ASSESSING THE IMPACT

In the first year of Endeavour all the schools involved worked closely and held several discussions to assess the impact of the project, as well as surveying the views of parents and children.  Some of the key issues we had included finding space in the curriculum, resources and ensuring all children could achieve at the correct level.

Space in the curriculum is limited and we were allocating an afternoon a week for at least two terms in the year, so we had to justify this use of time.  The depth of learning achieved and the skills of planning, time management, researching and presentation developed meant we were confident children were achieving skills that would be invaluable in their future learning and careers.  The results the children produced at the end confirmed this, but the projects required careful management and direction at the outset if they were to work.

100_8226Resources were another key issue.  Some projects required the purchase of equipment and it should not be expected that parents will provide all the resources.  In the first year the authority provided some funding, but since then we have managed any extra costs through the school budget.  These have included the purchase of a sewing machine, soldering equipment and electronics, and model airplane kits.  Human resources are also key; as the teacher the project can be difficult to manage if the expectation of the child being responsible for their own learning is not clear at the start.  This can be challenging for some and they may require more structure and support to succeed. The use of classroom assistants and local community members can be invaluable here; this year I have a classroom assistant supervising baking, a former headteacher supporting learners and a member of the community teaching sewing skills.  However in my first year I managed with no extra adult support.

Ensuring all children achieve and that they are focused on their work can be tricky.  Most are motivated to work hard because they chose the topic, but ensuring planning at the start is detailed really helps keep them on track.  Endeavour works well for all children as what they do and how they show their learning is chosen by the child; children who are reluctant writers can achieve a lot through practical work or film or presentations.  A child with autism and communication difficulties was able to complete successfully two years of Endeavour on cooking and trips around the island.

We gave out questionnaires in the first year to parents and children and the response was very positive.  Everyone felt they enjoyed the project and that it was worthwhile.  Some parents felt children needed more help and some children would have liked more time in class to complete their project.  More regular peer and self assessments were introduced to ensure children were on track and challenging themselves to the same level as their peers.

IMG_1601Since the implementation of Endeavour children are always excited to know when their project will start, and we have now rolled it out throughout the school at early and first level in the form of mini endeavours, where children apply similar skills at an appropriate level and with more support over just a term.  Children have a better set of key skills for life, learning and work and are able to apply them across the curriculum; children are more independent in their learning and able to make decisions about how and what to learn.  They are also more prepared for High School and future careers.  You can access the questionnaire we used below.

Endeavour questionnaire(1)

 

 

INVOLVING THE EXPERTS

One of the key features that helps build a successful Endeavour is having the children get advice from experts.  At the start of the project I have the children write a persuasive letter to an expert in the field, usually someone who uses key skills relevant to the Endeavour in their job. In the letter they ask key questions that will help them in their project.  I am always surprised by how often they receive helpful replies and how motivated they become as a result.   Contacting people locally and further afield to ask for advice and help with the project shows the children that their projects are real and valid, and it is also very exciting when a letter arrives in the post!  Letter writing and communicating successfully with others is also a useful skill for work.

In the first year of the project a local architect sent a series of letters to Scott explaining how the house design process works.  Sometimes help is more direct; Jason was contacted and video-conferenced with a nuclear engineer on electronics, while Helen and Elinor had the local wildlife photographer visit to tell them how to take great photos for their wildlife related projects.

quiltIn 2014 Beth’s project on puppet making was helped when she used Twitter to converse with Steve Hewlett, the ventriloquist from Britain’s got Talent, about her project.  Elizabeth received a letter from Manran encouraging her in her Gaelic singing project, while Cameron was in regular email contact with the Beechgrove Garden team about his croft.  Often we receive gifts as well; Asher was sent survival books and Torin was very excited to receive video games through the post for his game design project. Local help came in the form of weekly visits from the local quilters association to help Danni with her Islay quilt, while local bakers posted baking equipment to Annie for her cake business.

