Category Archives: Falkirk Council Educational Establishments

St Patrick’s RC PS enjoys the benefits of student exchange

WP_20160620_006[1]Pupils and staff at St Patrick’s RC PS in Denny have enjoyed hosting student teacher Marjorie Brewer from Chicago, USA. Marjorie arrived in Scotland in early May, and has been working with  Victoria Daly’s primary 1 class, and Antoinette Irwin’s primary 5 class.

She feels she has benefitted a great deal from getting to know the Scottish school system, and from experiencing both primary stages, and being part of the wider life of the school.

Marjorie’s student teacher exchange placement at St Patrick’s RC PS was arranged between head teacher Anne O’Donnell, Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support officer, Falkirk Children’s Services, and Laura Stachowski, Director, Global Gateway for Teachers, Indiana University Bloomington. When Yvonne popped into school for a quick visit, primary 5 were enjoying a writing lesson led by Marjorie. She used a power point about her home city as a stimulus for the lesson, and adapted elements of Antionette’s practice to give pupils sufficient structure, but also room for personal freedom and creativity within their writing task. Pupils were responding well, by creating a diary of their imaginary visit to that city.

WP_20160620_001[1]Finlay in primary 5 feels that having a student teacher from another country has been “A new experience – a bit more fun.”. Emma B enjoyed learning about schooling in Chicago – “Miss Brewer did a big powerpoint to show us what it was like and gave us tasks to do…we learned about Will’s Tower and the schools she was in before here…they have different desks,… where they put their school bags,… they don’t wear uniforms…” and Sophie T said that Marjorie has taught them “strategies like Venn diagrams … when she needs quiet, she says “To infinity” and we shout “and BEYOND!”

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Antionette said “It’s been a super experience. Listening and hearing about other methodologies and the ways that things are structured in America has had the kids fascinated. It’s not that different, but it’s nice for them to hear how children of the same age learn.”

Marjorie has been made very welcome by her ” homestay mom” Morag Duff, learning support teacher at St Patrick’s. Morag took Marjorie to see some of our local sights, and Marjorie will continue her travels once her placement at St Patrick’s RC PS ends. Marjorie has been keeping her own blog about her experience – click here to view.

 

Curriculum Development at Hallglen PS

IMG_2666On 19th April, Yvonne McBlain popped back to gather staff feedback on their curriculum development so far at Hallglen Primary School. 10 staff members were kind enough to give their time and views during this informal evaluation activity. You can read more about Hallglen’s curriculum development process here.

Staff described the following impact:

  1. Increased knowledge of the curriculum – specifically their ability to interpret the skills, knowledge and understanding built into the experiences and outcomes. This has helped them to build their curriculum more effectively, and enabled better planning.
  2. Although they didn’t realise it at the time, they were moderating their teaching and learning in various ways – through collegiate discussion, learning walks, and then joint planning with stage and level partners. This has helped integrate moderation and collegiality naturally, and contributed to a positive ethos and culture of sharing good practice and ongoing self-evaluation.
  3. Have a powerful understanding of progression – know which E & Os needed to be consistently progressed, and which ones could be done less often.
  4. Topics in school have changed radically and are much more relevant and responsive to pupil needs. Everyone in school has  an overview of which contexts are being used – not just for their own stage or level. This has enabled more powerful and effective transition between stages, and teachers feel confident and clear about what they have to teach and why.There is greater consistency across the school – they have a shared language, u nderstanding and vision for their curriculum
  5. Learning walks, peer moderation and observation visits are all more purposeful and help staff evaluate their progress together.
  6. Next steps in curriculum development are therefore clearer to all, but staff are looking forward to their formal, whole school collegiate evaluation of the changes made this session.
  7. There is the facility to offer pupils flexible and responsive progression pathways across the curriculum

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One of the new developments staff have worked on this session, is pupil understanding of the curriculum. This was felt to be a valuable way to increase attainment and pupil participation, and teachers developed specific learning experiences for their classes. Staff can see ways in which these lessons can be made more meaningful and appropriate to age and stage, and further development of these lessons will be done, but already the following impact has been observed:

