Tag Archives: creative learning

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.

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.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Whitecross PS

IMG_4653Whitecross Primary School celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The actual date is 5th December, but pupils, staff and parents are preparing to create a very special memento of the occasion.

Claire Quigley, head teacher at Whitecross PS , is collaborating with colleagues in Graeme HS and Camelon Education Centre to create a permanent clay tile installation for the foyer of the school. They are solving practical problems like how to get 250 plus tiles made and fired! But they are also building effective links between schools and their communities, as well as individual pupils. This all contributes to the life and ethos of both schools and the wider experiences of pupils. All of this is in addition to the art and design skills being developed by pupils.

Henry Meldrum, art and design teacher at Graeme High School saw an opportunity for his S2 class to support groups of Whitecross pupils in their creation of terracotta clay tiles for the installation. Each pupil will make at least one tile which shares their interpretation of their local area. On Friday 11th September, the first group of 12 primary 6-7 pupils from Mrs McNeill’s class in Whitecross PS visited Graeme HS to make their tiles.

IMG_4651After watching Mr Meldrum’s demonstration of clay techniques, the S2 pupils advised the primary pupils on how best to create their tile. They offered practical advice on techniques, and artistic advice on how the tile looked.

Daniel in S2 acted as photographer and Yvonne McBlain gathered the thoughts of the pupils involved:

Connor “I’m enjoying being in the high school, and I like using the clay. Also having a nice person to help me do shapes and have ideas about different things.

Abbie “It was very good that we had people to help us”

Thomas “I did it myself with no help!”

S2 also valued the experience:

Demi ” I’m enjoying working with the clay and the kids. It’s helping me knowing and understanding the clay…cos we’ve never used it in second year before.”

William “It’s fine – fun. Not helping me, but helping him”

Aimee ” I think it’s good because our class was chosen to help with this. It’s something different and it’ll give us an experience in working with younger ones.”

IMG_4654 Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support teacher, will lead a practical workshop with staff and parents on 30th September, to support them in making sure that everyone in Whitecross School, and its local area can create a tile for the installation.

On 2nd December, the school will be hosting an open afternoon and evening when pupils will be able to use new skills gained from their visits to Graeme HS art department to “teach” their parents, friends, former pupils, and wider community how to make their tile.

A date for the grand opening will be decided once everyone who wishes to be involved in the 60th birthday celebration has had the chance to contribute.

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Teaching and Learning linked to World War I

ww1-1 Teachers, early years officers, and pupils across Falkirk Children’s Services may be linking their learning at some point this year to the commemoration and centenary of World War 1. Education Scotland have published an update (click to view) with links to teaching and learning resources which might prove useful. Click here to visit Education Scotland “WWI in Scotland” blog where there are lots more valuable materials. In addition, by clicking here, you can access the Scottish Government’s WW1 Commemoration Panel which has a huge variety of links to very current events, information and media.

The picture above was taken from the collection housed in Falkirk Community Trust Archives based in Callendar House. Click this link to visit the Heritage – World War 1 section of the Trust website, and explore sources which provide a more local dimension. This includes the Laurieston School Album, and information about the Quintinshill Railway Disaster.

Please contact Yvonne McBlain yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk  if you would like to share your WWI Commemorative teaching and learning via this blog.

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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Developing pupil understanding of the curriculum

Yvonne McBlain, from Falkirk Education Service Support and Improvement team has been exploring pupil understanding of the curriculum with colleagues in St Bernadette’s RC PS and Bankier PS. Click here to see the Bankier version of the learning experience shared with pupils on 13th June 2014, and here to see Yvonne’s analysis of the impact gained.

Maria McNally and her primary 6/7 pupils were the first to trial this experience earlier this session – click here to read Yvonne’s evaluation of these. Pupils were able to explain things they understood, and how they had come to understand these things. They were offered an opportunity to explore how they reached this understanding so that they could apply successful approaches for new learning too.

 The whole set of experiences is designed to:

  1. Help pupils learn the difference between knowing about something, and really understanding it.
  2. Let pupils discover how they reach deep understanding – what works for them (based on David Perkins & Harvard/Tapestry Teaching for Understanding programme)
  3. Help pupils review their own understanding so far and how it helps them build a good life
  4. Ensure that pupils know what the curriculum is and how curriculum for excellence and the four capacities relate to their lives present and future (helps with pupil profiling too)
  5. Help pupils see how they apply their understanding in different contexts
  6. Enable pupils to see the natural connections and overlaps between curriculum subject areas
  7. Let pupils see how their school learning articulates with wider achievement
  8. Develop pupils as independent learners

Yvonne will continue to trial and develop this set of learning experiences to complement the methods other Falkirk schools are using to enable their pupils to build independent learning capabilities. Click here to see some pupil understanding charts made during the lessons, and see how pupils connected their understanding across curriculum subjects below. Yvonne would be happy to hear from any teachers wanting to be involved in exploring this further. yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk