Category Archives: St Patrick’s RC Primary School

Sharing Classroom Chick Egg Hatching

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in the Curriculum Support team of  Service and School Improvement, Falkirk Council Education Services, has provided advice on request to various schools when they are taking part in a chick egg hatching project as part of science, and health & wellbeing elements of the curriculum.

So that pupils can enjoy watching the activities of the egg hatching and of the chicks, and share that with their parents and carers, at times outwith normal classroom times, often schools want to find ways to share live video of the eggs and chicks.

At its simplest a school could use a class blog, or the school website or the class, school (or specially set up project) Twitter account to share periodic photographs with short descriptive text of the activity happening. Recorded video could also be similarly shared.

However schools most frequently want to be sharing what’s happening at times outwith the normal school day.

So this is where live streaming of video via a webcam connected to a PC can provide the answer.

St Patrick’s Primary school in Denny is one recent example of a Falkirk primary school which set up live video streaming of the chick egg hatching process. Click here to see recorded excerpts from the live stream of the chick egg hatching project at St Patrick’s Primary School.

Do you want to set up live video streaming for a chick egg hatching project in your school?

Click here for a description of the process for setting up live video streaming for a chick egg hatching project.

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

Active Literacy – Networking

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Curriculum Support Team has hosted three Active Literacy Networking sessions this week at Camelon Education Centre.  Colleagues participated in Early, First and Second level network meetings with a focus on sharing good practice and professional discussion around literacy.

Colleagues from a number of Falkirk Council establishments participated in a range of activities including: updates, Using Smart Notebook Toolkit 2.0 and sharing good practice. Sharon was delighted to hear all the good practice and good news stories happening. It is really encouraging to hear how confident pupils are using the six key comprehension strategies in reading and how much pupils are enjoying learning new strategies to help with their common/ tricky words.

Teachers were provided with an update of all things new in the world of literacy including:

  1. The Literacy Strategy
  2. Every Day’s  a Learning Day
  3. The Daily What (Bothkennar’s article)
  4. Courses delivered this term including Using Twixter and Fakebook
  5. The Thinking Reader approach
  6. Using Blooms fans and comprehension skills triangles

Sharon demonstrated how Smart Notebook Toolkit 2.0 can be used to create effective learning experiences for spellings and phonics. Colleagues then produced their own Active Literacy games using anagram, keyword, multiple choice, sentence arrange, vortex sort, word biz and word guess.

Sharon then invited colleagues to share examples of good practice and these included:

  • Bainsford Primary teachers Emma Cuthbert and Claire Morrison shared some fabulous evidence of literacy using the outdoor environment and also how they have been engaging with parents and consolidating phoneme work. They also recommended the use of online support materials such as Geraldine the Giraffe!
  • Helen McNeill from Whitecross Primary shared some fabulous task cards she has produced to enable her learners to be independent in their Active Literacy activities.
  • Laura Cotton, a probationer from Bo’ness Public has produced her own materials using Toolkit 2.0 and she shared her lesson on the phoneme ‘ee’

Some colleagues were unable to attend, but still shared their good practice and these included:

  • Andrew Watson, DHT from Bonnybridge Primary kindly shared his reading planner for ‘The Wreck of the Zanzibar’
  • Carol from Laurieston shared her Reading toolkit for second level
  • Alison Marshall from Drumbowie shared her reading planner for Carrie’s War

Suggestions for the theme for the next round of network meetings included – more ideas using Toolkit 2.0 and reading. The Daily What and Film Club have offered to attend our network meetings to share what they can do to support schools too.

Active Literacy – P6/7 Training

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Curriculum Support Team has carried out Active Literacy training over the past two weeks with 54 teachers. The two three hour sessions examined the writing programme incorporating spelling and the reading programme.

Session one looked at how teachers can support pupils in becoming independent spellers. Pupils are taught strategies to use their previously learned knowledge of phonemes and spelling rules to more complex, polysyllabic words.

 The course examined the programme for spelling strategy work, alongside the new addition of ‘vocabulary building’, homophones and common confusions. Trials of the programme so far indicate that pupils are really enjoying the investigation element of prefixes and suffixes and how these affect the meaning of words.

The session also examined the writing genres covered at second level looking at incorporating writing trios, chunking, use of genre success criteria and next steps.

Session two focused on the development of the six key comprehension strategies across a range of texts. These strategies are:
1. Prior knowledge and prediction
2. Metalinguistics
3. Visualisation
4. Inference
5. Main ideas
6. Summarising and paraphrasing.

Sharon demonstrated how to develop these skills using a traditional ‘novel’ text, moving image (film trailer) and a poem. The course also looked at using online tools such as Powtoon, go animate and twixster to develop reading skills.

Colleagues were given a ‘Stories Allways’ resource containing a range of Scottish myths and legends as well as two CDs. This is a great resource as it provides pupils with a range of challenging questions, tasks and a synopsis of each tale.

Colleagues enthusiastically participated in a range of Active Literacy activities across the course of the two sessions and feedback so far has been really positive.

“The course was delivered extremely well by Sharon Wallace and the resources provided were very useful.”