2015 and Beth visited the RSPB for her bird anatomy project, while Emily and Jodie visited local wool makers.  Eleanor worked with the local dietitian on delivering healthy eating advice to the school and Oliver received a letter from a physicist at St Andrews university advising him on his project on quantum mechanics.  This year Eva received advice from the director of the Royal Shakepeare company on her project on Shakespearean monologues, and Kaitlyn received freshwater pearls from a jewellery designer in the post for her jewellery making topic.

People are invariably kind and generous with their time and help and we have been very lucky to be supported in this way by so many.

PILOT YEAR 2013 PROJECT LIST

Here is a list of other projects tackled in 2013 to give an idea of the range of areas tackled.

SCOTT
HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE
My uncle is building a house and I decided to find out more about the process  involved in building a house.  I researched architectural design, writing to a local architect, as well as plumbing, joinery and electrical fittings, and elarned how to draw plans.  I designed my own house using Google Sketch up and even built a model.

100_7137ELINOR
WHALE AND DOLPHIN MAGAZINE
I researched potential threats to the habitats of whales and dolphins on the west coast of Scotland, with help from SNH, HWDT and by visiting the Islay Wildlife Centre.  I  created and edited a magazine and learned how to work to a deadline, and sent copies of my final magazine to the HWBT.

 

 

ALICIA
FOOTBALL COACHING
I found out how to become an excellent footballer, researching how top footballers learn how to play.  I found out how to improve my own skills, then planned a series of coaching sessions to improve the skills of others.  I had advice from a coach from the SFA and our active schools co-ordinator to help, and I set up a football skills club in school.

100_7190ROBBIE
VIDEO GAME DESIGN
I designed and created my own video game using programming skills and the software Kodu.  I  managed my time, planned my game using storyboards and learned how to deal with problems.  At the end I had a full game people got to play and I entered the Kodu cup.

 

ELLEN
RELAXATION TECHNIQUES
I was interested in finding out about different ways that can be used to help people relax when they are stressed.  I needed to research how the body works when stressed, and how effective different methods of relaxation are.  At the end of my project I created a CD of relaxing sounds recorded on Islay along with a presentation and leaflet.

100_7144JASON
ELECTRONICS
I was interested in finding out how different electronic gadgets are made and work, and wanted to make my own remote controlled vehicle using my own electronic circuits.  I researched and investigated the workings of electronic items, and learned how to solder my own simple circuits that do things like make noises and light lights.  I had a video conference with a nuclear engineer about my project and in the end built my own remote control tank.

JAMES
WHISKY DISTILLING AT LAPHROAIG DISTILLERY
I visited the distillery and interviewed the workers and the manager to find out about whiskey distilling at Laphroaig.  I needed to manage my time, plan and organise, find out about whisky distilling and I then created a leaflet from my research.

100_7151CALUM
HOW A ENGINE WORKS
I learned how an internal combustion engine works and created several diagrams to explain the process.  I built a working model combustion engine and visited the local garage to find out how a real engine works.

 

A SONG AND DANCE

Music was a popular theme in the first year of Endeavour.  Three girls worked on different projects that built on existing skills they had in learning musical instruments, but increased the level of challenge.  They were all keen on careers in the music industry.  These projects exemplify the different levels of success that can occur with Endeavour, and highlights some of the challenge children face.

100_7169A P7 girl who played the tin whistle and piano wanted to write and record her own song as a music video.  She successfully researched different types of music and styles and along with the other two performers contacted the High School music teacher who kindly came in on several weeks during his free periods to support them in their Endeavours.  However she struggled to compose the music she wanted because her level of understanding of music was not high enough.  She instead focused more on improving her skills at the piano and composing a simple tune, and was happy at the end with what she achieved.

A P6 girl who was learning to play the piano decided she would compose, play and record her own piece of Scottish piano music. She learned the different types of tune and learned to play examples of each before composing a simple tune of her own.  She was more successful as her Endeavour was less ambitious and in line with her skill set.

