Teaching in current times
The new situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought big changes in the teaching in the virtual classroom compared to the usual teaching. Online teaching has set new requirements for the rapid implementation of ICT and the integration of digital technology without time to learn about the possibilities and principles of using a particular web tool. The question of choice, approach and way of working arises. Teachers quickly set out to select the appropriate technology for teaching activities and certain groups of students while achieving the planned educational outcomes and expectations of cross-curricular topics.
Time to contribute in solving global problems
As part of the school course Socially Responsible Business, students of the 2nd grade of the profession economist with their teacher Nada Ratković, prof. mentor participated in many national, European and international projects solving global problems the world’s most important challenges: climate change. Through the school year students are participating in national projects „E-student for a greener tomorrow“, EU project „Students actions-Fighting climate changes“, eTwinning project „Breathe deeply & Think clearly“, international projects „Climate Action project“ and „SDG goal project“. The projects are significant because they can be presented for any general education and vocational subject. Every age, topic and school requires a different approach and gives students the future they deserve.
Climate Action Project
In the „Climate Action Project“ students together with their teacher during six exciting weeks were connected virtually with students from around the world, tackling one of the world’s most important challenges: climate change. Curricula were sent to teachers every week. The students had great opportunities and a different approach to learning. They solved problems, shared their discoveries and took action. Students developed their own activity: the impact of climate change on the economy: statistics, tourism, banking and law. A particularly interesting activity within the project was the cooperation with students from other national and international schools.
Live virtual interactions took place via the Zoom and Google Meet video conferencing tools so that students could share their discoveries live, evaluate their own work and the work of peers. Live Internet interaction of students of the High Vocational School Ban Josip Jelačić was held online with students from Croatia, Poland. Students had the opportunity to meet a new teacher mentor (hosting expert) from Australia in one school hour. In this way, the students could learn from world-renowned experts. As part of the project, global tree planting was done and many schools joined PlantED’s actions. Students around the world planted trees and were even able to send their drawings and prototypes to Mars. Students were able to create small inventions, gain a deeper understanding and research.
European Week of Skills Acquired in Vocational Education
Students and teachers exchanged experiences and knowledge gained by participating in the project and developed a plan of activities and cooperation for the future. The project was disseminated as part of the European Week of Skills Acquired in Vocational Education and Training through an online lecture and workshop “E-student for a greener future“ and provided answers to the questions about green and digital transition in the new normal.
“Breathe deeply & Think clearly”
The eTwinning project “Breathe deeply & Think clearly” aims to raise awareness about the importance of sustainable development and to educate students about global and local problems caused by climate change. By working on the project, students from partner countries will become aware of the importance of green and digital transition in the fight against climate change. Through the project, all participating students will learn how to transform eating habits and eat green organic healthy food exchanging and presenting their ideas for a better tomorrow. Students will understand that sustainable development is based on inclusive development, responsible management of natural resources and prevention and adaptation to climate change by encouraging “green growth” sustainability and nutrition education. A number of activities will promote the sustainable management of natural resources, in particular land, forests, water, coastal areas and fisheries, in order to protect ecosystems and biodiversity and combat desertification.
Immersed in climate change topics
The aim of all the projects is to make students aware of the importance of combating climate change, to change the behaviour and thinking of students regarding climate change and threats to the environment. Each week, students learned about climate change and linked it to economics, making different materials using available digital tools such as Linoit, PosterMyWall, Mentimeter, Padlet, Youtube, Zoom, Google tools and more. During the project, students and teachers were virtually connected with other students and teachers from around the world and represented Sinj and the school. Students explored, collaborated, discussed, created, had fun, connected, presented, and shared their discoveries through weekly assignments, presentations, and videos. Each week, students completed assignments and created videos of their findings that were posted on the project’s website. By solving project activities, students acquired new skills such as creativity, empathy, real-world problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking. By watching videos of their peers, learning becomes more authentic.
Strenghtening teaching competences
By respecting sustainable development goals and achieving innovative virtual and project teaching teachers are introduced to the benefits and challenges of the virtual environment. Teachers strengthen their competencies for the implementation of interactive and interdisciplinary methodological scenario, innovative virtual and project inter-school cooperation and school networking, as a new model of modernization of teaching in the modern classroom and in the modernization of schools which is the goal of the lecture.
Introducing new pedagogical specifics of methods and techniques, possibilities and principles of using digital technology in teaching for the realization of the teaching process. They identify suitable digital tools and platforms, analyze their characteristics and possibilities of purposeful application, a critical approach to the selection of suitable technology for work with the realization of planned outcomes. In order for all students to use their opportunities and be equally involved, it is necessary to adapt methods, activities and forms of work to the needs of students with special educational needs, provide support and give them a sense of value. When working, risks should be anticipated because there is always the possibility of an uncertain event.
What did students learn?
Students developed and acquired a new language, presentation, communication, intercultural and digital competencies using modern digital technology in their classroom to find and structure content, present and share their findings. Students discover new ICT tools while making presentations, recording videos, setting up virtual interactions, creating digital content, and thinking on blogs.
This approach to teaching students develops the necessary professional, digital, communication and language skills that are necessary for the implementation of project implementation activities in the teaching process. The project learning and participating in projects are significant because students and teachers through project activities are using new innovative pedagogical approaches to learning: collaborative learning, research learning, learning through play, project learning, learning from experts, acquired new knowledge and skills of the 21st century and accepted UN goals of sustainable development – “17 goals for Sustainable Development”.
As a result of project activities, the project “Student actions in the fight against climate change – Greener tomorrow”, implemented by the Eco Group SSŠBJJ Sinj, was placed as one of the finalists for the annual award “Yellow Framework for Sustainable Development”, a project implemented for the second year in a row by National Geographic Croatia and the company Adria Media Zagreb, also known as the” yellow carpet for celebrities of the future”.