  1. Children can have a genuine input into planning their learning.
  2. They now quite naturally reflect upon and evaluate their learning in action during a project as well as at the end.
  3. Pupils have the vocabulary and language to comment effectively on their learning.
  4. The curriculum lessons have “made the penny  drop” for a number of pupils – they can better understand the purpose and structure of the learning they need.
  5. Pupils have a better appreciation of what learning is and what they need to do to help themselves learn.
  6. They are now getting to know their curriculum and can see and comment on links across the curriculum. (Staff are therefore tackling the very challenging job of developing pupil understanding of interdisciplinary learning.)
  7. Pupils have the confidence to make respectful suggestions about how the teaching they receive could better meet their needs.
  8. They are better motivated and engaged by their learning.
  9. They think more deeply about their learning and can talk about it fluently.

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The need for a pupil curriculum understanding lesson was discussed at the last inset day and staff agreed to teach their lessons at the same time in the session. A general lesson was provided which each staff member adapted for their class if they wanted to. Stacey Walker, Kara-Anne Kelly and Louise McGlynn all talked enthusiastically about what they did, why they did it, and what the outcomes were. Stacey,  Kara-Ann and Laura Hurren then gathered the photos of work and displays shared in this post. Click here to listen to their description of this work. Yvonne would like to thank everyone involved for their time, especially Stacey, Kara-Anne and Laura for taking the time to record these files.

Building Resilience at St Francis Xavier RC PS

IMG_20160324_144313Over the past two years, pupils and staff at St Francis Xavier Primary School have been building their emotional resilience in lots of different ways. With the support of Mrs Quinn, nine pupils from the primary 6 and 7 classes wrote this blog post  to explain what they did, and what they feel they have learned:

 

  1. Discussing coping strategies – “Not to be too sad” Aleena,  “You’ve got the right to feel how you feel, you’ve got to try and move on” Samuel
  2. Learning how to work better with other people – Ashleigh  “Co-operating with others helps take your mind off bad things, by learning how to work with other people, you can learn how to help them if they are going through grief.” Jenna “When we are doing group tasks together, we were learning how to work as a team and talk out loud to each other.”  Darcy “If you work better with them, they work better with you, you get a better job done.” Alicia “It helps you to know how they are feeling on the inside, so you can talk to them in a kind way. So when something happens to them, they don’t show it on the outside, but you know how they are feeling on the inside.” Samuel “Learning how to work better with people makes you more confident about telling them personal things.” Kirsten

IMG_22473. Sharing their knowledge of how to cope with bullying: “Instead of taking it really, really personally, you may feel terrible on the inside but don’t show it because if they see that they’ll see that it’s hurting you and keep on doing it. So don’t show it and they’ll probably stop – they just want attention.” Lewis     “Instead of hiding it, you should tell someone about it.” Lucy,  “If you don’t speak up, it probably won’t stop, if you share your knowledge, it could make a big difference to somebody else” Alicia

4.  Exploring death rituals – “Exploring the death rituals, you realise that everybody dies and that everybody has a different way to celebrate them.” Alicia, “We looked at different ways that different religions showed death, and I really liked seeing how everybody share theirs. It was interesting that we all did much more homework than usual for this task.” Jenna

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5. Developing our understanding of grief – “It’s helped me by giving me different ways to deal with it.” Lucy, “It’s helped me because I understand other people’s grief now and can support them better.” Darcy

6. Realising that death is a part of life “You can’t stop it from happening and it will happen to everyone eventually.” Aleena  “We kind of realised it more because it has to happen eventually – you can’t live forever. When we were talking in groups or as a class about people who have passed away it makes you realise that you are not the only one who’s been through it – made you see more clearly.” Jenna  “We all realise that it hurts more, you don’t realise that it hurts so bad when it’s someone who is really close.” Kirsten

7. Discussing past experiences – “We all know that no matter who you are and what you’ve done, you’ll always be remembered and loved.” Samuel

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Braes Cluster Day of Dance 2016

IMG_1155Morag Simpson and  Morag Young, PE Lead Officers within Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team organised and delivered a Day of  Sottish Dance for the Braes Cluster. Avonbridge Primary kindly agreed to host the event with Sheildhill Primary and California also attending.

