What creative and interesting teaching is like at Savremena International
Take a peek into our modern classes
Creativity, interactivity and dynamic teaching are interwoven into the very fibre of Savremena International School and by extension into each lesson and every subject taught at the school. At Savremena, teaching is so interesting that students are always eager to find out that they will be doing next. The learning process extends through various kinds of fun intellectual challenges so that the knowledge acquired is retained more efficiently.
We will now demonstrate just some examples of how our students acquired knowledge in a truly different way because that is the best way to truly experience the unforgettable learning experience our students enjoy at Savremena International School.
A reenactment of the Treaty of Versailles Conference and the events of 1919 accompanied by chansons and French “wine”
One of the ways our students learned about the Versailles Conference was through a reenactment exercise in which, divided into three groups representing the victor states in WW1 - France, Russia and the UK, students selected a group leader that represented them in the conference. Other students had the chance to offer advice and suggestions to their representative during the discussion through the chat service.
Each group received guidelines in terms of the specific goals they should strive to achieve in the discussion to be awarded points. The group with the most points was declared the winner. The debate was heated, as was the original conference. Afterwards, students told their history teacher Sanja Bogdanović that they thoroughly enjoyed such a learning activity and that it helped them attain a better test score.
Since the students showed immense interest in the Versailles Conference, the following class they wrote a news article in the name of France, Germany and the UK, once again divided into three groups. The goal was to write a number of short newspaper articles examining and commenting on the treaty terms from the point of view of a French, German and English reporter. In that, students first explored actual news articles from that time to get a sense for the way the three representatives interpreted the Peace Treaty.
The third installment of this interesting workshop took place during the following lesson in the form of a simulation. Students simulated a discussion that took place on the 29th of June 1919 in a French cafe between a group of people from France, Germany and the UK who read their papers and discussed whether or not the Peace Treaty terms had been fair. The newspapers they used were in fact the articles students wrote during the previous lesson. Students read the articles as they listened to French chansons while sipping on apple and blackcurrant juice that symbolised wine and beer i.e. the national drinks of the said countries.
Become a part of a culture to understand it better
During their geography lesson, students took part in a workshop where they were divided into pairs in order to understand the structure of the world’s population and to learn about the world religions. Each pair conducted an investigations and then presented their findings on the teachings and secrets of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism to their classmates, assuming aliases characteristic of these religions.
Geography teacher Ivan Matejić divided the lesson into three parts. During the first part students worked in pairs and researched the Bible, the Quran, the Tripitaka and the Shruti. After that, in accordance with the religion they explored, students received new names to go along with the religion. Muhammad and Aisha presented the traditions of Islam to their peers. Lakshmi familiarised her peers with Hindu gods Shiva - the destroyer and Vishnu the creator. Milodarka and Jill discussed the similarities and the differences within Christianity, the symbolism of the cross, and Sakjasniha told his peers about the teachings and the philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama.
The „Meeting of Religions” was concluded with everyone agreeing that everyone is equal in their differences, thus promoting the message of peace, tolerance and mutual respect. The workshop was so interesting, useful and insightful that the teacher himself admitted to learning a thing or two from the student presentations even though he had researched different world religions in the past.
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Presentations and online tests for creative learning
An essential part of each maths lesson at Savremena International School are the presentations rich with examples as well as the use of additional software for learning and practicing mathematics. Students have, among many other online programmes, used this one https://www.desmos.com/calculator to draw functions.
In completing their homework assignments, students make use of various online tools especially the Nearpod application through which they can keep track of their results and their mistakes in order not to repeat them in the future.
Even tests and knowledge assessments are done online so that classes are made as comfortable as possible. With the help of ambient music and adjusted lighting the students are made to feel at home.
One of the tasks students were given was to design a mathematical comic strip and through it present what they had learned in class in a creative and innovative way. It’s classes like these that help overcome the stereotype where mathematics is seen as a dry and difficult subject and students truly experience the joys of learning it.
