Category Archives: Probationers

Grangemouth HS Developing Practitioner Enquiry for Professional Learning

Image result for photo of grangemouth high school

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”.

 

Using ICT to develop creativity and innovation in the classroom

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer within the Curriculum Support team of Service and School Improvement, Falkirk Council Education Services presented hands-on practical sessions for all probationer teachers in Falkirk primary schools, on using ICT to develop creativity and innovation the classroom.

There was a guided exploration of the wide variety of open-ended software installed on all PCs across all Falkirk primary schools, which can be used to support learning and teaching across the curriculum at all stages – and a reminder that resources to support every piece of software (providing examples as well as guides and tutorials) could be found online here: ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

There were practical activities related to how the free audio-editing tool Audacity might be used to support learning and teaching across a range of curricular areas. Recording voice, moving sections of recorded sound to different parts just like a word-processor, adding special effects (robotic and raising the pitch just being some) to create interest for pupil-read texts, adding a music soundtrack and varying the volumes of spoken word and music. More can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2013/03/25/school-radio-podcasting-pupils/

There were practical activities making use of one of the spreadsheet/graphing programs on all Falkirk primary school networked PCs, RM Starting Graph to show how such tools can enhance engagement with information handling both in mathematics and across the curriculum, so that the learning can be focussed on the questions being asked rather than on recording the information. More information about spreadsheets/graphing software for primary schools can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2011/03/30/spreadsheets/

The session provided a guided exploration of the tools and resources available for use with Smartboard interactive whiteboards (which are in almost all Falkirk primary school classrooms) to support teachers and learners across a wide range of classroom activity, including a host of pre-created Smart Notebook resources created and shared by teachers in Falkirk schools, as well as pointing out access to the worldwide network of educators who have shared resources in Smart Exchange: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2011/08/18/smart-exchange/

The session provided hands-on guided opportunity to explore the software 2DIY from 2Simple which provides the means for teachers and primary pupils to create their own interactive resources, activities, games, puzzles, quizzes. More information about this software can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2010/11/11/game-making-in-the-primary-classroom-with-2diy-from-2simple/

Guided hands-on practical activities were provided in the use of collaborative tools within Microsoft office 365 through Glow, using Word online to create and share a document in either a user’s online store space OneDrive (or from a class space), jointly edit at the same time as other users, add encouraging comments to the work of another (and all which can be done on a mobile device), use Outlook to share with others in the room, and to see possibilities for using the Lync video-conferencing tool – all within the Glow environment. More information about Office 365 can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2012/07/10/microsoft-office-365-for-education/

Practical activities were provided in making use of the programming robots (whether the robot or the software versions) making use of Roamerworld software (including the pre-created scenarios such as subway and storks which provide a learning context for the logical thinking, collaboration, maths of shape, position and movement and much more). More information about these programming tools can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2011/04/20/beebot-to-logo/

To help with classroom engagement some free tools were also used in the session which can be used in the classroom, including timerr and random-name-selectors. More can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2010/08/19/countdown-timer-from-classtools/

Encouragement was given to make use of Twitter both for sharing classroom activity and as a professional to develop a professional learning network to share ideas and benefit from the collective knowledge and skills of colleagues worldwide. More information about setting up and using a class twitter account can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2013/03/05/twitter-for-schools-and-classes/. More information about using twitter to develop a professional learning network can be found here: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/fa/ICTFalkirkPrimaries/2011/08/16/personal-learning-network/

Visitors from the Flemish Community in Falkirk.

Anne Hutchison (Support Officer for Professional Development), Hazel Cunningham and Nicola Soroka (Probationers Supporters) and colleagues in the Curriculum Support team welcomed educationalists from the Flemish Community. This gave them a flavour of life in Falkirk’s schools and an overview of the unique support provided by the Council for Probationer teachers.
In the morning, the group visited Airth Primary School, Grangemouth High School and St. Mungo’s RC High School, where they had the opportunity to meet staff and pupils.
In the afternoon, the group participated in the Induction Meeting for next session’s Probationer teachers.
We would like to thank GTCS for providing the opportunity to work with a great group of people! Thanks also must go to Julie McKenna, Paul Dunn, Stephen Phee and their colleagues for making the group welcome in their schools.