The day was a great success with lots of fun had by all and some fantastic dancing on display. The pupils from all schools worked well together, helping each other through the dances. We were treated to a creative Scottish Dance experience from California Primary at the interval. A huge thank you to Avonbridge for hosting and to all participants for performing so well on the day. We would also like to take this opportuity to thank Tesco in Camelon for providing the water and snack for the day.

St Mary’s RC PS perform with Scottish Opera

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On 17th February, primary 6 and 7 pupils at St Mary’s RC PS performed “Fever!” with members of Scottish Opera to a very varied audience. In the morning they completed their dress rehearsal by performing for a group of visitors from the Scottish Government, which included Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe & External Affairs.

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In the afternoon, they gave their actual performance for parents and guests in their local community. Both audiences gave the pupils rapturous applause and enjoyed the show immensely – as can be seen from the numerous videos and Tweets shared and liked – click here to take a look.

WP_20160217_005[1]Audrey Mackay, music specialist at St Mary’s, instigated the project so that the pupils could experience the Scottish Opera Education Pack and extend their wider life experience in new ways. Audrey, and her colleagues at St Mary’s are delighted to see the impact this experience has had on pupils involved. Click here to view the pack, which includes lots of valuable preparatory learning linked to science, health and well-being, literacy and music of course. This builds pupil understanding of diseases and our immune system, and helps them connect their learning to real life. Taking part in the performance, and working with the accomplished performers from Scottish Opera made this even more engaging and gave pupils an experience which will stay with them for a long time.

When asked what their favourite parts of the performance were, Debbie said “The bit where we play the air guitar.” and Karis liked when “We turn around and put on our shades”.

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Mariner Support Service Open Afternoon

Mariner invitationYvonne McBlain enjoyed popping into the Mariner Support Service Christmas Open Afternoon. Staff, pupils and parents have been working hard over the last weeks to prepare for this event and there was lots to see.

The event opened with a celebration of learning by pupils, with prizes for good work done this term. The young people demonstrated their enterprise and social skills during the event – selling home baking, raffle tickets, and meeting and greeting. Brandon was particularly welcoming, polite, and charming. WP_20151209_001[1]

The parents’ group have been creating all sorts of crafts in school on Wednesday afternoons. These were all for sale to help raise money for school funds, and included Christmas tree decorations, wreaths, jewellery, and home baking. This is one of the ways in which Mariner Support Service builds connections with parents and carers.

This event was a valuable way to build the life and ethos of the school, while progressing young people’s skills and experiences.

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Whitecross Primary invite parents and community to celebrate their anniversary

WP_20151202_001 On 2nd of December, Claire Quigley, head teacher of Whitecross PS and her staff hosted an unusual celebratory event on the 60th anniversary of the opening of their school.

This involved visitors in making a terracotta clay tile which was personal to them. These will be dried, fired, and added to a tiled display in the foyer of the school. Every pupil in the school has already made their tile, and many were primed and ready to help their parents and guests make one too. Pupils from Graeme HS supported their primary colleagues in making their tiles, and Henry Meldrum, art teacher has fired them all. WP_20151202_002

Visitors were taken into the school hall, and shown examples of the pupils’ tiles. Claire and colleagues demonstrated how to make the basic tile slab, then guests could decide how it should be decorated. Tony Bragg, team manager – performance management, and Eddie MacLennan, team manager – workforce development, joined in, and Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support officer, was delighted to make the “1955” date tiles which will be part of the commemorative display. WP_20151202_003

Jessie Dick came along and worked with her granddaughter Diane Balloch to make a tile. Both are former pupils of the school – Diane’s maiden name is Bryson, and her gran was known as Janet Reid, winner of the school dux medal in 1941-42. Jessie lives locally and enjoys return visits to the school, Diane said “It hasn’t really changed that much – the cloakrooms are gone – they’ve been made into classrooms now.”  WP_20151202_005

Claire, staff colleagues, and pupils, will host a formal launch event to unveil the tile display when installation is complete.

