Students in the International Baccalaureate program at Nesbru upper secondary school learn what teacher Tor Øyvind Andersen calls ‘international-mindedness’.
Courses are taught in English and the curriculum has an international focus with the intent of instilling intercultural understanding among students. itslearning is a supporting pillar in this work.
The platform makes it possible for Tor Øyvind to mitigate cultural differences and use engaging teaching resources to prepare students to work in a modern, multinational workforce. It also helps that the two organizations share a common pedagogical focus. Here, Tor Øyvind tells us how he embraced modern methods, including animations and simulations, in a subject that traditionally has shied away alternative teaching techniques. “If you look at the history of teaching chemistry, there has traditionally been one way of teaching the subject. That has significantly changed in the last decade,” he says.
Personalized learning is the buzz word making the rounds in education circles, but sometimes it helps when students also can communicate anonymously to their teachers, says Tor Øyvind Andersen, a chemistry teacher at Nesbru upper secondary school.
Anonymous surveys key to gauging student progress
This is especially true at the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Nesbru where students from different countries–about a third of the 60 IB students are non-Norwegians–come together to complete their high school education. For the students enrolled in Nesbru’s IB program, which covers the last two years at high school in Norway, the international focus of the curriculum will prepare them for a career in a multicultural environment.
Teaching students with different backgrounds presents special challenges. Tor Øyvind recalls one of his former students, a girl from an Asian country. To his dismay she never seemed to improve, and whenever he asked her if she was struggling she would insist that everything was fine. “At the time I did not realize that, in her culture, it was insulting to tell the teacher that she did not understand the curriculum,” he explains.
Breaking down cultural barriers to learning
Today, Tor Øyvind uses the itslearning survey tool to monitor students’ understanding of the learning material in addition to speaking with students one on one. “The itslearning survey tool is like a temperature meter in my classroom. I use it in every session. I survey the students asking things such as ‘what don’t you understand?’ ‘Are the assignments too easy?’ ‘Are you panicking?’” Tor Øyvind explains. “We do this on a regular basis and I end up with a clear picture of where my students are. This even works for students who are not bold enough to speak up in class, because they know they will remain anonymous. I only wish I had this tool with my former student. I think she would be more willing to share with me what she did not understand.”
Tor Øyvind surveys his students to guage knowledge and activate previous knowledge.
itslearning surveys can be used in courses and projects to discern student opinion on a particular topic. A poll can be inserted as a content block on your landing page or course page and the results can be viewed as percentages. In chemistry, Tor Øyvind also uses surveys as advance organizers to activate the students’ previous knowledge before starting on a new topic.
Everything in one place
When Tor Øyvind first started using itslearning in eight years ago, he used it mainly for course management. “I posted class notices on the course dashboard. I wrote notes about upcoming topics so students could prepare beforehand,” he explains.
Today, his practice has evolved to include uploading multimedia content and practicing assessment for learning, a focus area at Nesbru upper secondary school. “The tools in itslearning fit nicely into assessment for learning. itslearning facilitates assessment for learning by making it possible to integrate tests and assignments into subjects. It puts the focus on the learning aspect, not on the final grades the students received.”