Learning through experiments and charades
At the beginning of the school year, students completed a number of questionnaires in order to acquaint themselves as much as possible with their chemistry teacher Bojana Jurišić. The goal of the Your Voice Questionnaire was for Bojana to familiarise herself with her students and find out how they think. The where we are and where we want to be questionnaire enabled her to evaluate the kind of background knowledge students were entering her class with and thus adapt her teaching methods accordingly. In the end, the teacher and the students made an agreement that regulates the rights and obligations of both parties.
In order to show students how intertwined the sciences really are and that everything can in one way or another be traced back to chemistry, the chemistry teacher brought different everyday objects like copper bracelets, pencils, plastic toys, shells, eye shadows, etc. to her lesson. She then explained the different characteristics of each object.
That way, students learned the connection that chemistry shares with biology, geography, philosophy as well as other sciences which were explored in more detail during the lessons on the atmosphere and the hydrosphere. Students also watched a movie about space and answered questions like “what is space made of?, what is the structure of space?, what is science?, what is the role of science?” while listening to the instrumental version of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Laboratory experiments are a common way to both acquire and test one’s knowledge in practice, which is how chemistry surpasses the use of paper and truly comes to life. Experiments are an excellent way to warm students up to the subject matter and to demonstrate how chemistry knowledge is not just an academic requirement but a useful life skill.
Another creative activity conducted in our chemistry lessons was an association game where students had to explain a lab dish or a piece of lab equipment to their peers by using keywords and miming. The idea was to have students work in pairs whereby they would take turns in guessing the term their partner was describing for 30 seconds. In the first round, they were allowed to describe the terms by any means necessary except through the use of root words. In the second round, they were only allowed to say one key word that was supposed to help their partner figure out the term in question. In the third round, students had to mime the word.
This is a good way to spark student creativity, competitiveness, resourcefulness and bring them together through games while knowledge is smoothly acquired throughout.
Such unique and creative teaching techniques help bring down the wall that often stands between students and teachers and in the way of efficient learning. They also help establish a sense of mutual trust, respect and familiarity between students and their teacher. This was just another example of how learning can take place in a different way through games and mental challenges instead of the classical ways like rote learning and drill assessments.
Cooperation and teamwork in practice
During their biology lessons, our students had the opportunity to design and conduct the lessons on their own, to create what they believe is the perfect lesson, to work together in groups, make cell models, and more.
Students agreed that their most exciting biology lesson was the one when they put their cooperation and creativity to the test by trying to create as tall a structure as they could from spaghetti, rope and sellotape.
The viral Marshmallow Challenge was a perfect opportunity for our students to develop their ideas, collaboration skills, resourcefulness and leadership skills.
Laboratory work requires careful planning and teamwork both of which truly came to light at Savremena International School.
Video experiments for interactive learning
Our physics teacher Tijana Marinkovic keeps improving and refreshing her lessons and making the application of video presentations, animations and simulations of different physical processes more accessible to her student. Thanks to her efforts, our students can observe a physical process in the form of a video experiment, while at the same time being able to affect the process by directly changing the relevant parameters on their iPads.
Students often use www.phet.colorado.edu, a useful physics learning resource rich in interesting simulations and animated explanations of various physical phenomena.
Tijana encourages her students to practice solving physics problems by having one student solve a problem on the interactive whiteboard while other students carefully follow on their computers and tablets. In an effort to inspire her students and ignite their interest in physics even more, in addition to the regular homework assignments, Tijana hands out voluntary homework that is a bit more challenging whose completion guarantees an excellent mark in physics.
Classes structured in such a way help inspire students to explore the world of physics and they actively break down any preconceived notions students may have regarding the subject’s difficulty. Physics is made relatable and fun at Savremena International School.
A truly different approach to teaching family relations
One of the topics covered in our sociology classes involved a discussion on the family unit and its role in society. The discussion was introduced by the theories of sociologists Talcott Parsons and Ann Oakley as well as people like Margaret Thatcher and Princess Diana.
The discussion encouraged students to try and come up with their own definition of what constitutes a family based on their experiences and personal observations and with the use of some key terms for describing families like monogamy, marriage, children, support and love. Here are some of the definitions students came up with:
- A family is a unit made up of people held together by love and biology. (Darija Vuković, Year 12)
- A family is a unit made up of people who are related by blood and who are building a joint future. They live under the same roof and have different interests. They love and support each other. (Anita Spasojević, Year 12)
- A family is usually defined as a unit made up of people who are connected in some way. The connection can be a blood relation or based on interdependence in an economic, practical and emotional sense. Even though there are many different kinds of families and even though sociologists may not always agree on what constitutes a family, the fact remains that a family is a unit made up of people who have common interests. (Nikola Kuzmanović, Year 12)
After this, sociology teacher Željko Jovanović asked the students to think about the following question from the the perspective of our modern way of life: Is the nuclear family (consisting of a father, a mother and their children), the universal (dominant) family type in all societies, as claimed by George P. Murdock, or do our experiences tell us otherwise? After a brief discussion in which students expressed their agreement or disagreement with the given idea, they listened to an interview with four people from the UK whose concept of the family unit does not comply with the idea of a nuclear family because it is comprised of a single parent, the extended family and same-sex parents.
The discussion also covered families in other cultures that are outside of Europe. Students found out what the family unit means to the Ik tribe in Uganda, Afro-Caribbean families and in a kibbutz in Israel among other things.
After discussing the family unit, its different forms and features, students had to research and find interesting examples of families and family relations that differ from Murdock’s (and the Western) take on the nuclear family as the dominant and universal family type.
Virtual tour of a prehistoric cave
Arts teacher Ana Manojlović incorporated a virtual tour through the Lascaux cave as well as fun sculpting activities into her lesson whereby students got the chance to create clay sculptures akin to the neolithic art found at the Vinca archaeological site.
Ana introduced the topic of the lesson by having students close their eyes and imagine themselves walking through the forests on the southwest of France only to discover one of the most famous caves in the world that boasts some of the finest examples of prehistoric cave art. As they opened their eyes, students could continue exactly where they left off, namely at the entrance into the Lascaux cave. Ana prepared a virtual tour through the cave because in order to preserve its art Lascaux was officially closed to the public. However, thanks to their teacher’s ingenuity, students were still able to look around the cave and observe the animal drawings on the walls as if they were really in the cave.
Later on in the lesson, students were able to try their hand at making clay totems and amulets inspired by prehistoric art. Through the creative process, they discovered what they can do, stretched out their imagination, connected knowledge from various disciplines all of which culminated in exquisite pieces of prehistoric yet truly modern art. All of this was complemented by the visit to the Vinča archaeological site where students explored one of the oldest cultures to have ever inhabited these regions.
Even more fun: Fencing and bowling during PE
PE teacher Stefan Radojičić prepared a real treat for the students by giving them an ideal opportunity to try their hand at some new sports because they may not find the time to try them out on their own.
Besides visiting the Dynamic sports center where they played the usual team sports, and took part in aerobics and swimming exercises, our students also tried their hand at some new sports like fencing and bowling.
The fencers at the Red Star Fencing Club taught students about fencing techniques upon which they got to put on the appropriate fencing gear, practice with a saber and test their skills in a duel.
When it comes to bowling, after the initial shy attempts, students loosened up and started having fun as they knocked down pins.
Harry Potter, zombies and casting spells during classes
Aiming to modernise her classes and adapt them in the best possible way to the affinities of her modern students, Savremena’s Latin teacher Natalija Stanković pleasantly surprised her students when she based her lesson around the Harry Potter franchise, as a way to inspire some Halloween spirit for the upcoming costume party. Natalija impeccably dressed for the occasion, came to her lesson in a black robe resembling that worn by the teachers at Hogwarts, the school for witchcraft and wizardry from the Harry Potter movies.
