By providing students with the meaningful, authentic opportunity to act as teachers, they can enable leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills through active, self-regulated and collaborative learning while listening to students’ voices on how schools can be more relevant to real life.
We would like to thank CEESA for providing our students with the exceptional opportunity to act as technology leaders. We are especially thankful to Ms. Kathy Stetson, Mr Robert Brindley and Dr. Tom Shearer for being a wonderful audience. We hope they enjoyed taking part in our workshop!
Gr. 4 Students Sophia, Lora, Stefan, Lyubo and Martin
Ms. Anastassova, Art Teacher & Ms. Tareva, Tech Integration Specialist
The Anglo-American School of Sofia, Bulgaria