Online support for the final exam

19 May 2020

Pandemic caused by coronavirus has forced the whole world to adapt to the situation as quickly as possible, and to implement activities by applying the concept of physical distancing, which in many situations means using the Internet, i.e. being online.

In just a few days from the moment when direct work of schools in Serbia stopped, teachers had organized themselves to conduct distance learning and to prepare materials for students who do not have the possibilities to access distance learning. However, these are not the only activities.

As the end of the school year approaches, the eighth-graders are preparing for the final exam, which is a very important segment in the work of teachers and students. The final exam is one of the important segments and the project "Together in transition - Support to Children from Vulnerable Groups in Transition to Secondary Education", which has been conducted since 2017 by the Pestalozzi Children's Foundation and the Centre for Education Policy, and in 2020 entered into a new three-year phase. As the goal of this project is to have as many as possible children successfully complete primary education and continue to secondary education, well-done preparation and passing the final exam are very important elements for achieving the project goal.

The answer to the question how to provide adequate preparation for the final exam in a situation when there is no regular educational process in schools, was given by the primary school "Zdravko Gložanski" from Becej, which participates in the project.

Eight grade students now attend classes via television, and often receive various materials that contain lessons from 5th to 8th grade by subject teachers. Homework and worksheets are formulated in such way to contain various types of assignments from basic to advanced level. Students also have their own sets of 20 tests with solutions and the opportunity to practice and ask the teacher if something is not clear enough to them.

Students' work and progress are regularly monitored, and students can always ask for additional explanations. The provision of peer support also continued online, e.g. through video communication 7th grade students helped 8th grade students who are less advanced in geometry, which means that the earlier "pairing" of students works also in the virtual space.

Very creative solutions have also been realized, e.g. in mathematics, the "Mathematical Triathlon" was created 7 years ago, which combines and links many teaching subjects: physics, chemistry, geography, history, music and art, technical education, etc. and it is again now organized within 3 classes. The aim of these classes is for students to affirm basic mathematical knowledge needed to understand different phenomena in life and society, to apply the acquired mathematical knowledge in solving various tasks in everyday life, to successfully continue mathematics education and self-education, and to contribute to development mental abilities, the formation of a scientific view of the world and the versatile development of students' personalities. Classes are very carefully planned and include watching and analyzing materials such as Donald in the world of mathematics, films about famous mathematicians (the story of Pythagoras, Archimedes, Euclid, Descartes and Venus), playing hide and seek with the characters of famous mathematicians, playing "mathematical omniscient" with questions arranged in groups based on the areas and standards provided for this teaching subject, as well as mathematical associations.

Teachers and professional associates of this bilingual school which provides teaching in Serbian and Hungarian language, have prepared a set of questions in the form of quizzes (Kahoot, Socrative, videotanar, etc.), so that students can, in a fun way, test their knowledge of all teaching subjects that are part the final exam and so that teachers to gain insight into the areas that need to be emphasized during the preparation for each individual student.

After the rehearsal of the final exam, the results were analyzed, and a survey for students was conducted via Google questionnaire related to their experience, difficulties, recommendations, and feelings. Subject teachers surveyed students about the concrete exam tasks, and defined additional goals and outcomes from those areas and topics in which students achieved poorer results or which students listed in the survey as less clear and problematic.

These creative moves of the school are the result of teamwork and dedication of employees and it presents the outgrowth of many years of providing efforts to keep students in schools, to successfully continue their education, as well as to improve the quality of teaching. Certainly, one of the positive things that will remain when students return to school will be the inventiveness and creativity of the teachers.