Boosting a Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship in Your Students Marisa Badini's learning Diary

I teach English to childen from 6 to 11 and I'm always updating, to reach pupils interests and needs and face the challenges of XXI Century. I'm the Headmaster Deputy and I collaborate for innovation and the internalization process of our school . I love my job and I'm an enthusiastic eTwinner , where I fInd great opportunities of professional development, pupils motivation and engagement. Thanks to Erasmus KA1 I attended a training course on CLIL in London and made two jobs shadowing in Spain and Bulgaria. We received the partner teachers in our school this year and it was an awesome experience for me, my pupils and the whole school team. I implemented my professional development through eTwinning Learning Events on CLIL , Gamification, New Technologies; a MOOC on Moodle 4 teachers, Project Based learning course on Teacher Achademy, "Collaborative teaching and Learning" by European workshops and seminars. Moreover I had the wonderful chance to take part in the eTwinning "Mediterranean seminar for Primary teachers in Athens" in 2015 and in the Thematic International Conference on Citizenship in Florence, in september 2016. I'm really happy to attend this course, sharing reflections, steps , ideas with the wonderful teachers enrolled and the great expert team.

About my school

My public school organization is VIII Circolo and is made up by two Primary schools :Don Minzoni and Carella and 5 Pre-Primary schools. I teach at Don Minzoni Primary school. My school is located in Piacenza, in the North West of Italy, not far from Milan..

Piacenza is a quite small town, with a rich historical background, since it was founded by Romans, on the right side of river Po. In our classes we have some children with different cultures and languages, coming from East Europe, South America or China. Moreover there are pupils with special needs or disabilities who need support and interaction with schoolmates.

Therefore the priority is for educational projects to encourage the use of a plurality of languages and tools. In fact we use different methods and promote real experiences in order to offer our children an active and integrated learning, taking into account emotional, social, physical ,and cultural aspects ,in a word "real life". There are teachers formed in Feuerstein method , Cooperative learning, Life skills, CLIL, Coding and Robotics,and update their competence with training courses.

From 2011 we are involved in International projects, from Comenius multilateral partnership (2011/2013) to Comenius Assistantship "with a German Assistant (2013/2014) and Erasmus KA1 (2014/2016). The last one strengthened the continuity of the two schools orders, introducing English teaching in Pre-Primary and implementing CLIL in Primary schools. Moreover it contributed to the development of digital competences and international collaboration of our teacher community.

We are involved in eTwinning projects, strenghtening key competences, communication and CLIL paths. We were awarded the National Quality Label and the European Quality label for one of them!

Boosting a Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship in Your Students

This MOOC's aim is to train and empower teachers in fostering the sense of initiative and the entrepreneurial mind-set of their students by developing innovative and creative attitudes and skills.

The sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action through creativity, innovation, and risk-taking as well as the ability to plan and manage projects. It is a key competence that can be developed through any school subject, from primary to secondary and beyond. It does not necessarily involve a specific school subject. Rather, it requires a way of teaching in which experiential learning and project work have the main role.

This MOOC has been designed with the intention to provide concrete examples for the practical implementation of the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (EntreComp). Each module consists of several videos, illustrating lesson plans, teaching activities, or possible resources that could enable teachers, and educators to strengthen entrepreneurial skills in their students.

This course will help you to:

Understand the importance of fostering a sense of initiative and entrepreneurial mind-set in students and pupils;

Explore the different aspects that entrepreneurial learning covers, and the different areas of applicability (from personal development to active participation in society, to entering or re-entering the job market to starting new professional or personal ventures);

Engage in experiential learning and project work;

Learn how to prepare students to enter the job market, and how to provide them with the social and entrepreneurial skills needed;

Become familiar with challenge-based learning, by engaging students and pupils to learn while facing real-life problems and situations;

Learn how to bridge the world of education and the one of work.

Module 1

In this module you will:

Learn more about the concept of entrepreneurial learning and its relevance for students (skills) and for society (innovation)

Discuss the relevance of developing a sense of initiative and an entrepreneurial mind-set in your students.

Evaluate the applicability of entrepreneurial learning in your classes/subject.

Find ways to stimulate idea creation and opportunities spotting by:

Helping students and pupils to identify needs and challenges to be met and solved.

Stimulating learners’ creativity and value creation.

.1 Entrepreneurial mind-set and sense of initiative.

1.2 Entrepreneurial education in your school/classroom

Being a Primary teacher I really appreciate that...."During this MOOC, we will discuss how to apply a cross-curricular approach to fostering entrepreneurial skills. Currently, entrepreneurship education happens mostly in upper secondary level. Of course, there are more subjects that can incorporate entrepreneurship education at lower secondary level than at primary level. However, this course will demonstrate a wide variety of classroom activities, which could be tailored for any subject and any age group".

1.3. Spotting opportunities

Sometimes we do not spot opportunities because we are not used to see things from a different perspective. Andy Penaluna Director of the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, has an interesting classroom activity to propose.

