Yvonne Manning , Principal Librarian, Service and School Improvement Team of Falkirk Council Education Service attended Larbert High School’s first Spelling Bee. It was an excellent event with pupils from S2 who overcame their nerves to stand on the stage in front of their peers and pupils from Kinnaird PS and Stenhousemuir PS to show their excellence in spelling. Award winning author Nicola Morgan, Larbert High School’s Patron of Reading, was there and her main message to us was that reading for enjoyment helps the brain to perform better! Nicola also presented prizes to the pupils.
This year there was an international dimension to the Book Award with young people from Nairobi (International School of Kenya and Mathare North Library) shadowing the award. It was very successful and they have renamed their book group The RED Book Club!
250 pupils from the secondary schools in Falkirk Council participated in the Book Award reading, enjoying and debating the shortlisted books. Along with the Kenyan young people, they voted in December for their favourite book and planned a creative interpretation of one of the books to be performed at the award ceremony.
The Award ceremony had a wonderful atmosphere thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of the young people. The performances showcased the creativity and confidence of the young people. We particularly enjoyed the performances from Nairobi sent to us electronically. At the ceremony the radio broadcast team from St Mungo’s High School recorded interviews, pupil journalists from Graeme and Larbert High Schools wrote a news report which will appear in The Falkirk Council News, a film team from Braes High School filmed the event and a pupil from Falkirk High School, interested in photography, shadowed the council photographer.
Feedback from the some of the authors:
“Thank you so much for everything this week. I had the best time at the RED book awards. I think having the colour red as part of things added such a fun element to the day. I really enjoyed myself, and was amazed at how good the presentations by the schools were. ” Teri Terry
“Could I just say a big thank you, on behalf of David and myself, for the hospitality shown to us during our time in Falkirk. We enjoyed our visit to Scotland so much and are looking forward to returning when we have more time. Some of our favourite moments were seeing the children act out parts of the shortlisted books – especially Torn of course!” David Massey
Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Curriculum Support Team has hosted three Active Literacy Networking sessions this week at Camelon Education Centre. Colleagues participated in Early, First and Second level network meetings with a focus on sharing good practice and professional discussion around literacy.
Colleagues from a number of Falkirk Council establishments participated in a range of activities including: updates, Using Smart Notebook Toolkit 2.0 and sharing good practice. Sharon was delighted to hear all the good practice and good news stories happening. It is really encouraging to hear how confident pupils are using the six key comprehension strategies in reading and how much pupils are enjoying learning new strategies to help with their common/ tricky words.
Teachers were provided with an update of all things new in the world of literacy including:
- The Literacy Strategy
- Every Day’s a Learning Day
- The Daily What (Bothkennar’s article)
- Courses delivered this term including Using Twixter and Fakebook
- The Thinking Reader approach
- Using Blooms fans and comprehension skills triangles
Sharon demonstrated how Smart Notebook Toolkit 2.0 can be used to create effective learning experiences for spellings and phonics. Colleagues then produced their own Active Literacy games using anagram, keyword, multiple choice, sentence arrange, vortex sort, word biz and word guess.
Sharon then invited colleagues to share examples of good practice and these included:
- Bainsford Primary teachers Emma Cuthbert and Claire Morrison shared some fabulous evidence of literacy using the outdoor environment and also how they have been engaging with parents and consolidating phoneme work. They also recommended the use of online support materials such as Geraldine the Giraffe!
- Helen McNeill from Whitecross Primary shared some fabulous task cards she has produced to enable her learners to be independent in their Active Literacy activities.
- Laura Cotton, a probationer from Bo’ness Public has produced her own materials using Toolkit 2.0 and she shared her lesson on the phoneme ‘ee’
Some colleagues were unable to attend, but still shared their good practice and these included:
- Andrew Watson, DHT from Bonnybridge Primary kindly shared his reading planner for ‘The Wreck of the Zanzibar’
- Carol from Laurieston shared her Reading toolkit for second level
- Alison Marshall from Drumbowie shared her reading planner for Carrie’s War
Suggestions for the theme for the next round of network meetings included – more ideas using Toolkit 2.0 and reading. The Daily What and Film Club have offered to attend our network meetings to share what they can do to support schools too.
Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer, and Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer, in the Curriculum Support team of Falkirk Council Education Services, presented a professional development course for school staff on Active Literacy at second level using podcasting to develop talking and listening, reading and writing skills. This is part of a series of three courses examining how literacy skills can be developed using ICT. Other courses in this series are: ‘Using fakebook, twister and email to develop summarising skills’ and ‘Using animation tools to support writing skills’.
Section three of the reading for second level Active Literacy programme is ‘Using media to develop higher order literacy’ and this course is part of a series of CPD opportunities for teachers at this level. Other courses in this series are: Using fakebook, twister and email to develop summarising skills and using animation tools to develop literacy skills.
The course looked at ways in which using ICT as a tool facilitates, supports and develops confident and accurate literacy to add value to all aspects of Literacy Across Learning. It explored ways teachers can plan for opportunities to use digital technologies to enhance and contribute to overall meaning, communication and understanding of texts. It examined ways in which talking and listening, reading and writing skills can be developed using podcasting.
What is podcasting?
•A podcast is a digital audio and/ or video site that can be accessed using any computer that can play media files using recording software such as audacity
•Podcasting involves pupils in recording and broadcasting
•Broadcasting allows pupils to listen, watch, discuss and analyse the content of the material.
Listen to the audio links below to hear the different verses of a poem, as an example of how audio files can be shared on a class blog.
Participants on the course were all very positive stating they were going to use ideas gained at the session immediately.