“The course was presented over 2 days in which it provided an overview of the key methodologies and strategies as outlined in North Lanarkshire’s Active Literacy 6/7 programme. I thought all aspects of the course were useful and it enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the 6/7 programme which I will now be able to confidently implement in the classroom.”

“I am new to teaching as well as the Active Literacy programme. I had very little knowledge and understanding prior to the course however I now feel I can confidently implement active literacy in the classroom.”

“Sharon is a very enthusiastic presenter and it is clear that she wholly believes in the Active Literacy Programme. Her passionate delivery and ideas instil in you, the confidence to have a go in your own classroom.”

St Patrick’s Primary School CAT Session

Jane Jackson, Outdoor Development Officer and Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer – Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support Team, were invited to facilitate a CAT session for all teaching staff at St. Patrick’s Primary School on 29th April.  This is a follow up to the project that has been embraced by the Nursery Staff in getting the children off site regularly for the whole nursery session (see previous blog).

During this session, the staff took part in a number of practical activities that could be used with a class when taking them outside.  These activities ranged from creating a clock using natural materials to writing poetry.  See sample planner of activities.

Here are some of the poems that were created:

“North I stood facing the wood
to the East was buzzing a bumblebee
I turned to the West in my waterproof vest
then down to the South I spotted Grangemouth”

“Blue skies, fluffy clouds
what do you feel underground?
Turn around, what do you see?
bare trees and one queen bee
Church spire, lets enquire ….
I’m off to explore!”

Karen Downie, Principal Teacher, has already reported on the impact of the session – “Thanks for Monday night, I have to admit there was a wee buzz around the school on Tuesday and the foyer door was revolving all day with classes going outside.”

St Patrick’s staff will continue to develop Outdoor Learning within their school and Karen and Jane will carry out a follow up session on Monday 13th May.  Staff are also planning a full day outside on Friday 21st June as part of the ‘Play on the Longest Day’ initiative.

Watch this space for more information and some photos!

Exploring elements of planning with Denny Early Years Cluster

On Tuesday 16th April Yvonne McBlain from the Curriculum Support Team worked with 27 early years practitioners from the Denny cluster. She facilitated a workshop which explored how practitioners were integrating essential elements of assessment into their planning of interdisciplinary learning. The workshop gave these practitoners an opportunity to work with their establishment colleagues on 2 “challenges”. These challenges were designed to enable collaborative and individual self-evaluation of planning effective connected learning. They also supported identification of the most relevant next steps for partricipants. The session was designed to generate questions as well as providing access and guidance on next steps. Participants said that the session was “useful” “informative” “made you think” and was “well-designed and enjoyable”. Here is a selection of next steps identified by participants:

Further conversations with colleagues around planning

Think more about what our success criteria will be while planning – which should make evidence and assessment more relevant

Develop team’s ability to identify appropriate learning intentions and success criteria

Review approach to planning

Share with other staff (higher classes in school)

St Patrick’s Nursery Class

Relaxing in the woods!

Over the past three weeks,  Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support Team, has been supporting St Patrick’s Nursery Class to access the Stoneywood Woods in Denny as part of the nursery session. This initially involved meetings with Karen Downie, Principal Teacher, to identify and risk assess the site and address any issues that may arise. Information was then sent out to parents to inform them of the new inititiative that their children would have the opportunity to take part in (see parent presentation).  Karen then held information sessions for the parents to come along to and ask any questions they may have. Having gained consent from the parents, all nursery children have now had the opportunity to access these woods for the full nursery session, the children are dropped off and collected at a meeting point and then staff walk with the children into the woods. As with any normal nursery session, the children are given the opportunity to play freely, explore their own interests, the environment, build confidence and take risks.  The children also have a warm snack while outdoors. Some activities are set for the children (for example maths activities such as measuring and information handling).

It is now planned that staff will take this inititiave forward in the summer term and also look at other green spaces around the school to give the children the opportunity to explore a number of different environments. It is also planned to take this forward throughout the school.

Have a look at the videos taken throughout the sessions:-

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Exciting changes at Denny Town Centre

Lynne Lauder, Enterprise Co-ordinator, based at Camelon Education Centre attended an exciting meeting with Jacquie McArthur, Economic Development Officer within the Council’s Economic Development, Growth and Investment team today.

Plans are moving along for the new Denny Town Centre and Jacquie and Lynne will be meeting in early April to design a twilight CPD session aimed at staff in the Denny Cluster (but open to all) on utilising the town centre development as a context for learning. 

The session, which will be held in Camelon Education Centre on 22nd May, will include information on the plans, suggestions of how this can be tied into lessons and opportunities to consider skills development around the activities.   

The descriptor will be out to schools post Easter, so watch this space!  This could be just what you were looking for to make those crucial My Future’s in Falkirk links for your Enterprise Awards.

Outdoor Learning

Karen Thomson, Senior Early Years Officer, Falkirk Council Education Services, Curriculum Support Team provided support to nurseries prior to outdoor learning opportunities for early years children.

If you would like your nursery children to access a local woodland or greenspace here are some of the documents that could get you starting in your planning.  If you wish support in setting up this programme and supported visits from myself please contact me on 01324 503764.

Initial General Letter and Consent Form

Sample Outdoor Education flyer

Sample Powerpoint for Parents can be obtained by contacting Karen.