Category Archives: Bo’ness Academy

Grangemouth HS Developing Practitioner Enquiry for Professional Learning

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Yvonne McBlain attended the most recent meeting of secondary professional learning co-ordinators to hear how Falkirk secondary schools are using an enquiring approach to their self-evaluation and development of teaching and learning. Yvonne provided an update on the success and impact of the practitioner enquiry element of Falkirk Children’s Services’ probationer induction programme. Co-ordinators from each school then shared how they are exploring the extent to which this approach can impact on learning. Ash Wood, depute head at Grangemouth HS wrote up the following account of what this looks like in his school.

We have purchased resources to supply a “practitioner enquiry” section for teachers in our library.  We also offer limited financial support to enable teachers to buy resources to support their enquiry.  When they have completed their findings these resources are added to the library.  We have created a one side of A4 template for teachers to complete to share their findings with their colleagues.  Mrs Laura Gallagher (Teacher of Chemistry) has developed an interactive “toolkit” for teachers to use to help them understand, prepare for and complete a practitioner enquiry.  She has also conducted a pilot of the tool with her faculty colleagues and received very positive feedback both about the toolkit and the benefits of the practitioner enquiry process.  Laura has also shared and demonstrated her toolkit to CPD Co-ordinators in the authority.

Dr Alex Fraser (Teacher of Biology) will present his practitioner enquiry on pupil voice to our Extended Leadership Team later this session to promote the benefits of practitioner enquiry and demonstrate its relevance.  His findings will support PTs who have pupil voice as part of the Faculty Improvement Plans.

Laura will promote her toolkit, and practitioner enquiry in general at our staff meeting in February.  Leanne Welsh and Amy Nichol, two of our NQTs from last session who are now with us permanently, will also share their practitioner enquiries from last session to illustrate the process and how it has benefited their practice.

We are currently considering using our core School Improvement Groups as a way of taking practitioner enquiry forward, while conscious that the voluntary nature of the exercise is key to teacher “buy-in”.

 

Falkirk Learning for Sustainability Showcase Had a “Great Buzz”

WordleOur first Falkirk Learning to Achieve Showcase took place on 4th June between 4-5.30pm at Camelon Education Centre. 64 practitioners came along to get ideas, or to share work they had done with pupils relating to the themes in the Learning for Sustainability word cloud (top left).

17 pupils from St Bernadette’s RC PS, St Francis Xavier’s RC PS, Deanburn PS, Larbert HS & Stenhousemuir PS – stole the show with their enthusiastic and passionate explanations of their work. They very naturally demonstrated that they were confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens. Ellie Williams, a pupil from Bo’ness Academy, held the room spellbound with her performance of her own song “Train Track” then “Ae Fond Kiss”. Her music and lyrics powerfully communicated her feelings about her own community and were so evocative when combined with her beautiful, note-perfect singing.  IMG_4660

Anthony Hutcheson, Development Officer for Learning for Sustainability, Education Scotland opened the event with a brilliant, concise presentation of what LfS is all about. He really set the scene for the event and has been a great support for our LfS mobilisation team (Jane Jackson ,Yvonne McBlain, Megan Farr & Tony Bragg) and our emerging Falkirk Learning for Sustainability network.

IMG_4682During the short formal part of the event programme we were delighted to celebrate the achievements of 7 teachers who have gained Professional Recognition from GTCS for their Global Storyline development work. Kim McAuley, Global Education Advisor with the West of Scotland Development Education Centre (WOSDEC) kindly presented the following teachers with their certificates Liz Stephen & Laura Beattie (Deanburn PS), Heather Nicol (Carron PS), Holly Keenan (Bonnybridge PS), Brenda Bennie & Gemma Douglas (Kinnaird PS), Jennifer Main (Wallacestone PS). Our education service is proud to recognise this achievement, and it was great that the audience attending were able to help us celebrate their contribution in a public way. IMG_4658

Jane Jackson linked the content of Anthony’s presentation really well to set the scene for Ellie’s performance and then the mingling and sharing of good practice began.

17 establishments were represented at the event: Mariner Support Service, Kinnaird PS, Rannoch Nursery, Bonnybridge PS, Deanburn PS, St Francis Xavier’s RC PS nursery class and their SCIAF project, Stenhousemuir PS, Larbert HS, St Bernadette’s RC PS, Carrongrange School, Larbert Village PS, Wallacestone PS, Slammanan PS, Limerigg PS, Denny HS, Airth PS and Grangemouth HS. Our own Learning Resource Service took over room 13 and turned it into a wonderful cornucopia of resources useful for supporting teaching and learning around Learning for Sustainability – as always, these were beautifully presented and selected.   Visitors could circulate from this room, via the sustainably decorated improvised café (where consultation on LfS in Falkirk could be left, and leaflets could be picked up) into the main market place, then into the foyer where all of the stalls and displays were set up.

IMG_4680The event was made even more valuable by the participation of a number of organisations who support teaching and learning through Learning for Sustainability, and/or can provide professional learning for practitioners. These included Communities along the Carron (CATCA), Scottish Development Education Centre (SCOTDEC), Project Trust, the British Red Cross, and Grounds for Learning. The John Muir Trust, and Traidcraft were kind enough to send in leaflets and materials for distribution at the event. Yvonne McBlain and Jane Jackson would like to thank everyone involved for their enthusiastic participation, and for creating that lovely BUZZ.

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The SCOTS Programme in Falkirk – Schools College Opportunities To Succeed

Steve Dougan, Falkirk Council Opportunities for All Co-ordinator, has been working with staff in all of Falkirk Council’s high schools as well as staff in Forth Valley College to develop the SCOTS  (Schools College Opportunities To Succeed) programme for learners in Falkirk. The video below provides a summary of the programme and the positive impact it has had on young people.

RED Book Award

 

Yvonne Manning , Principal Librarian, Service and School Improvement Team of Falkirk Council Education Service led the 8th RED Book Award ceremony on the 29th January  2014 in the Falkirk Town Hall.

 The shortlist this year was Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson, Torn by David Massey, Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley and Slated by Teri Terry.

This year there was an international dimension to the Book Award with young people from Nairobi (International School of Kenya and Mathare North Library) shadowing the award. It was very successful and they have renamed their book group The RED Book Club!

250 pupils from  the secondary schools in Falkirk Council participated in the Book Award reading, enjoying and debating the shortlisted books. Along with the Kenyan young people, they voted in December for their favourite book and planned a creative interpretation of one of the books to be performed at the award ceremony.

The Award ceremony had a wonderful atmosphere thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of the young people. The performances showcased the creativity and  confidence of the young people. We particularly enjoyed the performances from Nairobi sent to us electronically. At the ceremony the radio broadcast team from St Mungo’s High School recorded interviews, pupil journalists from Graeme and Larbert High Schools wrote a news report which will appear in The Falkirk Council News, a film team from Braes High School filmed the event and a pupil from Falkirk High School, interested in photography, shadowed the council photographer.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Feedback from the some of the authors:

“Thank you so much for everything this week. I had the best time at the RED book awards. I think having the colour red as part of things added such a fun element to the day. I really enjoyed myself, and was amazed at how good the presentations by the schools were. ” Teri Terry

“Could I just say a big thank you, on behalf of David and myself, for the hospitality shown to us during our time in Falkirk. We enjoyed our visit to Scotland so much and are looking forward to returning when we have more time. Some of our favourite moments were seeing the children act out parts of the shortlisted books – especially Torn of course!” David Massey

And the winner of RED 8 is Slated by Teri Terry

Active Approaches to Numeracy

 

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Service and School Improvement Team recently organised a professional learning opportunity entitled ‘Active Approaches to Numeracy’. 57 colleagues from Primary, Secondary and the Curriculum Support team (including QIO) spent the day examining a range of active strategies to improve attainment in mental mathematics.

 Helen MacKinven, from Big Maths provided an overview of strategies including: jigsaw numbers, CLIC and partitioning. Colleagues were also treated to the experience of a ‘Beat That’ mental maths quiz.

Clusters then worked together to look at ways forward to improve attainment in mental maths. Feedback from this day has been extremely positive.

A number of colleagues have put their names forward to be part of the Numeracy Mobilisation Team. This work will inform the update of Falkirk Council’s numeracy strategy. The first meeting for this group is being held on 12th February. For further information on this, please contact Sharon Wallace at sharon.wallace@falkirk.gov.uk

English Focus Group – Active Literacy

Sharon Wallace, Effective teaching and learning teacher and Carol Paton, Curriculum Support Officer, both of the Curriculum Support Team have begun work with a focus group of English teachers with representatives from all Falkirk High Schools.

This group has been set up to identify the key features of current approaches to the learning and teaching of English and to identify commonalities and differences between Primary and Secondary establishments.