 

Postscript from Claire 15th December 2015:

We are sad to say that in the short time since this event Jessie Dick sadly passed away.  Our thoughts are with her family.

 

 

 

Pupils as Digital Leaders at Hallglen Primary School

HallglenPSDlsMalcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer within the Curriculum Support team of Service and School Improvement, Falkirk Council Children’s Services, supported a session with the Digital Leaders group of pupils in Hallglen Primary School.

These pupils are being supported for them to then support classes around the school in the use of technologies in their classrooms. They are led by teacher Louise McGlynn.

Communicating and Collaborating

This session let the pupils explore different features within Office 365, including a specially created SharePoint site for them in Microsoft Office 365 (which is accessed via their Glow username), their sites for each class, one for their Digital Leaders Group, their own site, the local authority site and a site within the national site. All learners in Glow have access to their own Outlook email account (each user has 50GB storage, and each email can have attachments up to 25MB), a discussion app (which provides the facility for pupils sharing questions, comments or responses to set tasks (peer to peer or teacher-pupils). weblink sharing, and a document store (where documents were created using Microsoft Word Online as part of Office 365, meaning that the document can be created online without need for the software to be installed on the PC or mobile device).

Simultaneous Collaborative Writing in Word Online

The pupils all worked simultaneously on a shared Word Online document in their Digital Leaders site (and were shown how the same could also be done in their own OneDrive personal storage area called MySite, giving them unlimited storage space online). They all collaborated on the same document online all at the same time from their own PCs – and there was general excitement as they vied with each other to add lines of text, increase or decrease font sizes, and see the resulting writing from the rest of the group change in front of their eyes, with flags in different colours indicating who had added or amended each section of the writing.

How to avoid being locked out of Glow when you forget your password

Pupils were shown how to set a recovery email address in their profile within Glow so that in the event that they forgot their password in the future they would not require to ask a member of staff to reset their password for them – they would simply be able to click on “Forgot your password?” on the login screen and an email would be sent to their recovery email address to then let them into Glow to reset their own password to one they will remember. To set up their recovery email address within Glow they login and on the RM Unify tiles screen click on their name at the top right-hand corner, then “My Profile” then add their email address, click save, and most importantly then go to that email account and click on the email which Glow will have sent to that email account and confirm it (without that last step the password recovery facility will not work.

Avatars

AvatarCreatorsPupils were shown how they could create an avatar (an image which would be seen throughout Office 365 as a fun representation of them) using one of the tools of their choice from this link, and how to add it to their Office 365 profile by going to Office 365, clicking on the head-and-shoulders icon at the top-right, then clicking on “change below the head-and-shoulders image to browse for their created avatar image and upload it. http://primaryschoolict.com/avatars/

Access via Mobile Device

Pupils were told about how they can be access Glow via a mobile device, with different apps for each tool, including Office Mobile (in order to be able to edit Word or Powerpoint for example) and OneDrive.

Newsfeed and Discussion tool for all pupils

Each class site in Hallglen Prmary School’s Glow site will have their own online collaborative class space created for them. Each class space is set up by default with access for pupils to view content added by their teacher, and with teachers able to add content anywhere in their site. The Discussion part and newsfeed app are both set for pupils to be able to contribute so that a teacher can set tasks, or ask questions and pupils are able to respond. The Digital Leaders have their own site which is set up for these specific pupils to be able to contribute in any part of their site, but with all other pupils to be able to respond to questions or tasks set by the digital leaders in the discussions part or newsfeed app.

Want to know more about Digital Leaders?

Several schools have pupils who act as supporters to other pupils in the use of digital technologies. More information about Digital Leaders can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/pupils-as-digital-leaders/