The Learning Schools Conference, attended by 195 participants was held in the Royal Castle in Warsaw on June 14. The subject was to set down the success criteria, as they are an important element of the learning process. The Conference was held jointly with the all-Poland Youth Projects Presentation (OPPM). In Kubicki Arcades of the Royal Castle the students and teachers presented results of projects in the field of civil, legal, local government, global and environmental education development that were managed by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation over the last school year. The participants of the Conference could learn about these projects visiting the project presentation stalls as well as talking to the project authors and participants.
The event was attended by 430 people such as school principals, teachers, students, parents and representatives of organizations and institutions interested or involved in teaching and learning processes.
Both components of the meeting were organized by the Center for Citizenship Education (CEO), which together with the Polish-American Freedom Foundation have been implementing the “Learning Schools” Program for 16 years.
The Conference was opened by Mr. Paweł Tyszka, Manager of the Education Department of the Royal Castle in Warsaw, who welcomed the participants and gave CEO the possession of the Castle for a day of the Conference so that the Castle became a temple of knowledge and joy.
The participants listened to the inaugural lecture given by CEO President Dr. Jacek Strzemieczny, who emphasized how important it is to move school education from the area of shallow knowledge domination to that of teaching key skills and understanding. He pointed to the fact that educating is much more a social process than it is commonly believed, therefore it is important that the school is not geared to individual success but to the team work, which means that studying should be based on students’ activity and cooperation.
Government Plenipotentiary for Civil Society Wojciech Kaczmarczyk noted that school is a very special place, where many entities meet: young people, teachers, parents, local government and the state. All of them shall participate in making decisions and planning as well as in the process of implementing school activities. The Government Plenipotentiary emphasized that the area of civil education is very important for Poland, thus school should teach young people skills important in social life, including participation in decision making.
Alicja Pacewicz, CEO Vice President and the author of the “School with Class” idea, also spoke about significance of youth civil and social involvement. It is expressed, among other things, in projects presented at OPPM. Ms. Pacewicz noted that regardless of its objective, implementing the project teaches students listening to each other, as well as cooperation and planning their activities.
Dr. Katarzyna Maniszewska of PAFF congratulated the student teams that presented their projects at the Youth Projects Presentation and their teachers. Dr. Maniszewska presented also the School of Education of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and the University of Warsaw – a new, innovative post-graduate study course for future teachers.
The panel discussions on formative assessment (FA) and one of that method’s tools: working with students’ copybooks, were the opportunity for the conference participants to hear opinions of experts but also those who take benefit of FA method on everyday basis, that is principals, teachers as well as parents and students at the junior high school level. They all shared their experiences, presented the results of introduction into their schools of goal strategy and success criteria, and answered the conference participants’ questions.
Danuta Sterna – an expert in formative assessment and the author of the concept of working with students’ copybooks (OK zeszyt) – spoke about that method, its development and grassroots introduction into school practice by teachers. The expert presented also the plans to open the course of OK zeszyt in the forthcoming school year.
“Learning Schools” (LES) is the program for principals and teachers of all types of schools that has been implemented by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation and PAFF. The program supports effectiveness of learning and teaching. Among its main objectives are promotion and introduction to schools the method of formative assessment and supporting team working by teachers.
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