The group began the first meeting defining Active Literacy. They then went onto provide an overview of current practice in the teaching of English in their schools.

 Colleagues from our High Schools have requested a further meeting with Sharon and Carol to examine the Active Literacy key methodologies and strategies explicitly taught at Early, First and Second level.

Sharon was able to share some of the online resources available via GLOW, Falkirk’s You Tube Active Literacy training videos as well as the Curriculum for Excellence – engaging parents short film.

Colleagues were able to consider next steps in establishing effective transition of literacy skills across learning. These included sharing ideas with their department, reviewing materials on GLOW and finding out more about Active Literacy in their cluster primary schools.

Comments included:

‘Am looking forward to coming back and finding out more about Active Literacy’.

‘Thanks – looking forward to meeting again’.

Cooperative Learning – Secondary SLA training

Sharon Wallace, Effective teaching and learning teacher, along with Carol Paton, both of the Curriculum Support Team delivered a Cooperative Learning academy to 80 Secondary High School Support for Learning Assistants at Grangemouth High School.

The academy examined a range of Cooperative Learning strategies and aimed to raise confidence and knowledge of how to support class teachers and lead small groups using Cooperative Learning techniques.

Newly formed ‘home’ teams developed their team identity with the design of a flag which encapsulated commonalities. One stray, three stray was used to share the learning. Colleagues also participated in ‘think, pair, share’, ‘stand and deliver’, ‘paired reading’ and  group processing activities. A range of social skills were included across all of the activities.

Class builders included an ‘inside/ outside circle’, ‘corners’, ‘find someone who’ and  clock partners.

The day concluded with the sharing of team poems which were delivered with confidence, enthusiasm and lots of laughter!

Next steps were examined and colleagues returned to their schools to share their new learning.

Click here to view full presentation: SLA day course revised april 2013

For more information on Cooperative and Collaborative learning, please visit: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/learningteachingandassessment/approaches/collaboration/index.asp

Powtoon, School YouTube Channel, Twitter for Schools, Maths Interactives and History On This Day – a support session for ICT Co-ordinators in Falkirk Primary Schools

Powtoon, School YouTube Channel, Twitter for Schools, Maths Interactives & History On This Day – some of the tools presented by Malcolm Wilson (ICT Curriculum Development Office in the Curriculum Support Team of Falkirk Council Education Services) at the support sessions for ICT Co-ordinators in Falkirk Primary Schools (and to which secondary ICT Co-ordinators are also invited) – an opportunity to be guided through a hands-on exploration and use of a variety of online tools to support learning and teaching in Falkirk primary schools.

* The YouTube Channels for Falkirk Council Education Services and schools provides a resource to share videos created for Education Services in Falkirk Council as well as a link to each of the YouTube channels of Falkirk Council educational establishments. Having a school YouTube Channel provides a means to upload school-created videos and more easily share or embed elsewhere such as class blogs or school websites. Playlists in a YouTube Channel also let you bring together videos, of relevance to your own school, created by others from elsewhere on YouTube in topic/curricular headings. Falkirk school YouTube channels are created centrally for each school on request so that the technical setup of settings, etc, is not a burden on schools, yet the control for the each school channel is with the school.

* Powtoon provides a free online tool to create short animated promotional videos for schools or event in schools. These can be embedded on school websites and blogs. These animated videos can be used to promote a school event, activity or explain a topic. A description and examples can be found here: http://glo.li/WY4Ek2.

Interactive Teaching Programs for Numeracy and Mathematics are free online resources designed for whole-class teaching via interactive whiteboard. Each tool is versatile in letting teachers use it in any way to best suit the needs of their learners. For each tool there is an extensive helpguide available as a pdf for viewing either on-screen or printing out. These tools are designed to support the teaching and learning process with a teacher guiding a pupil, group or class of pupils, through their learning, and a pace appropriate to them. They are flexible tools so can be used at many stages in primary school. There is a host of tools included covering: Area, Calculating angles, Coordinates, Counting on and back, Data handling, Decimal number line, Difference, Division Grid, Fixing points, Fractions, Grouping, Isometric grid, Line graph, Measuring cylinder, Measuring scales, Moving digits, Multiplication facts, Multiplication grid, Number dials, Number facts, Number facts, Number grid, Number line, Number spinners, Ordering numbers, Place value, Polygon, Remainders after division, Ruler, Symmetry, Tell the time, Thermometer, and Twenty cards. They are available online here: http://glo.li/UR9HOS

