Last year, Royal Mile Primary School took part in a teacher exchange with a school in Madrid. Our school, Colegio Ciudad de Roma is right in the center of Madrid, near the beautiful Parque del Retiro. Our teacher, Gill Charlesworth, had a fantastic time in Madrid during the February break. Her time there was very worthwhile and she particularly enjoyed observing how children learn English in Spain from a very early age and how the Modern Languages curriculum progress is organised. On her return, children at our school had the opportunity to explore a variety of topics about Spain and we displayed our work around the school. The Spanish teachers visited us later in the year and they found our active curriculum fascinating and expressed their wish to learn more about it. They also praised our cooperative learning and our use of ICT in learning and teaching.
This December, Ana Speedie, from Royal Mile, will be visiting Madrid again for a week and she will deliver some lessons about our wonderful city, Edinburgh, to P1 students at Ciudad de Roma. We will explore active learning and carrousel activities.
Monday, 1st December
We have arrived in Madrid this evening. Pablo and Oscar, representatives of the bilingual project from the Education Department welcomed us at the airport and showed us around the Christmas Markets. After some refreshments, we made our way to our hotel for some rest.
Tuesday, 2nd December
It’s been a busy day! We had a very informative tour of Bilingual Colegio Ortega y Gasset. Pupils and staff were very attentive and we had a chance to meet our project colleagues and to spend some time sharing our teaching and learning plans for the week with Maria. Later in the afternoon we visited our own school, Bilingual Colegio Ciudad de Roma. Again, we had a tour of the school and got organized for our lessons.
Wednesday, 3rd December
Today, we arrived early at Bilingual Colegio Ciudad de Roma ready for a day of teaching. I was asked to teach two Grade 2 classes a lesson about Edinburgh. When the Spanish teachers visited our school in Edinburgh earlier in the year, they were very interested in our active and co-operative approach to learning at teaching. They asked us if we could use these strategies when we delivered our lessons in Madrid. My lesson on Edinburgh opened with a Power Point about Edinburgh during which children were encouraged to ask and answer questions and shared their previous knowledge of our country and our city. We also shared learning intentions and success criteria. Pupils then took part in a carrousel of activities aimed at exploring aspects of the lesson from different perspectives, such as design, storytelling, using an Atlas, learning key vocabulary, etc. At the end of the lesson, we gathered together for some self/peer assessment and we learnt a Ceilidh style dance. Teachers and staff discussed with us the fact that this lesson style is quite a new concept for them at Bilingual Colegio Ciudad de Roma, however, we all enjoyed the lesson and children did very well at following instructions and trying new experiences.
Later in the day, I team teached a Grade 3 class with my partner Rachel, from James Gillespies. The focus of this lesson, again, was to gather information about Edinburgh and create a poster showcasing their learning using a co-operative approach. Again, despite the fact that this was a somewhat new experience for staff and children, they thoroughly enjoyed it and engaged well during our lesson.
Later in the day, we were invited to attend a fantastic social event at Bilingual Colegio Joaquin Blume. We had a great time and had the opportunity to learn about Spanish art and culture. Pupils and staff treated us to an evening of music, dance and beautiful Spanish food. This was a good chance to sit down with teachers at Ciudad de Roma to discuss how our teaching day went. They were very keen in learning more about active learning and teaching and we praised their bilingual schools and the high expectations on children’s literacy skills both in Spanish and English.
Thursday, 4th December
After such a busy day yesterday, we have had some time to rest and get to know the city this morning. In the evening, we attended a lecture at Universidad Juan Carlos I. We explored different aspects related to Bilingual Education in Comunidad de Madrid such as teacher training and the use of native speaker language assistants at the bilingual schools. We also listened to presentations about active learning and took part in a workshop on co-operative work delivered by Ann Robertson.
Friday, 5th December
We are flying back to Edinburgh this evening. It has been an amazing and extremely busy week. We have learnt so much and feel so excited about exploring ways to use our experience to enhance our Modern Languages Programmes back home. Our curriculum in Scotland is already one of the best in Europe and adding some of the aspects we have had the chance to experience here in Madrid, will be a fantastic opportunity for teachers and pupils. We are planning to meet again in two weeks to discuss our time in Madrid and the way forward to implement bilingual teaching opportunities in our schools. We had some time to further enjoy this city and say goodbye to our colleagues in Madrid.
What a fantastic week!