Category Archives: Assessment

Subject Development Groups

Gillian Campbell (Curriculum Support Officer for Secondary) has been working, since taking up post in September, on the creation of ‘Subject Development Groups’ (SDGs) for Falkirk schools. At present we now have 25 groups representing the subject areas which our secondary schools present to SQA for new National Qualifications.

Each secondary school can appoint a subject specialist to join this group and the majority of the 25 SDGs have represenatation from each of the schools.

In their most recent meetings these groups have created action plans detailing the development work they feel is needed for the coming year in their specific subject area. Individuals and groups have opted to take on pieces of development work which will then be shared across the authority.

In additon to planning upcoming developments these groups discuss their experiences in implementating the NQs and as a platform for quality assurance of materials and for completing authority level moderation. In a time of massive curricular change in Scotland there has been recognition of the importance of secondary teachers working across schools to share workload and these groups are an excellent example of such collaboration.

For more information on SDGs and their work email: gillian.campbell@falkirk.gov.uk

Effective Teaching – Uganda style

 

Yvonne McBlain, from Falkirk Council curriculum support team was fascinated to hear about the parallels observed by Sarah Ritchie and Jill Stocks during their recent visit to Uganda. Sarah  embarked upon this visit expecting to focus on the differences between Scottish teaching and that delivered in Uganda. However, instead she has been struck by the similarities of the fundamental elements of teaching in Kampala and Bonnybridge!  One of her first observations was the sharing of learning objectives with pupils – in Kampala classrooms these are very effectively shared with pupils – despite the differences in resourcing levels there. Teachers in Uganda are challenged by very large classes, small classrooms and limited resources – a chalk board and a piece of chalk basically. In spite of these limitations these teachers are making extremely effective use of what we would call formative assessment. Other aspects of practice familiar to Scottish teachers commonly used were: pupils teaching pupils, active strategies used to gauge understanding, regular peer feedback, a very natural and integrated use of outdoor learning, and a very creative range of randomising techniques. Teachers at every stage ensured that pupils had a clear understanding of success criteria for their tasks. The ethos and life of this Kampala school was overwhelmingly positive and affirmative and achievement and learning was truly and enthusiastically celebrated. Click here to view a page of teacher planning Uganda style, and click on the pictures at the start of this post to see short video clips taken by Sarah during her visit.

Innovation in moderation in Falkirk Schools

Carol Paton, Curriculum Support Officer offered all establishments the opportunity to access some additional funding to support innovative practices in moderation. In January this year, 3 Primary Schools, 3 Secondary Schools, 2 Clusters and 1 Special School successfully bid for funding. This innovative work allowed teachers to think differently about moderation. Projects focussed on moderation through teacher discussion and collegiate approaches at the planning stage; the use of visualisers to develop consistent approaches to the teaching and application of numeracy skills across learning. The development of agreed success criteria at the planning stage also featured – most  interestingly in a PE – English collaborative project.

For more information on some of these projects use the links below.

Graeme High School – Numeracy across learning using visualisers Graeme High School – moderation report ( Numeracy)

Graeme High School – Presentation skillsGraeme High School – literacy ( Presentations)

Larbert High School – Numeracy PassportsLarbert High School Approaches to assessment and moderation 2012 Report master

St. Andrew’s Primary – a new approach to planning in  ScienceSt Andrew’s Primary – report

St. Mungo’s cluster – starting to think about mental agility across the clusterApproaches to assessment and moderation feedback June 2013

Assessment Guidance 2013- 2016 goes live!

Assessment guidance 2013 -2016 Carol Paton Curriculum Support Officer in the Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support Team has produced guidance to support Early Years Practitioners, Teachers and Headteachers as they develop approaches to assessment in the broad,general education.  The guidance has been produced in collaboration with staff from a range of establishments. The guidance contains links to a range of support materials for staff.

Creative Conversation with Paul Collard

Gayle Martin, Arts & Culture Offiicer, Curriculum Support Falkirk Council Education has been working in partnership with Clare Hoare at Stirling Council to develop Creative Conversations.  The lastest event was led by Paul Collard.  Paul has over 25 years experience of working in the arts and is an expert in delivering programmes that use creativity and culture as drivers of social and economic change. He joined the U.K government’s flagship creative learning programme, Creative Partnerships in January 2005 and played a crucial role in clarifying the purpose of Creative Partnerships and streamlining the delivery of the programme in schools.  Paul delivered our latest Creative Conversation ‘How do we Capture & Measure Creativity’ on Wed 17th April at the Tollbooth. 

Throughout the session Paul discussed how to identify and recognise creativity in order to measure.  As part of the Creative Partnerships work in England Cambridge University carried out research examining the pedagogy of creative practice, as part of this they outlined the following:

Pupils need risk for motivation – this gives learners incentive to work. Schools can be too low risk – pupils need high visibility outcomes.  High functioning pupils will be physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually engaged equalling high performance pupils.  

 Other Creative indicators are:

Essential Psychological Needs

Key Ingredients

Defining Creativity

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

Supporting Assessment for Learning with Smart Response tools

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support team, provided a hands-on continuing professional development session for staff at St Bernadette’s Primary School on the use of Smart Response tools to support Assessment for Learning.

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.

Putting it on Record

Stuart Lennie, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in the Curriculum Support Team of Falkirk Council Education Services, is supporting the introduction of YouTube access for pupils in Falkirk Council classrooms.

YouTube is an online video streaming website that can provide useful knowledge and education content for all stages in schools and nurseries. In addition, users can create content and upload it to the site in order to store it or share knowledge or learning with others.

YouTube has been open to staff in Falkirk Council for many years and has proven to be a vital tool in terms of classroom practice and staff development. It is regularly the top visited site in education establishments and staff now integrate the content into their lesson plans and activities.

Currently, all pupils are blocked from access to the YouTube site, plus any embedded YouTube content in other websites, in Falkirk schools. This decision was taken based on two main factors:

  • The limited bandwidth available to our schools and the demands upon it.
  • The proportion of content deemed unsuitable by staff.

Recent developments in bandwidth improvements and safety filters put us in a position where these two factors no longer apply.

To facilitate such change, a Technologies in the Classroom group has been formed, made up of classroom practitioners from all stages of education in Falkirk Council. This group will have the mandate to call upon advice from appropriate groups of additional individuals including pupils, parents, and partners.

The immediate tasks for this group will be to:

  • Create support materials for staff and pupils
  • Develop methods to educate staff, pupils, and parents on the safe filtering features in Social Media sites and to ensure acceptable use in line with the Acceptable Use Policy and schools’ positive behaviour policies
  • Pilot pupil access with schools
  • Work to gather and analyse evidence of how YouTube is enhancing learning through previously unavailable delivery methods such as Flipped Learning models which enables pupils to bring to the classroom project work and studies undertaken outwith the school.

Here is an example of one of the support videos for teachers, hosted on YouTube:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/tkMPZuNFNBs" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]

In addition, education establishments will be set up with individual YouTube channels to act as an official public repository of content for their establishment.

A coffee, a croissant and a controversy!

Carol Paton, Curriculum Support Officer Secondary, Falkirk Council Education Services Curriculum Support Team recently led a session on the Glasgow University Research Paper  ‘Assessment at Transition’.  Sixteen Headteachers and Deputes from across Falkirk explored together some of the key challenges from this research paper around the purposes and potential of assessement at transition. Together they examined their current transition programmes in respect of planning, pedagogy, progress and standards. They challenged each others’ thinking and took inspiration from some of the transformational practice described.

Participants said: