Hofsstaðaskóli is an elementary school for students from 6-12 years of age (1st.-7th grade). It has 555 students and a teaching staff of 45. Other employees are about 45. Our school is one of five elementary schools in a town called Garðabær which is located about 14 kilometers from the center of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
The principal is Mrs. Margrét Harðardóttir and the vice- principal is Mrs. Hafdís Bára Kristmundsdóttir. There are also 3 assistant administrators/department heads. Mrs. Margrét Erla Björnsdóttir for 5th-7th grade and Ms. Arnheiður Ösp Hjálmarsdóttir for 1st-4th grade and Margrét Einarsdóttir for special education.
The school has a “guiding light” or basic value system that sets the theme for the school. It consists of five V- words.
Vinnusemi - industriousness
Verkmennt -skills in arts and crafts
The school day
The school opens at 8 o’clock and students can come inside and start their day with some “calm time” in their classroom. The formal school day starts at 8:30 and the length of each day can vary. Usually students finish their school day between 1-3 in the afternoon. Students take a break twice during the day to eat. A small snack in the morning in their classroom and a lunch break in the hall around noon. There students sit with their class and can buy a warm lunch.
In the younger grades in Icelandic schools students are divided to classes. Each class has a class teacher which teaches most academic subjects. Most classes in Hofsstaðaskóli have 18-24 students. The class then goes to another classroom and different teachers for the “hands-on” subjects such as Art, Carpentry, P.E. and Home Ed.
Students study a variety of subjects:
• Icelandic (reading, writing, grammar, spelling, poetry, literature etc.)
• Social studies
• Nature sciences (biology, science and chemistry)
• Life skills
• Danish (from 7th grade)
• Computer studies
• Home Ed.
• Crafts (sewing)
• Crafts (carpentry)
In Hofsstaðaskóla math and English are taught in “rainbow groups”(blue, red, yellow, green). In these classes we divide each grade of students according to their skill level in the subject. Each group varies in it’s emphasis on the curriculum and the speed with which subject areas are taught. The strongest group, blue, goes faster in the subject matter and gets more “extra” materials while the slower groups get more time to acquire basic skills. The number of students in each group can vary a great deal. The largest blue groups can have up to 30 students and the yellow and green groups often only have 6-10 students.
The school has 3 special education teachers for students with learning problems, four social educators and a guidance counsellor on staff. It also has a psychiatrist and speech therapist which come one day a week. There are also 5 staff members who assist students in class, either as full support for individual students with severe disabilities or as support for difficult classes for shorter periods of time.
ICT - How is it being implemented
While acess and level of use may differ from one school to another, depending on support and school policy, Icelandic schools are very wee equipped with ICT. This is particularly tru for compulsary and upper secondary schools. Furthermore, high-speed internet access is ubiquitous throughout the school system.
In 2000 a policy was set for the Garðabær Schools in the field of Information and Computer Technology. Guidelines and goals were set to determine how these policies were to come into practice. Funding for this policy was obtained from the town committee.
These guidelines were set for a three year period, 2000-2003. The main priorities for this period were:
The teachers; focus on educating and “retraining” the teachers to make them capable of leading the development. The teachers were regarded as the key factor in whether these changes would succeed.
- Each teacher got his own laptop computer with all software and educational programs needed for their job. All laptops could access the Internet and the Intranet for each school. Teachers were free to take the computers home and work with them there. Each computer had a modem and teachers could dial up their own Internet service.
- Funding was granted for each school to acquire the necessary classes in ICT for all the teachers. An assessment was implemented at various stages to determine in what ICT areas the teachers needed skill work. Many classes were held in each school.
ICT Staff; A computer department, whose job focuses mainly on keeping the equipment, hardware and software in suitable working condition. An ICT Coordinator, whose job focuses on helping the teachers determine how they can obtain the goals in ICT for each student and formulate practices accordingly. They play a major role as well in keeping student’s families informed and in contact with the school. They help oversee “Mentor” which is a special program for schools which manages all information regarding students (such as attendance, behaviour, grades, study plans, communication with parents etc.). They are also the individuals in each school who update and maintain the school web.
The ICT Coordinator in Hofsstaðaskóli is Ms. Elísabet Benónýsdóttir. The school website can be viewed at www.hofsstadaskoli.is
Computer Access for Students; in Hofsstaðaskóli
- Two Computer rooms, with 26 multimedia computers. Each computer has access to the Internet and has all software and educational programs installed for students use.
- There are 2 computers in two special education rooms
- In addition, there are 2 carts with 15 fully equipped laptop computers that teachers can take into there classrooms so students can work on projects. These computers have a wireless connection to the Internet and Intranet of the school
- We also have about 100 ipads. 9 are used in special education, 7 for music and multimedia (video production) classes and 12-13 for students in each year group
The school curriculum in ICT and teaching plans.
The ICT coordinators have made a school curriculum in ICT. This curriculum is based on the national standards for ICT. It has specific goals for each age group and defined ways to obtain these goals.
All students in our school take classes in ICT
- Each class gets one period (40 -60 min) per week in the computer room with their classroom teacher. In these classes the focus is on doing projects relating to subjects and areas of learning that students are focusing on in their general studies. Commonly, they use educational programs and webs, and occasionally word processing programs etc.
- All students, take in addition specific computer science classes where the focus is on learning how to use computers and various software to assist them in their work. (such as; Audacity for sound production, making websites, programming, making comics, storytelling software). These classes are taught once a week in 5-8 week periods. In each class there are 10-12 students.
All students, 6-12 years old, take one typewriting in their computer classes.
- In addition to the above teachers are encouraged to reserve the computer cart for their classes. They can also reserve the computer rooms when they are not occupied and use the Ipads for working with information technology in their classroom.