Listen to Andy talking about what is it like to be a cat? : Ask students to imagine they were a cat and try to reflect on what is it like to be a cat. What do cats see? What grabs their attention in a room? This is useful for making students taka a different perspective to things and situations; and for perceiving familiar environments from a different point of view

1.4. Stimulating learners’ creativity and value creation

Creativity can be fostered or nurtured. At the same time, it can be stifled or scorned. We would like you to reflect on creativity in the classroom. In discussing this, we would like to apply the Reverse thinking method (which is actually a method for creative idea generation).

How could I discourage the creativity of my students?

My contribute to Tricider

Giving pupils one model and ask them to follow it. Evaluate their outcomes taking into account the model as a parameter . Not giving them the possibility to express their own point of view.

Module 2: Enabling students to take the future in their hands

In this module we will help you to:

Find examples on how to foster visualisation of ideas, through scenario building techniques.

Evaluate the importance of the ability to carry out an idea by combining imagination/creativity and practical knowledge in visualising ideas.

Learn new techniques for boosting students’ skills in evaluating opportunities and disadvantages in an idea (individually and as part of a team).

Find ways to support students in assigning value to their ideas. Come up with classroom activities to highlight the importance of ideas with a social value, and sustainability considerations.

Discuss ways to foster students’ understanding of the meaning of ethical behaviour.

Innovation starts with a vision!

2.2 Seeing the value of ideas

In order to evaluate an idea we need to see it through various perspectives and consider all aspects of it. How would it affect me? How would it affect the people around me?

One activity which is very useful for bringing awareness to all aspects of an idea, and the various opportunities it may bring, is mind mapping (also called mental map). Mind mapping is a way of capturing your thoughts by presenting them in a visual form, identifying strategies and patterns, steps in achieving a certain aim. Mind mapping allows you to consider several aspects of an idea, a project, a topic. Mind mapping could be facilitated by many different digital tools but sometimes just using a pen and putting all ideas on paper would work just fine.

Mind mapping helps students to put ideas in context and evaluate their relevance to the world that surrounds them. Mind maps can be presented in different ways: spider's web, fish skeleton, network scheme, etc

2.3 Ethical and sustainable thinking

Entrepreneurial minds are not just dreamers distanced from the world that surrounds them. They are able (or should be) to assess the consequences that their ideas and actions have on other people, on society, on the environment. Enterprising teachers and students should therefore work on analysing their ideas in ethical and sustainable terms, adapt ideas according to the situation or social needs, or take ethical and sustainable principles as a trigger for new ideas.

Sustainable thinking

What entrepreneurs should always have in mind is that what they do today will have an impact on theirs and everyone’s tomorrow. This entails thinking what consequences an action might have on the community, environment, economy and society as a whole

Fair trade is a good example of a topic, which you can tackle in the classroom. By learning more about fair trade, students in both primary and secondary education can learn more about the relationships between farmers, businesses and consumers and how we can produce food in a sustainable way.

2.4 Ideas and opportunities

Module 3: Making good use of resources

in this module we:

Discussed the importance of perseverance and ways to boost students’ confidence and motivation in delivering tasks.

Discussed skills required to manage material and non-material resources. Learned more about ways to develop students’ ability to manage available resources.

Stressed on the importance of self-assessment of one’s ability and ideas.

Discussed classroom activities to develop students’ financial literacy.

Evaluated the importance of working with others and discussed ways of developing communication and leadership skills.

3.1 Self-awareness and self-efficacy

Assessment for Learning (AfL) method. This method can be described as a process that uses assessment in a way that allows teachers to understand how and if learners are learning, and thus adjust their teaching strategies to the learning achievements of students, and allows students to understand how much they have learned, thus empowering them to adjust their learning strategies. In this process, assessment is not used to evaluate learners’ performance per se. Rather, the aim of this assessment is the one to provide feedback to both teachers and learners so that both parties can reflect on their teaching/learning and improve it.

3.2 Motivation and perseverance

Sometimes we think that successful people were born that way. The reality is that they love what they do and like any great love, that means a lot of passion and persistence to keep creating value despite setbacks.

There are set-backs and failures and also successes and triumphs in our life.

Do you know people who are good at dealing with ups and downs, who have a positive attitude also in a difficult situation? These people have one thing in common – resilience.

Resilience is not one specific thing, but a combination of skills and attributes that help to solve problems, cope with challenges, adapt and bounce back when things don´t go as planned. Resilient people learn from their mistakes, they look at their failures and mistakes and as opportunities for growth


3.3 Mobilizing resources

Having brilliant ideas and not being able to realise them because of limited resources could be potentially discouraging for students and young people. That is why it is important to foster resourcefulness in our students. Entrepreneurial minds make the best out of a situation, because they have the ability to obtain and organise resources that are necessary to carry out their aim. Entrepreneurial minds have an idea of what is needed and what is available and they make the most out of it. Furthermore, if they are faced with limited resources they know how to cope with this situation. One way of dealing with that is the use resources in an unconventional way or just adapt the idea to the resources available. This is also where creativity would help.


The Creative Glasses challenge been developed by Paz Fernández de Vera (@pazfdevera), teacher of training and career counselling in VET education, from Spain.

