On the 17th and 18th of August, teachers from Estonian schools and kindergartens met in Varstu, in southern Estonia for a national meeting on Hob’s adventure. As it was a beautiful sunny day, the teachers focused on physical activities and learning by doing, both in theory and in practice. They used the opportunity to develop new lesson plans and hone old ones in the wild, where most of them would be put to practice. This proved to be a fruitful strategy as the teachers made good progress and seemed to be genuinely inspired. Our experience demonstrates an important facet of this method – people tend to work better when they combine physical exercise with mental work.
Another important goal was to further develop a sense of cooperation and teamwork. So in between meetings and educational hikes, teachers got to play disc golf, a relaxing physical activity. We want to achieve a future for our children where they grow up in an environment that is cooperative and supporting, and this often requires practicing doing competitive activities in a friendly and nurturing setting. While our teachers clearly didn’t have problems with cooperation, everyone seemed to have a good time putting this idea into practice during the game.
During the sit-downs, we took stock of progress on project goals, seeing which lesson plans cover which topics and aims, and which require additional lesson plans or amendments to existing drafts. We were surprised to find that most goals were already covered in one way or another, and very few changes have to be made. This allows for a more free and creative approach in the months ahead.
In the same vein, we discussed the two projects that were not finished in Iceland: one on photosynthesis and another on insects and plants. Teachers came up with new ideas for these lesson plans, including games such as the “photosynthesis incantation”, which goes something like this:
Slurp water from earth,
suck gasses from air,
feed using the sun!
Give us back lifegiving air,
green leaves to eat and share,
lest the Earth ends up bare!
Due to the fact that the project is nearing the national and international lesson plan testing phase, we went over the planned schedule once again. There will be several rounds of testing. First, a national testing phase with a deadline on the 12th of September. Then an international testing phase concluding on the 4th of October. The question of distributing lesson plans for testing was raised. We decided to allow teachers to pick some of each other’s lesson plans to test. It was interesting and useful to see which lesson plans were chosen and why, as it gave an indication on which ones are going to be universally applicable and considered innovative by teachers themselves. There was so much enthusiasm, some teachers wanted to do preliminary testing immediately.
This is a run-up to perhaps the most interesting transnational meeting coming up in Slovenia, where we finally get to discuss all the lesson plans and make a preliminary selection for the handbook of all the different ideas and resulting lesson plans we’ve been working for over a year to compile.