The main objective of this event was for reflection about the functionality of IWB’s and their use in the classroom. There are currently two integrated projects in the Aveiro District, one is in Aveiro City Schools, (ria.edu) and the other project involves all the schools under the Teachers Training Centre, (Entre Paiva e Caima), The Interact Project. Each project was introduced by its coordinator. Professor Fernando Delgado, talked about the ria.edu project and made a positive evaluation of the results using ACTIVboards, stating the high involvment and motivation of students and teachers involved. This school district is the first in Portugal to introduce IWB’s into all classrooms. He also explained how they made the evaluation and why ACTIVboards were chosen.
The interact project was presented by it’s coordinator, Professor José Paulo Santos. The analogy “voo dos gansos’’ (flight of the geese) equates perfectly to spirit of the project, where the objectives are; teachers helping each other, sharing good practice and exchange of experiences. Professor José Paulo related generally the aims and targets of Interact. He emphasised that in a very short period of time the teachers involved in the project have produced a great deal of content in flipchart format for public use. For the duration and to aid communication of the project, a blog was created (www.interactsite.blogspot.com) and also a portal that was officially launched at the event (www.interactportugal.com)
Concluding this session, Promethean representative, Guillaume Chatagnon, spoke about the importance of projects like Interact, and he complimented Professor José Paulo on his hard work, spirit of initiative and the important role as leader of Project Interact.
After the opening remarks delegates attended one of six parallel sessions, five of which were showing best practice using Activboards at different school levels:
- Middle School
- Secondary Science
- Secondary Language and Literature
- Activboard software demonstrations, Activlingua and other complementary software.
Between demonstrations in the Activboard demonstration room, I was able to sit in on some of the sessions. My Portuguese language skills leave much to be desired, but I could judge the quality of the presentations by observation of what was happening on the board. All presenters had an excellent grasp of the software and were exploiting its capabilities. As always with inspirational teachers new ideas and techniques were shown to great effect. What was particularly impressive was that the teachers in the Primary and Middle school rooms had brought some of their children in to the demonstration. What better way to show how the Activ classroom engages pupils at this age range! It was interesting to note that these pupils had no fear of using Activprimary software and their control of the pen illustrates how important this motor skill is.
Without exception, every child that wrote on the board using the pen, rested his/her other hand on the board surface. This of course, is impossible to do whilst using a Smartboard.
Despite the language barrier, I was able to pick up an interesting point.
Activprimary has yet to be translated into Portuguese, this wasn’t a problem for the pupils!
In fact, one teacher remarked that her pupils had vastly improved their English vocabulary, because they were learning all the names of the animals and characters in the clipart library! These sessions were repeated in the afternoon.
There followed a Plenary session.
In the closing plenary, Drª Maria João Loureiro and Drª Isabel Cabrita (Educational Technologies department, Aveiro University), expressed their appreciation of the work/presentations in each the sessions, praising the quality of the presentations given. They stated that IWB’s (and importantly) the associated software involved is a good tool for both teachers and students, increasing motivation, leading to a change of classroom practices and a higher level of interactions between teacher/students and student/students.
Professor Arsélio Martins (Escola Secundária José Estêvão), although recognising many positive aspects using ACTIVboard in Maths, extolling the accuracy and speed of the ACTIVboard, together with the Maths tools which are far better than any of the competitive products that he had evaluated, stated that using technology is less important than the reflection about their impact on the Teaching and Learning process. He concluded by saying IWB’s are not the only tool, but are an important and valuable tool for teachers and students to use, enabling teachers to innovate and not to follow routine. They should be prepared to explore possibilities and use it with creativity and innovation.
Engº António Pereira, Director of Entre Paiva e Caima Teachers Training Centre, reinforced the importance of these kind of initiatives and applauded the positive contribution that the output this project is already giving, saluting the coordinator Professor José Paulo Santos for the success achieved to date.
Dr. António Moreira presented the final summary and concluded the event. The event was evaluated using Activotes and the success of the event was reflected in the very positive feedback.
Project Interact, although relatively small compared with the scale of the country, has had a very positive impact on all the participants, but will have a greater impact on the wider educational community throughout Portugal, because of the dedication and enthusiasm of all involved, but particularly José who has been an inspirational co-ordinator.
A very satisfying day for me personally, because it showed that best practices may be achieved in a relatively short period of time. All teachers involved are to be congratulated on their dedication and effort to master the technology and use it as an effective teaching tool. Decitrel our partners in Portugal, provided excellent technical expertise, support and setup.
Business Development Manager Promethean