Challenge your students to create Creative Glasses. The glasses would be used to foster students’ conscious attitude of searching, and training themselves to see beyond the obvious, to be able to observe from different perspectives, to detect problems and to seek solutions, to see something as daily as TV with a new perspective.

HOW does it work? Students are given a sheet of rubber-like material, from which they need to create “creative” glasses in groups of four. These “creative” glasses will enable them to see things from a different perspective. However, in this case, the process is more relevant than the output. Students are given 20 minutes to create their glasses. They are free to leave the classroom and use the resources at hand. PROBLEM: There are no scissors given nor at sight, but if they find any, of course they can use them.

This activity helps students by highlighting the importance of coping with limited resources and good time management. Sometimes we complicate ourselves by going to the farthest and the solution to the problem is closer that we realise. In her activity with students, Paz had a bag full of scissors but she did not mention that. That is why students started looking for other ways of making the glasses not considering the fact that they could ask for scissors.

If you want to go one step further you can ask your students to explain the process of creating the glasses by making a poster, mind map, etc.

Mobilizing resources is a competence that is relevant for every person, no matter their age or context. Even for teachers! Many teachers work in school environments with limited resources. A teacher would still try to use the most of resources in order to give the best opportunities for their students

3.4 Financial and Economic literacy

3.5 Mobilizing others

YOUTH START The project presents a challenge-based learning approach by developing challenges focusing on certain competences. You can explore activities such as the Open door challenge or the Elevator pitch.


3.6 Resources overview

Within module 3 we explored 5 competences that relate to Entrepreneurship which represent the second area of the EntreComp framework, which is dedicated to “Resources”.

These competences are about self- awareness and efficacy, about motivation and perseverance, about being familiar with financial and economic concepts and about having the ability to mobilize resources and people.

Module 4: Achieving goals by putting plans into action

This last part will guided us through competences that enable entrepreneurial minds to achieve their goals by putting plans into action. Action requires taking the initiative and planning activities by defining goals and priorities. Every entrepreneurial mind has the ability to cope with risk and uncertainty by showing flexibility and good decision-making. Entrepreneurial action is often facilitated by teamwork, in which each team member is given the opportunity to contribute equally. Thus, entrepreneurial minds are able to team up and collaborate easily with others. Last but not least, entrepreneurs are individuals who do not fear failure and challenge. It is learning through experience and others that helps them improve and strive for even more ambitious goals.

Module learning objectives:

Discuss ways to foster students’ ability to work independently and to take initiative, while also understanding the importance of collaboration with others.

Develop activities for fostering students’ organisational skills – define priorities, manage tasks.

Find ideas to boost students’ decision –making skills and abilities to deal with uncertainties.

Assess the importance of learning through experience – foster an understanding in your students that failure can help our leaning process.

Explore activities for exciting your students about finding role models and mentors.

DESIGN THINKING Is a method of problem solving developed largely by Stanford University professors who sought to codify a product design process that emphasized creative solutions to meet users’ needs. The idea has spread across the country and across disciplines. It is used also at schools that provide students active learning.

Design Thinking is the confidence that new, better things are possible and that you can make them happen. How it works? There are some ways how to implement Design Thinking, here is one:

4.2 Planning and management

Planning entails defining goals, developing a roadmap of how these should be achieved, while also assigning priorities and considering financial aspects. In other words, planning means putting your vision in practical context and translating your ideas in concrete steps. Planning could refer to one particular project, a long-term process or one’s life in general.

4.3 Coping with uncertainty, ambiguity and risk

A useful technique for facing failure, which could be easily adapted to a classroom activity is the CV of failures. This technique can help students and adults to understand that failure is part of our lives by making them reflect on what they tried but have not succeeded in their learning or career path.

Challenge your students to think and write down everything they have tried but have not managed to succeeded during a project/school year, etc. Facilitate a discussion between them and help them reflect on lessons learnt.

4.4 Working with others

The ability to work with others is crucial for entrepreneurs. An entrepreneurial mind is able to not only collaborate with others, but also ignite further group work. A common misperception is that entrepreneurial minds are self-cantered. Quite the contrary, entrepreneurial people manage to leave their ego aside and recognise the importance of group collaboration and the potential that each member of the group has for contributing to the group results. Entrepreneurial minds recognise their own strengths and limitations and they can evaluate how they can contribute to team work. Entrepreneurial minds see the potential other teammates have and appreciate diversity of skills and knowledge.

4.6 Learning through experience

Reflective practice inquiry pushes us to think about our actions and learn from what we do: from mistakes, from practice, from experience and from what went well.

In 1983, Donald Schön wrote a seminal book, The Reflective Practitioner. In this book he described what successful practitioners do. Taking teachers, doctors and nurses, architects as examples, Schön explains how these professionals improve in the work they perform by reflecting on their actions. Someone who reflects on his or her practice is first of all looking back on his or her actions. Moreover, this person is considering all the aspects that surrounded that situations (example: emotions, circumstances, responses, reactions) and uses that information and analysis to improve his or her knowledge. As a consequence, this person is learning through the experience and through a re-elaboration of his or her actions.

4.7: Into action overview

My three words : Resilience, Collaboration, Challenge

My activity on the Learning Designer

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