Students discussed magic, magical symbols and rituals in English upon which they had to decipher further instructions in Latin with the help of the Caesar cipher method to figure out which ingredients go into certain potions. This way, three languages - Latin, English and Serbian were incorporated into the lesson and Latin which is a dead language was able to come to life once again and shine alongside two modern language one of which, English is even considered to be the language of the future.
Students were divided into four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin), and with the help of their magic wands and some magical ingredients, they learned how to cast a spell that would for example make them dream of their crush uttering the words SOMNIUM AMORIS. In addition, students learned some basic spells in Latin which they can use to defend themselves or launch an attack, depending on the situation they’re in.
The part of the lesson where students were the most creative was when they fought against the Monsters of Halloween, by applying what they had learned about werewolves, witches, mummies, zombies, ghosts and other such ghouls and their new-found magic skills against them. They waved their wands and cast their spells, selecting the most effective one against each monster. When paired with a mummy, they used the Incendio spell, because the only way to beat a mummy which is covered in bandages is to incinerate it.
We hereby invite you to take part in our little school of magic with the Crafting potions and spells presentation that was used in class.
Poems and stories inspired by “scary” music
Another rather interesting lesson centered around Halloween was the English language lesson where students wrote poems and stories inspired by some “scary” music. Students closed their eyes and enjoyed the Halloween spirit as they listened to the vampire film theme after which they wrote down the things they associated with the music. They exchanged their ideas in pairs and based their poems and stories around those ideas. English language teacher Tamara Koranjić handed out useful words students could implement in their writing and to enrich their vocabulary. To read the stories and poems that students wrote during this lesson, click here.
They also tried their hand at decoding SOS messages and designing the most enchanted Halloween menu ever.
Unlike the traditional teacher-focused style of lessons, this particular English lesson was just another example of Savremena’s approach that enables students to draw their own conclusions, exchange their views and learn something new from each other. The unique set of activities included in the class was the perfect way for students to connect different stimuli e.g. music and images and to use words as a means of achieving a specific effect, much like the one that results from music or photography.
During another truly different English class, students had to write content for their chat-room profile. Before that, they watched a presentation on how to create a good profile, how to organise the different topics they are writing about into paragraphs, and what vocabulary they should use. The relaxed atmosphere of the lesson was complemented with the appropriate soundtrack.
Andric - the easy way and writing a modern drama inspired by the classical tragedies
Andric’s sermon “About story and telling” was covered in a truly unique way. At the beginning of the Serbian lesson, students discussed the circumstances i.e. the reasons that prompted Andric to write the sermon, which was of course the Nobel Prize. Students also learned about Nobel, his life and what the eponymous award stands for.
Serbian teacher Mirjana Vasić Adžić told the students to read the text at home so that they could discuss and analyse it better in class. With the help of a presentation, and its series of questions students were guided to the correct answers by drawing from what they already knew (like the story of Scheherazade, why it's powerful etc.) and through associations.
At the end of the lesson, students discussed the Author’s life and work, without focusing on dry information like the list of his works, specific dates etc. The discussion revolved more around what his peers thought of him, what conclusions were drawn based on his writings, and students also asked their Serbian teacher about the details about the Nobel Prize winner’s life that were of interest to them. They were the most curious about his childhood.
In order to bring everything they had learned about come to life, students watched and listened to a number of recordings in which Andric addressed the public after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. Their favourite part of it was actually getting to see the ceremony and hear Andric speak.
Students also covered Antigone and had to incorporate everything they knew about classical dramas into their own classical drama which is based on a modern myth. The task was by no means an easy one, but our students were able to rise to the occasion. Putting what they know into practice was also the best way for them to truly solidify their knowledge and spark their creativity.
Mastering the past tense through the biography of Coco Chanel
During their French lessons, our students mastered the practical use of certain language features and developed their critical thinking by discussing different areas of culture, art, politics, sports, history, etc.
