Unleashing Creativity: The Story of TeK.escolaglobal Empowering Students with Technology

escolaglobal® is a private Portuguese group of schools located in 3 different towns of Santa Maria da Feira, a municipality close to Porto. We have been a Microsoft Showcase School since 2015 with students from all levels; preschool, elementary, middle and high school.

Since then, we embraced a technological project that has been changing the pedagogical paradigm in our school. All of our 650 students are nowadays part of a learning model that naturally integrates technology in their daily life. All of them have a personal notebook and they can use it at school and at home: ACER Travelmate 11.6”FHD/ Celeron CDN3450/ 1x4GB/ 64GBSSD w/BT/Pen/4cells).

ACER Case Study - escolaglobal®

But it wasn’t always like this… We started with small steps.

It was in the school year of 2015/2016 when we decided to bring technology to our classes with the TeK.escolaglobal project. We planned a 1 to 1 solution with students from 2 to 9 years old having a personal tablet and students from 10 to 18 having a notebook. However, in preschool and elementary, we only had partial WiFi Coverage and very limited use of the tablet in the classroom (only one hour a day).

This is a video created last year by the Portuguese Microsoft team about our project.

escolaglobal® - Microsoft Showcase School

All of our students have an Office 365 account that allows them to access many different tools, among which the Outlook stood out from the start, making communication between students-teachers and teachers-parents easier; the OneNote, became a virtual organizer, very helpful for group projects and to share content; Sway, brought a new dynamic to presentations; and Yammer, for contact with students from other schools.

One example of an activity within the classroom:

Learning about electric circuits in the physics lab

All of these changes allowed us to explore the Flipped Classroom teaching model. Our teachers produce video-lessons with key concepts that students can access at anytime, anywhere. Then, in the classroom, teachers and students share a more interactive experience, with more space for discussion and practical exercises.

An example of an English video-lesson:

Verb tense revision

We also started coding lessons from Preschool to Middle School, using bee-bots, pro-bots, scratch/blocky and python.

We adopted a storytelling strategy by creating a family of characters, the Oliveira’s family, whose stories appeared in the exercises produced by teachers.

Python Video Lesson #1

Python Video Lesson #2

Then moving into the second year of TeK.escolaglobal. We started providing our students new learning experiences like Project Based Learning. In PBL, our students had to develop a project to increase sustainable tourism in our region. At the end of the year, more than 20 different activities were organized by our students, from preschool to middle school, all over the most important touristic points.

Project Based-Learning

New learning experiences ask for new learning spaces. That’s what our teachers started demanding. Therefore, in June 2017, we founded the Nautilus Collaborative Innovation Lab, the first ecological building of the region and it became home to our new future classroom lab. The CoIL has six different learning zones, flexible furniture, interactive boards and a TV studio that students can use creatively.

  • Collaborative Innovation Lab (pdf file).
  • Collaborative Innovation Lab (website).

We also increased the use of Skype in the classroom to communicate with other realities and people from all over the world. A solidarity project called "Ha ir e Voltar" put our students in contact with the children from one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Kenya, to raise awareness and money to help those kids.

STEM Skype call - Godchildren from Kenya

We use Yammer to create an online English learning exchange project with other schools.

Please refer to this video in which our students are presenting the school to some students from Switzerland:

Xchange 2017 escolaglobal® - Our School

Following onto the third and current year of the TeK.escolaglobal project. The evolution of our infrastructures allowed our teachers to continue innovating and our students to start searching for knowledge in a more autonomous way. We were chosen by Microsoft to be the Portuguese school with a STEM integrated approach. Six of our teachers were in Copenhagen to learn how to hack the classroom. Therefore, we are now developing STEM activities in our school, where students develop interdisciplinary projects with different tools: LEGO WeDo 2.0, Paint 3D, Micro:bit and Minecraft. Here’s an example:

STEM Activities - Lego WeDo 2.0

STEM Classes - Paint 3D

Nowadays, our students are more motivated and active within the learning process and our teachers more involved and engaging with multidisciplinary activities.

We are preparing the future of these kids bringing them closer to the 21st century skills. But the journey is long, so take small baby steps each time...

And remember, technology is just a tool, but it is the most effective one and teacher’s best friend...