Another P7 girl who was learning the accordion and was an accomplished Highland Dancer wanted to compose a piece of Scottish music for her accordion which she would record and then invent her own dance to go with the music which she would then video.  She was able to learn a suitable tune, but composing and creating a new dance were more challenging.  In the end she used an existing tune which she then learned to play and created a dance with steps to fit the tune before recording it as a video, dancing and playing-although not simultaneously!  She was applying new skills of combining her talents and videoing them, and you can see the finished video below.

A Scottish Performance By Emily Logan from Jo Clark on Vimeo.

 

PADDLING HIS OWN KAYAK…

kayakAnother one of the projects from 2013 was carried out by a Primary 6 boy who was interested in wilderness survival and wanted to take up Kayaking, as there is a local club on Islay.  He planned to carry out a kayaking expedition to Jura, the neighbouring Island, with his dad.

kayak2There were a lot of challenging skills to be learned for this project which involved careful planning.  After he organised a meeting with a local coastguard he encountered his first problem; the currents between Islay and Jura are too strong to safely Kayak.  He then altered his plans to make the trip to one of the small uninhabited islands off the coast of Islay.  Attending Kayak club weekly with his father he built up his skills, and in school he used maps to prepare his route, learning about tides and prevailing winds.  Using examples from his father’s work he made his own risk assessments that included detailed plans of what to do in an emergency.  He finally took the trip to Texa island, camping overnight and successfully concluded his Endeavour.  Motivated by his interest in the project, this learner was successfully able to apply new skills in a meaningful context, and although the project was not directly related to a future career, the skills he developed would be useful in any career path he might choose.  He even recorded his endeavours in a blog: http://1kidskayakingadventer.blogspot.co.uk/

FILMING ON THE FARM

In the first year of Endeavour there was some trepidation as to whether the project could work.  To me the key to the success of Endeavour was children working independently and being challenged.   This meant support of planning and monitoring of progress but not having adults do the project for the children; support from home was purely in providing opportunities and resources.  I did not want children coming in to school with lovely posters or models that their parents had spent hours preparing for them.  I also needed children to take on tasks that challenged them suitably through developing new skills and knowledge- they had to come across problems and find solutions and if that wasn’t happening then the project was not challenging enough.

SHEEP

sheepIn the first year of Endeavour one of the outstanding projects was a documentary on sheep farming which was made my a primary 7 girl who lived on a farm.  In order to make the project challenging she had to do more than present what she already knew about farming in a powerpoint.   She decided to create a documentary on a year in the life of a sheep farmer, and her key new skills were learning how to make a documentary film.  After analyzing some David Attenborough documentaries she was able to plan how her film would look using a storyboard.

At each stage in the sheep farming cycle she would film the process on the farm and then bring the video into school to edit and add narration.  She recorded every stage of the process; from her lambing a sheep to selling her own sheep at the local auction mart, for which she was given the morning out of school.  She even organised a visit to the abattoir with the local Vet, and filmed the final stage of the process, with the vet showing her the anatomy of the sheep.  This part of the filming process was not included in the final cut for viewing audiences however!  She also identified key areas of knowledge she would need as a sheep farmer, such as diseases and official record keeping, and researched these often challenging areas very successfully.  The final film was a big hit at the Endeavour presentation to parents and was a true reflection of the hard work and independent learning involved.  Although supported by her parents in accessing resources, the work was all her own, and an excellent example of how Endeavour can work well.

You can see the video below:

SHEEPS YEAR from Jo Clark on Vimeo.

 

STRUCTURE AND SKILLS

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 22.52.22
Part of the Successful Learners skills ladder

During the pilot process we worked with other schools on Islay, Jura and Kilmodan in developing Endeavour, although each school took a slightly different approach in the way it was structured that suited their individual situations.  As a group we identified skills development as the key structure for the project; children would be choosing from a wide range of topics with vastly different areas of learning and specific skills but all of them could focus on assessing specific transferable skills-skills, for life, learning and work.  On Islay and Jura we had developed our own skills ladder based around the four capacities and related transferable skills that would be applicable in the world of work.  It was the skills for successful learners and confident individuals that the children would focus on developing through their Endeavour; most regularly plan do review, inviting feedback and sharing learning from Successful Learners.

Space needed to be created in the curriculum for Endeavour, and we decided an afternoon a week was necessary to allow children enough time to develop their projects in depth.  Because we were covering different skills in such depth it was felt that this was justifiable, and the personalisation of children’s learning was also a key aim we could fulfill.

To ensure children were focused and managing their time well (Confident Individuals), a plan do review (Successful Learners) structure was used to manage the projects.  Over time children filled out long term, medium and short term planners.  Once a term they would work in pairs to discuss and assess their Endeavour progress based on questions on an assessment peer review sheet; they would also be monitored by myself at the start through planning meetings and during the term to ensure progress was being made.   The ethos of Endeavour is very much independent learning, and your role is less that of teacher and more that of coach or mentor.  It was really important that children developed project management skills and used them without being over managed by myself, even if that meant at times they hit problems.  I would offer advice on how to manage any problems that arose, but I had to resist the urge to do it for them if I was to help them become more resilient and independent.  And I was regularly surprised by how much they could achieve on their own, and how well they dealt with challenges they faced.

Short term planning happened at the start of each lesson; children would review the previous session and then plan their activities for the afternoon.  Some found this planning quite hard to manage initially and needed support, but by the end of the year they could clearly see the benefits.   They would carry out their tasks and at the end write down what they had achieved and next steps.  Sharing learning was one of the key aims of Endeavour and at the end of each session two children would present their learning to the rest of the class, with a question and answer session afterwards.  These sessions are invaluable for children to think through their projects, and the questioning from other children was always surprisingly perceptive and testing.  Oh, and I would often use these sessions as a talking and listening assessment for my records!

Welcome to Endeavour- Developing Skills for Life, Learning and Work

ENDEAVOUR: Verb   try hard to do or achieve somethingNoun  an attempt to achieve a goal.

tess4_110113The online dictionary definition of the word Endeavour neatly sums up the ethos behind this learning project, begun in 2012.  As a teacher I want to challenge and motivate my students in their learning and help them deal with setbacks and problems whilst allowing them ownership of their learning.  Students now have so many opportunities available to them that allow them to take their learning in new directions.  School projects in my day involved trawling through the limited information available in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ladybird books or the teacher’s general knowledge, and then copying images neatly into a jotter and summarising the key facts.  Today I can remember very little of the different breeds of dogs or the Kings and Queens of Britain…

The students who have worked on the Endeavour projects in the three years since it began will hopefully have a much clearer recollection of their learning in the future, and may even be able to relate the skills they began to develop in primary school to those required in their future careers.  The personalisation and choice of developing your own project, the usefulness of transferable skills development and the satisfaction of solving problems independently will surely have a more significant impact on their future selves.

One of the first Endeavour participants in primary 7.  Keen to be a fisherman like his father this boy wanted to use Endeavour to develop his own lobster fishing business.  He wrote to the business teacher at the High School to find out how to do accounts correctly and received a wealth of information, from which he set up spreadsheets to record the lobsters he sold to his father.  100_7215Then he researched the costs of buying fishing boats online and looked into finance, calculating how much he would need to save up for a deposit.  He also researched the life cycle of a lobster and the importance of ethical fishing practices to maintain lobster numbers for the future and created a photo diary explaining the process behind lobster fishing.  In the final Endeavour showcase he bought into school lobsters which he sold for a good profit to teachers and parents- they were extremely tasty!

In his Endeavour project he was able to develop the skills for work and possible future career that were relevant to him, and was far more motivated than in other areas of his learning as a consequence.  Endeavour projects are a great way to develop skills for life, learning and work in school.