Kognity • 10/07/2022  •  9 min read

St Gilgen International School, Salzburg

Meet John Patton, IBDP Coordinator, Universities and Careers Guidance Counsellor and teacher of Biology.  John is always striving to get students truly excited about their subject and implement an excellent pedagogy so that students are more idependent and in control of their learning. Learn how John uses Kognity to flip the classroom, improve lesson planning and inspire and motivate his students.

Five challenges to address

St Gilgen International School (StGIS) is a boarding and day school in Salzburg, Austria. It provides a modern and progressive education to students aged 8 to 18, with over 40 nationalities represented. All students complete the IB Diploma Programme, and the school is accredited by the IBO.

As John always is striving to improve teaching at St Gilgen he was looking for support to improve on these five main challenges:

  • Getting students excited about their subject
  • Implementing excellent pedagogy
  • Putting students in control of their learning
  • Finding materials for engaging lessons and homework
  • Providing valuable feedback for students, teachers and parents

Inspiring a love of learning

Kognity helps John to cover the IB Biology course much more efficiently. As a result, he gets to spend more time sharing his passion for his subject and nurturing the enthusiasm of his students. This benefit tends to win over any colleagues who are still unsure about using technology in their teaching.

He continues, “We all get into teaching because we’re passionate about young people growing and we want our students to love our subjects. One of the things that can hinder that transmission of passion is the breadth of content that you need to cover.

“With Kognity, you can spend more time on the really cool aspects of your subject that you want your kids to love.”

What Kognity does is really great as it allows you to be far more efficient. If you set up assignments ahead of time, it gives the teacher far more knowledge about what your students already know. That way, I don’t have to go back and start from the beginning. Now I can get into the really cool stuff instead. I can talk about why it’s so important to know this particular concept, I can make better connections to what’s going on worldwide and in other areas that they might be learning about, and therefore really establish a lot more passion with the students.

Supporting excellent teaching and learning

John has high standards when it comes to pedagogy – he’s currently researching how pedagogical techniques develop student purpose. As a pedagogical leader at StGIS, he is happy to rely on Kognity because it is supported by proven teaching and learning principles (learn more about the Kognity learning principles here).

“As teachers, we rely on good pedagogical practice. When we think about how our students are actually going to be learning, we first have to distribute it. Kognity allows you to differentiate really, really well and very efficiently. Without a whole lot of teacher effort upfront, you can very easily set questions and reading assignments that allow specific students to learn what’s best for them at that point in time.

“Kognity allows you to differentiate really, really well and very efficiently.”

You can identify which students need more acceleration and those that might need more of the basics. On top of that, we can also think of the forgetting curve, or the growth of myelin within the brain. With Kognity, you’re reigniting some of those biological things that are going on in the brain that allow the students to engage with their learning.”

Empowering students

Kognity empowers students to take control of their learning, providing a framework for their independent study. This gives teachers more freedom to explore concepts on a deeper level in the classroom, as John explains: “Often when you tell a student to study, they just open their textbook and start reading. But with Kognity you can really structure that study session.

“Think of your study session like a training session. Warm-up by doing three strength tests, do the main study session, and then cool down by doing two or three more strength battles at the end.”

So the students are in control of their learning, but you as the teacher are essentially guiding that process. Then when they get to the classroom you can start challenging what they think they know, bringing up questions that they might not experience in a typical textbook and getting them to dive into why they should know this content.”

John’s best tips for new and long-term Kognity users

Kognity puts a wide range of curriculum-aligned, interactive materials at John’s fingertips. This helps him to deliver more engaging lessons and assignments for his students. He’s convinced that all teachers could benefit from this feature, even if they’re not the most experienced or tech-savvy.

If you’re a new teacher, probably the best thing is to start by putting out a reading assignment as well as a checkpoint quiz. That way you can see how your students are performing and make better instructional choices. If you’re a more experienced teacher, or if you’ve been using Kognity for a while, I would highly recommend dipping into the resource library. You’ve got an excellent opportunity to filter between images, videos, all the interactives, and you can put that into your presentations really simply.

“On top of that, the strength tests, practice sessions, strength battles and past question assignments are all excellent ways to allow your students to progress a lot faster. One thing you can do is start your lessons with a strength battle. It’s a great way to get your students engaged in the lesson. It kind of heightens that bit of competition amongst the students, and it gets them excited about what they’re going to learn.”

“High-quality feedback really sets Kognity apart”

Kognity provides instant, high-quality feedback on assignments and exam-style questions. In John’s opinion, this really sets Kognity apart from other resources:

“As teachers, why do we quiz? The whole point is for you as a teacher to be able to target what they don’t know. Kognity directly taps into this and allows students to very quickly understand what they have to improve upon.

Yes, with a typical textbook you could flip to the back and see the answers. But what’s great about Kognity is it immediately explains why whatever they selected might have been the wrong answer and clarifies how it could be done better. That’s something that is head and shoulders above what most products are doing. It allows me to tailor my teaching.

On top of that, when I’m communicating with parents I can say, “they completed this work or they didn’t complete this work, and here’s how well they understand it…” It’s a really quick and easy way to provide feedback for all stakeholders.”