Domeikava Gymnasium has considerable experience in conducting adult learning activities and school partnerships, but today we would like to share our teachers and students’ experience in a project that particularly promotes self-directed learning skills and competencies. The Cielo project involves schools from Italy, Croatia, Romania and Lithuania. Learning platform and teaching methodology creators from Italy and scientific partners from Zagreb university. This project consists of distance learning activities, development of intellectual products and mobility.
The strategy of the CiELO project is based on the students’ experience, which is enriched with new competencies and skills. One of the first tasks was to create a 1-minute video, called ,,Elevator pitch” by answering a few questions related to personal attitudes and experiences towards sustainability. While preparing the assignment, students thought about what sustainability means to them and their families, then compared their experiences by watching video presentations made by peers from other countries. Later, the researchers of the University of Zagreb became involved in the learning activities, therefore the students’ knowledge was supplemented with scientific findings and facts. Learning activities took place in an inclusive virtual environment. Online learning activities had been attended by 6 teachers involved in the project, who later assisted the students by instructing and counseling them. The material on the platform is presented in such a way that each learner can find a more suitable way: to watch video lectures or to read the material prepared by researchers. Students completed each topic and activity by taking self-assessment tests and doing the final test.
The previous phase of the project has helped to move to self-directed learning activity – the Flipped classroom. Students themselves chose a narrower learning topic related to water, soil and sustainability, analyzed it, explored various sources and came to the class with reasonable understanding, which was complemented by the teachers’ comments and observations. The initially intimidating method of Flipped classroom proved to be really efficient and enjoyable. The freedom to choose how and what sources to study gave students self-confidence, responsibility for their own learning, enhanced collaboration and group work. This method, although long known, is not very popular, but within the framework of this project it proved that students have memorized much more information by immersing in the subject chosen. They also improved the English language, time planning skills, became teachers for each other, prepared mini-lessons with inclusive activities, presentations, used various self-assessment apps (Kahoot, Padlet, Mentimeter), and promotional methods (Sweets).
The Flipped classroom approach provides the method of teaching in a broad sense. From a passive participant, the student becomes an active creator and constructor of their knowledge with increased involvement and mentoring. Not only can students teach each other, they can learn in teams and pairs, present the topic under research to the class and receive the feedback from the teacher. The activities help to strengthen critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration. This approach helps to foster sustainable learning in and out of the classroom, facilitates the work of the teacher as it facilitates the learning process and helps students when they have questions or problems. We are currently preparing for mobility activities in Zagreb, where students will take part in a debate with representatives of other participating schools. They will be led by researchers from the Civicamente and the University of Zagreb. The project not only leads to sustainability and knowledge about resources, their importance, but also helps to young people develop self-directed learning skills, sustainable knowledge and this way achieve personal learning success.