Tag Archives: curriculum for excellence

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

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!

New Interdisciplinary Learning Blog!

Yvonne McBlain and Malcolm Wilson of Falkirk Council Service and School Improvement Team have created a new interdisciplinary learning blog. Yvonne will develop and maintain this blog as a major element of support for IDL across Falkirk Council education establishments.  She is working hard to fill the blog with useful material and valuable IDL practice. Click here to visit, and contact yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk if you have suggestions, ideas or  interdisciplinary learning practice to share.

Coffee, croissant, controversy Planning Meetings

Yvonne McBlain and Karen Thomson of Falkirk curriculum support team facilitated two lively sessions recently with principal teachers, depute and head teachers. The initial session explored how our establishments were including each element of the NAR planning flow chart in their planning processes. Discussion focused on the numbers of layers of planning being used, and how this was contributing to the improvement of teaching and learning. Participants requested a second session to enable them to bring along and share their planning layers and documentation.

So, on 10th December Julie McKenna shared how Airth Primary are using a digital tool to manage their planning. Staff use this system to create discrete and interdisciplinary units of work in the form of planning wheels with skills and other information noted. They are able to track both the depth and coverage of experiences and outcomes and the progression of skills. At Airth PS, all staff collaborate to create the annual long term plan, and their planning wheels form the rest of their planning structure, with any other detail being recorded in the weekly plans. Julie and her staff now intend to develop how they integrate their  assessment and recording into their planning. 

 Jill Stocks and Andrew Watson from Bonnybridge Primary shared how they use the Learning Unlimited tool “Realistic Record Keeping and Powerful Planning”. Bonnybridge PS staff work from the experiences and outcomes to create annual master plans for literacy, numeracy, and non core learning. Further detailed planning takes place in weekly plans, meaning that the school has two layers of planning. You can click here to see a collection of the master plans for second level. Staff are also using maths pathways to support their planning of progression in specific numeracy skills – click here to view. Jill and Andrew now intend to develop their tracking of coverage and depth of learning within the E & Os. They value the way this planning tool has enabled a significant shift away from a resource-led approach to planning, increased focus on the principles of curriculum design, and a reduction of paperwork for planning. Early years senior managers also shared their development of floor books as their main planning layer  in nursery settings. They value the way floor book planning makes visible the relevance, personalisation and choice and progression of learning for pre and ante-pre school children. It was noted that not all practitioners are comfortable yet with not having additional layers of planning and documentation.

The rest of the meeting consisted of really valuable discussion of how to effectively integrate assessment, manage tracking and monitoring, and how to enhance awareness of when each of the four contexts for learning is being addressed. Click here to see the power point presentation for this second meeting.

New Higher Order Skills CPD

Yvonne McBlain, support teacher with Falkirk Council Curriculum Support Team delivered some new professional learning around the Higher Order Skills on 7th November. Click here to take a look at this session and contact Yvonne on yvonne.mcblain@falkirk.gov.uk for more detail about this course.

Feedback from participants in the course was very positive on the whole, and impact reported included:

I will continue to use the HOTS within the classroom and embed this within planning.

I will use the skills matching exercise as part of a professional discussion surrounding skills for learning which will take place within my establishment.

A greater understanding of the Higher Order skills and examples of how they can be used in practice.

A number of delegates suggested that the course was very comprehensive and would benefit from being run over two sessions and/or repeated, and Yvonne will be addressing this feedback.