Tag Archives: active learning

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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Bo’ness Primary Schools work on Kinneil Museum Project

Yvonne McBlain, Curriculum Support teacher with Falkirk Council Education Services has helped to co-ordinate partnership work between Bo’ness primary schools and Falkirk Community Trust. The Trust has appointed Hanneke Scott van Wel and Lindsay Lennie to take forward their Kinneil Museum Engagement for the Future Project. On March 25th, Lindsay and Hanneke began working with primary 5, 6 and 7 pupils from each Bo’ness primary school to explore their links with their local heritage. The learning experience involved studying a range of old maps of Bo’ness and opened pupils’ eyes to the many changes which have taken place in their landscape over the last 400 years!

Observations from Kinneil PS p6/5 pupils included:

 “We’ve found out that Bo’ness was called something different long ago.”

“We can find Kinneil School in this one (map) and can’t in the other one.”

“They(person who made the map)  haven’t got the two potteries and they don’t have the gas works…we found a football ground but they didn’t have it.”

The pupils had brought in a picture or object from home and were asked to consider whether it connected to the places they had identified on the maps. One group said: “We found the town hall ‘cos that’s where the Fair takes place.”

Hanneke and Lindsay will ensure that each class taking part in the project has these learning experiences to prepare them for a whole cluster working day on 20th May in Bo’ness Town Hall. On that day each class from each school, will contribute/pool their expertise on their specialist aspect of Bo’ness history, and use this to co-create a historical timeline of their town. This process and its end product will form the pupils’ contribution to the wider community consultation taking place in order to ensure that the new museum displays reflect a true picture of the interests and experiences of the community they are designed for.

Deanburn Nursery Jack Frost Storyline

Yvonne McBlain from Falkirk Education Services curriculum support team is working with the nursery team at Deanburn Primary School on a Jack Frost storyline. Caroline McKay, principal teacher, and Karen Stewart, Senior Early Year’s Officer wanted to explore how the storyline approach could help their children learn about winter in a creative way. The whole nursery team were keen to explore new ways to fit in all of the essentials of planning, assessment, observation and recording of pupil progress.  For the last two weeks Yvonne has supported the team in the nursery for one half day per week. The team have then developed, observed and responded to the children’s interests over the rest of the week in order to evaluate impact on learning and develop next steps. For more information about what has been done so far, click on the documents below.

Click here to see the planned learning for 20.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 27.1.14

Click here to see the planned learning for 3.2.14

These simple plans are put into the large-scale floor books where the team are recording how the children use the Jack Frost character to develop their understanding of winter. This story  started the storyline off, and the team intend to use Twitter as one of their ways  to involve parents in the learning.

BBC goes to Bonnybridge Primary School

Yvonne McBlain from Falkirk Council Education Service Support and Improvement team heard an item about Bonnybridge PS on Radio  Scotland on Tuesday 21st January 2014.  She was delighted to hear about P.6/7 from Bonnybridge Primary and their work with the BBC Commonwealth Class project. Michelle Cairns and her class worked on their debating skills and learned about issues and topics affecting countries within the Commonwealth.

The debates were fun and interactive and allowed the children to voice their opinions and thoughts appropriately. The project gave the pupils a fantastic platform for learning about tolerance, equality and working together in a real life context which will be valuable lifelong. Being part of this learning has had a huge impact on the children involved. The BBC contacted the class following their participation in previous debates, asking if they were happy to be filmed debating “in action” for the BBC.

The motion for the filmed debate was  homelessness in Commonwealth countries and how this related to the Commonwealth games. The children took part in a Skype call with a school in India in which they were able to ask questions and interact with another Commonwealth country. This experience enabled the children to see themselves as a part of the wider world and to really think about how they can contribute as global citizens. Click here to link to the television broadcast in BBC  Iplayer, here for the Good Morning Scotland radio piece, and have a look at the written piece here on the BBC website.

This interdisciplinary learning experience offered the children an opportunity to apply their debating, talking and listening skills within the Commonwealth context. It also offered them a valuable opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills through partnership working with the BBC. Isn’t it great to see Falkirk schools featuring so prominently in the media!

Interactive tools for teaching primary numeracy and maths at second level

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer in the Curriculum Support team of Falkirk Council Education Services, presented a session to teaching staff giving a hands-on opportunity to explore a range of interactive software and online tools to support teaching numeracy and maths at second level.