* #OnThisDay in History – resources for connecting historical events, related to specific anniversary dates, to pupils today, can provide a means to connect events of past with work in class on specific days across curriculum – helps make connections with the past whether for a curricular area, a historical topic era, or lesson starter on any specific day. These free online tools provide short descriptions of events which happened on each day in the calendar (for any year). They can be searched on specific days, and any year. So if studying a historical period such as World War 2, the Romans, etc then events in sequnce day by day in any particular year can be shown. If teachers like to help pupils relate to historical events sometimes the starting link can be to look at events which happened on the day (in any any year) of their birth, or the year of their birth. If looking for links to music events, or studying art techniques through artists in history, then there are specific sites here which group these related anniversaries of events (including first performances, display, births and deaths).   The information which suits the occasion for the teacher and learners on any specific occasion can be used on a class blog or school website as a “hook” to connect events yesterday and today http://glo.li/Whu37F

* Twitter for schools – most Falkirk schools have school  Twitter accounts to help share activities going on in the school and increase engagement by the wider community. A list of these Falkirk educational establishments with links to their Twitter feeds (as well as resources supporting the use of Twitter by schools) can be found here: http://glo.li/12iKXTz. Once the Twitter feed of posts is embedded on school websites, posting information via Twitter on a mobile device makes it quicker to add news items onto the website as the information being shared by the school is instantly shared on the website without the need to log into the editing panel of the school website. Using Twitter also means that parents and others in the school community can choose to follow the latest information from the school, and share this with others to help more widely spread the good work of the school. Support can be provided to schools looking at setting up and using a school Twitter account or getting it added to a school website.

Feedback from participants at the support sessions included:

“Great, practical ideas as ever!” JC – St Bernadette’s Primary School

“Lots of useful resources.” AW – Head of Muir Primary School

“Lots of great ideas today – very worthwhile.” GM – St Joseph’s Primary School

“Now a convert to Twitter!” CM – Bo’ness Academy

“Yet another very useful session – many thanks.” LB – Moray Primary School

“Helpful and informative insight into ICT developments.” SD – Grangemouth High School

“Lots of great ideas.” FB – Kinnaird Primary School

“Great information – thanks!” FK – Bantaskin Primary School

“Thank you – very informative as always!” CH – Comely Park Primary School

“Very practical and helpful as ever.” RO – Easter Carmuirs Primary School

Smart Response tools to support Assessment for Learning

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support team, organised and supported a hands-on continuing professional development session presented by Anne Forrest of Steljes for staff from a variety of primary and secondary schools in Falkirk on the use of Smart Response tools to support Assessment for Learning.

Anne Forrest took participants through the use of Smart Response handsets to respond to a series of questions, then showed how that information could be used by the teacher to support learning and teaching in the classroom. Then she guided everyone through the steps to set up their own teacher profile and their class lists, so that when pupils use the handsets the responses could be analysed by the teacher to provide support as required. Anne Forrest made her resources available to all participants, which can be accessed by clicking here (note that a Glow username and password is required to access these resources).

Smart Response tools work in tandem with Smart Board interactive whiteboard software and provide a means for teachers to get feedback from all of their pupils in their class. This can be before a class starts work on a new topic in any curricular area in order to guage the prior learning of pupils, or they can be used regularly during a teaching session to let the teacher keep ensuring pupils have understood each step before proceeding to the next step (or quickly pick up where different teaching strategies might be required), or as an assessment at the end of a teaching session.

Sometimes called classroom response systems, class voting tools or clickers, these Smart Response tools are just one type of the many tools now available specifically to help gather feedback from all pupils in a class. These let teachers get a quick response at the beginning, during or end of a teaching session. This way the teacher has a wider overview of the undertsanding at any time of the whole class and not just of a few individual pupils. Used as part of an Assessment for Learning strategy a teacher can change the pace or direction of teaching to take account of responses from pupils.

There are many free pre-created templates and question sets ready to be downloaded and adapted by teachers to suit the needs of their own pupils. Click here for the online Smart Exchange site where these can be downloaded.

Click here for more information about classroom response systems.

Responses from participants included:

“Very useful session – took us through the set up step by step which was fab – learned lots – thank you! What an amazing tool.” KD – Stenhousemuir PS

“An excellent course – very informative and great, easy to follow instructions. I can’t wait to try them out. Thank you.” LD – Langlees PS

“A super session and great explanation on how to use Smart response.” JM – Bantaskin PS