For example, students covered the past tense with the help of biographical texts about prominent French and Francophone individuals like Coco Chanel and Jacques Prevert. After that, French language teacher Sofija Kotur asked students to use the text model they had covered for their own work.
With that students achieved a number of goals: they learned how to use the past tense by avoiding the usual boring grammar route, they learned a lot about French culture and were encouraged to conduct their own research.
To see how well students can manage group activities, Sofija divided the class into two large groups. Each group had to prepare a presentation about the student exchange programme.
Students mastered the use of adjectives related to different nationalities, countries, the European Union and the emotions felt while studying foreign languages in a presentation about the Erasmus student exchange programme.
Sink a ship and let the knowledge sink in - perfekt gelernt!
As the subject for the day had been the perfect tense which can sometimes be tricky in terms of its practical use, in their German lesson our students revised the main features of the tense through an interesting round of questions and answers.
In addition, the verbs that were used were marked with different colours based on whether they were regular or irregular.
The purpose of these exercises was to make students remember the subject matter in an easier way by activating both sides of the brain i.e. the creative and the logical side.
Students were able to put their acquired knowledge to the test in a fun group activity called Schiffe versenken also known as Warships, whereby the focus of the class was placed entirely on the students rather than the teacher.
In order to incorporate knowledge about Germanic culture and German-speaking countries, students listened to the works of famous composers which included the Turkish March. the Moonlight Sonata etc.
Young entrepreneurs in action
During one of their first Business Studies lessons, Savremena’s students learned how to design a business plan and how to manage project finances. They were given 5 plastic chips, each of which represented 500$ in start-up capital, upon which they had to design a business plan and start their own business.
Business Studies teacher Tatjana Vilček set the following game rules: students can participate on their own, in a pair or in a group. Most of the students decided to pair up with one of their peers to increase their capital and thus have more resources available for starting a demanding business venture which they presented in their business plan.
On the other hand, some students wished to work alone. They were able to take out a loan from the bank i.e. their teacher which they would pay off each month with interest. The loan repayment costs also had to be factored into the business plan.
A different fun activity was used to cover the vertical and horizontal integration of companies. The head, shoulders, knees and toes game was the most effective way of teaching students about vertical integration, after which students had to think up of a company for each of the named body parts. Horizontal integration was demonstrated in an activity where students formed a chain by holding hands and tugged at it to show how strong the chain of cooperation needs to be.
During a different Business Studies lesson, students visited the Constantine the Great hotel and talked to its management team on how a hotel is run. They were able to ask the managers everything they wished to know about modern business management and learn from some of the most successful people in the hospitality industry.
It is through such creative activities that the students were able to experience first hand the importance and the practicality of the tasks they were assigned, of designing a business plan and of teamwork. In the process they learned a thing or two about themselves as well like whether some of them are aspiring business leaders who will one day lead their own successful business.
Playing games and connecting knowledge from different areas
In their global perspectives lessons, our students realised how important communication is by practicing mime. Acronyms like brb, omg, lol etc. that are often used on the Internet were written on small pieces of paper that were then folded and mixed in a box. Volunteers mimed the acronyms to their peers and the student who would guess the word would select and mime the next word. This went on until the final acronym was named. After the game, the slightly more serious part of the lesson began and students explained how and when the acronyms are used in day to day communication as well as the pros and cons of using them.
Another practical, useful and above all fun activity was the simulation of a job interview. Global Perspectives teacher Tatjana Vilček acted as a job applicant while her students acted as the employers. Based on the answers she gave to the interview questions and her body language students discussed the kind of impression she left as an applicant. After that, students discussed the importance of body language and nonverbal communication.
Student reactions to such creative lessons were amazing. These exercises have shown that students acquire knowledge in a more efficient way when they engage in the subject matter through fun and interesting forms of interaction. Such activities also help develop the student’s interest for the subject. Practical examples are easily remembered and can therefore be recalled any time and incorporated into new units and new definitions.