Resources explored in this session included:

RoamerWorld – a simulated programmable on-screen robot. It is a graphical version of Logo. It provides concrete implementation of shape, position and movement abstract concepts. It has 16 in-built curricular-related activities.

Number Magic – spreadsheets to help with a series of calculations that need to be repeated often. Once they are set up they can be used to explore the effect of changing one number on the others. The data can also be displayed very easily as a graph or chart. Number Magic has a number of in-built curricular examples – in Blue level exercises folder.

National Numeracy Strategy Resources – Interactive flash resources to support mathematics available on every Falkirk primary school network PC in shared documents. Each has an associated set of instructions. These Flash files can be dragged into an open SMART Notebook page (or just used in an Internet browser). These included tell-the-time, thermometer, shape-sorting, symmetry, fractions and angle resources.

SMART Notebook resources – there are many tools and mathematics-specific resources in the SMART Notebook Gallery Essentials for Educators, and there is a huge number of pre-created SMART Notebook resources in the shared documents folders of every Falkirk primary networked PC.

Manga High – free online games-based maths teaching resource aimed at 7-16 year-olds. This combines development of maths skills with video game format games. The teacher selects specific maths/numeracy areas and level within the Curriculum for Excellence which assigns pupils teaching activities and game. The teacher can get reports on progress of individual pupils.

Other online resources included:

Primary Games Arena – a wide range of free online games matched to developing different numeracy and mathematics skills. 

Math is Fun – inlcudes games and a dictionary of mathematcis concepts for pupils.

Maths in the City – providing ideas for taking learning in mathematics and numeracy outside

Sumdog  – numeracy actvities where pupils can compete with others in a safe environment

Wolfram Alpha – described as a computational search engine!

Active Numeracy

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer, Curriculum Support Team for Falkirk Council has delivered a lecture to 91 second and third year ITE students at Stirling University entitled ‘Active Approaches to Numeracy’.

The aim of the session was to provide an overview of how Falkirk establishments are using active methodologies to increase attainment in mental mathematics.

Sharon explained that numeracy is a skill for life, learning and work. It is not just a subset of mathematics, it is also a life skill which permeates and supports all areas of learning. (Maths and Numeracy Principles and Practices paper).

Sharon asked the students to make a list of all the numbers they had encountered on their way to Stirling Uni that morning and the students surprised themselves at how many numbers there are in society. Answers included: car number plates, alarm clocks, measures on their breakfast cereal/ milk, house numbers, cash line etc.

After giving the ITE students a short mental maths ‘quiz’, Sharon encouraged the students to share the strategies they used to calculate the answers. One question was ‘If a loaf of bread is £1.19, how much would four loaves cost?’ There were a range of strategies used and discussed.

Sharon then shared the ‘Every day’s a learning day’ numeracy video which is available on Falkirk Council’s you tube channel.

The session went on to look at ways in which pupils can benefit from more active approaches to numeracy with examples.

Sharon also provided the students with examples of how asking effective questions can gain a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

The students had to devise their own numeracy problems for a class they are currently supporting using just the answer as a starting point. There were a wide variety of questions devised which stimulated lots of thought and discussions.

Sharon then went onto ask the students to consider how they can create effective maths environments looking at inside and outside spaces.

The final part of the course looked at a variety of different numeracy websites available to enhance and increase knowledge and understanding of mental maths.

Exciting CPD from new partnership!

Yvonne McBlain from Falkirk Curriculum Support Team met with Ray McFadyen, Education Officer from the Museum of Scottish Railways on 12th November. Ray shared the new museum education support pack (click to view) which he has just completed, and described the themed artefact handling boxes he has created (click to view).  Yvonne and Ray talked about the range of steam and diesel-driven machinery and artefacts which could stimulate ideas for teachers of technology. Consequently, they will collaborate to create and organise a CPD Manager course offering secondary DET teachers the opportunity to visit the museum collection after hours. A visit to the museum and railway station next to Bo’ness harbour offers a whole range of creative teaching possibilities (click to explore how a visit could look). Yvonne and Ray will work with Sharon Wallace, Primary Curriculum Support Officer to plan and deliver an innovative series of CPD sessions which will include a site visit. These sessions will allow teachers to explore how the museum collection and location could be used to progress literacy skills across learning, in an active, engaging and creative way – within and outwith the classroom! Keep your eye on CPD Manager – we hope to upload these descriptors soon.

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