Primary Probationer Teachers Get to Know the Teaching for Deep Learning Programme

Yvonne McBlain and Sharon Wallace of Falkirk Curriculum Support Team recently introduced the primary probationer teachers to the Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning Programme. During this introduction, participants experienced programme session 1 “What is Understanding”. This session explores the concept of understanding and has been used by a number of teacher learning communities in Falkirk schools. Here are some of the definitions of understanding created by the probationer teachers:

Understanding is applying and transfering knowledge flexibly as well as being able to teach others.

Understanding is achieved through repetition (perhaps in different contexts).

Understanding is transferring  the skill and  knowledge to another context. Embedding the skill through revisiting.

– apply and transfer knowledge to other areas of the curriculum

– be able to explain to others

Click here to access Session 1 through Glow, and here to see the power point presentation from Sharon and Yvonne’s session with probationer teachers.

Physical Education Conference

Morag Young and Morag Simpson, Physical Education Lead Officers for Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team attended the  inaugural conference for the Scottish Association of Physical Education Teachers (SATPE). This was held at  Tulliallan Castle on Saturday 2nd November 2013.   The occasion highlighted the importance of professional dialogue, the sharing of good practice and the unity of practitioners across the country. The key note speaker was Paralympian David Smith, a truly inspirational individual.

Presentations from the event will be available from the website shortly. www.SATPE.co.uk 

Individuals can join SATPE for £25 or a primary school membership costs £40. For this membership you will gain access to an online journal, teaching resources, notification of relevant events and discounts from association sponsors.

The PE Lead Officers across Scotland are encouraging schools to join the association to assist their professional development in reaching the 2 hour PE target.

Probationers Experience Active Literacy

 Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Team has delivered Active Literacy training this week to all primary probationer teachers in Falkirk.

The two sessions covered the range of strategies and methodologies used across all stages to develop skills in all areas of literacy.

The probationers enthusiastically participated in activities including a spelling test to highlight how we draw on our own phonological awareness, knowledge of spelling rules and phonemes to spell words. They also put a series of words into Elkonin boxes examining the 40 phonemes in the Active Literacy programme.

Sharon provided the primary probationers with a full overview of the programme from early to second level. They developed their knowledge of phonemic awareness, spelling strategies including: mnemonics, words within words and syllabification. Colleagues are aware of how the five finger strategy, effective use of resources such as Smart notebook tools, magnetic boards and letters and reciprocal teaching can enable pupils to become better spellers. Evidence is showing that pupils are transferring their knowledge of phonemes to other types of writing in different situations.

Sharon also explained how the six key comprehension reading strategies are used across a range of ‘texts’. Probationer teachers discussed the reading skills they are currently developing with their classes and how the six key comprehension strategies supports this development.

In terms of writing, Sharon provided colleagues with an overview of the seven different genres and how these should be addressed across the course of the year.

Sharon also shared the new Active Literacy for parents animation.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/TnXMSAcKcCo" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]Feedback so far has been very positive and has included:

“Thanks very much for the course. I feel really enthusiastic and excited to try out the Active Literacy strategies in class.”

Primary Probationers Go Outdoors!

Jane Jackson, Outdoor Learning Development Officer, Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team, has been working with the primary probationer teachers exploring how outdoor learning can become an integral part of their planning and teaching.   

There is no better way to demonstrate the range of ways that outdoor learning can contribute to CfE than by getting out there and doing it yourself.  The probationers took part in a wide range of activities, after having got the fire going and set up our base for the day.

They all agreed that we have covered many curricular areas with some very simple, fun, exciting activities  that could readily be used for further learning back at school.

The main purpose of the session was to challenge participants thinking about outdoor learning and to raise awareness of the benefits of learnng outside the classroom.