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Helping Schools Succeed in the 2012/2013 school year

12. October 2012 The two pilot schools (Praha 4 - Kunratice Elementary School and Mendelova Elementary School in Karviná) continue in the project for the third year. From August 2012, two new schools, the Horka Elementary School in Moravia and the Zdice Elementary School, have been taken on board following an application procedure. Hence, the team of teaching consultants has expanded to four as well.

The new schools benefit from the experience of what we refer to as the ‘initiating assigned pilot school’. They fully participated in the project’s traditional activities such as the August training camps for teachers and principals and the periodic inter-school sharing of experience during the course of the school year. They are working on an evaluation of their own current condition at present and preparing to develop their first plan of the school’s pedagogic development and each of the teachers’ own development plans.

August 2012 saw the beginning of the work of a group set up for the development of the project’s standard for the quality of teachers’ work. Each project school has delegated its representatives to the group. Anybody in the school who is interested can join the development of the standard.

The role of the internal mentors from the ranks of teachers is increasing at both pilot schools. They help, on an individual basis, their colleagues with specific problems in teaching, and invite them to their own open classes, which they subsequently get together to consider and analyze, they share their teaching materials, etc. In addition, in the 2012/13 school year they are organizing, at the Kunratice school, a series of critical thinking workshops for their colleagues and in between the workshops help them implement new methods in everyday practice. At the Karviná school, the mentors focus on support for the individualization of teaching.

Emphasis on work with the goals of education and with formative assessment is growing stronger throughout the whole project. The objective is that, following the end of the five-year scheme, every teacher at the schools involved in the project will be able to continuously assess the impact of their work on every student’s learning outcomes and continuously modify their teaching so that it actually results in every child learning.

In September 2012, the team for the development of Mathematics Diagnostic Maps based on Professor Milan Hejný’s concept started to work. Experts cooperating with volunteering teachers work at each of the project schools.

The team for Reading Diagnostic Maps has reached the stage where it is verifying the first version of a complete Diagnostic Map. The pilot stage includes teachers from the project schools and 20 teachers from 16 off-project schools. Accompanying teaching materials, in the form of texts and a set of video examples documenting the desirable level of students’ performance in reading skills, are being produced.

For the purposes of literacy, we have recorded three sections of a video textbook showing some illustrative practical topics for teaching. We will continue in the spring.

We are working hard on designing the network of cooperating schools, which is expected to begin operating in the 2013/14 school year. We are also thinking out our offer to a still broader group of those who may be interested in our experience.

The project management team went on an inspirational study trip to the Canadian province of Ontario in the fall. They brought back a number of suggestions both for the project schools and for the educational system. They are gradually putting this experience to use.

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