Free Audacity software for creating and editing audio
Audacity is free software to download which lets users record and edit audio in order to create mp3 files for use on websites, blogs, podcasts or anywhere online. Audacity lets users combine multiple tracks (to include music, sound efftecs and voices) and to add shorter sound segments together to create longer audio files. Audacity also lets users edit out unwanted sounds, re-order a sequence of sounds, add a whole host of effects to sound (including changing pitch, adding echo, and much more). Click here for more information about Audacity (including resources showing how to use it).
Royalty-free sound-effects and music for adding to podcasts
Schools are often looking for royalty-free sound-effects and music for multimedia presentations – music or sound effects which pupils and staff can use in their podcasts (or videos, stop-motion animations, online or Powerpoint presentations). And of course they wish to ensure that they are not infringing the rights of others so look for free sources of music and sound effects where permission to use for school projects has been granted by the creators. Click here for sources of royalty-free music and sound-effects free to use in school podcasts.
Alternative online tools for hosting audio files/podcasting
There are online spaces specifically set up for hosting podcasting, some of which are specifcally suitable for school use. So while school websites and class blogs can easily host audio files you may wish to consider using a tools specifically set up for podcasting hosting and sharing. Click here for links to some of these online podcasting tools.
Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Curriculum Support Team has carried out Active Literacy training over the past two weeks with 54 teachers. The two three hour sessions examined the writing programme incorporating spelling and the reading programme.
Session one looked at how teachers can support pupils in becoming independent spellers. Pupils are taught strategies to use their previously learned knowledge of phonemes and spelling rules to more complex, polysyllabic words.
The course examined the programme for spelling strategy work, alongside the new addition of ‘vocabulary building’, homophones and common confusions. Trials of the programme so far indicate that pupils are really enjoying the investigation element of prefixes and suffixes and how these affect the meaning of words.
The session also examined the writing genres covered at second level looking at incorporating writing trios, chunking, use of genre success criteria and next steps.
Session two focused on the development of the six key comprehension strategies across a range of texts. These strategies are:
1. Prior knowledge and prediction
5. Main ideas
6. Summarising and paraphrasing.
Sharon demonstrated how to develop these skills using a traditional ‘novel’ text, moving image (film trailer) and a poem. The course also looked at using online tools such as Powtoon, go animate and twixster to develop reading skills.
Colleagues were given a ‘Stories Allways’ resource containing a range of Scottish myths and legends as well as two CDs. This is a great resource as it provides pupils with a range of challenging questions, tasks and a synopsis of each tale.
Colleagues enthusiastically participated in a range of Active Literacy activities across the course of the two sessions and feedback so far has been really positive.
“The course was delivered extremely well by Sharon Wallace and the resources provided were very useful.”
“The course was presented over 2 days in which it provided an overview of the key methodologies and strategies as outlined in North Lanarkshire’s Active Literacy 6/7 programme. I thought all aspects of the course were useful and it enhanced my knowledge and understanding of the 6/7 programme which I will now be able to confidently implement in the classroom.”
“I am new to teaching as well as the Active Literacy programme. I had very little knowledge and understanding prior to the course however I now feel I can confidently implement active literacy in the classroom.”
“Sharon is a very enthusiastic presenter and it is clear that she wholly believes in the Active Literacy Programme. Her passionate delivery and ideas instil in you, the confidence to have a go in your own classroom.”
These short video sessions are aimed at Second level, however some of the materials can be adapted and applied to earlier stages.
Sharon has recorded nine short videos for ‘Reading’ including using film trailers, critical analysis, non-fiction analysis and moving image education. There are two sessions relating to spelling and these include the new spelling section and vocabulary building which explores homophones and affixes. There is one training session called ‘Developing Writing at Second Level’ and this looks at incorporating a range of different genres, as well as the use of mixed ability writing trios and effective conferencing to improve writing skills.
These short animation videos are part of a series of CPD online sessions which range from P1 to S1.
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Sharon started this project off by talking to pupils fro P5, P6 and P7 at Stenhousemuir and Laurieston Primary Schools. Here is a collection of their thoughts:
The pupils then went on to explore a wide range of grammar resources which included: books, games, websites, grammar literacy maps, CD containing grammar songs and grammar dictionaries.
They really enjoyed the grammar games and websites and thought they would be most effective to support with their learning of grammar.
The pupils were really enthusiastic about the resources and developing a blog to support other learners.
Here are a few of the websites we looked at:
Watch this space for further developments! Thanks to the pupils from Stenhousemuir and Laurieston for their active involvement in this exciting project!
The recently published Active Literacy pack takes the Active Literacy programme into S1 and Sharon is currently team teaching with John Doherty at Larbert High School and an S1 class, and soon Graeme High School, also with an S1 class on higher order reading skills.
The P4/5 Active Literacy pack develops the higher order skills introduced at P1-3 and the P6/7/S1 pack takes these skills even further.
The S1 classes are developing the six key reading comprehension skills using the Alfred Noyes poem ‘The Highwayman’ as a ‘text’.
The initial lesson looked at Strategy 1 – prior knowledge of ‘highwaymen’ and this period in time, followed by Strategy 2 – using ‘metalinguistics’ – picking out key phrases/ interesting vocabulary. The pupils then used Strategy 3 – using visualisers to produce a mind-map which incorporated the main themes of a non-fiction text about ‘Highwaymen’.
This is a very exciting project taking the Active Literacy programme into S1 and the skills even further into real life.
The second lesson in this series was really successful and examined comprehension strategies 3 (using visualisers), 4 (inference), 5 (main ideas) and 6 (paraphrasing). In a very short timescale, S1 pupils from Larbert High were able to produce visualisers to summarise the main ideas of two stanzas from the poem. Working in cooperative groups on two different stanzas each, the pupils were able to cover the entire poem. They then went onto producing a summary/ paraphrase of those two stanzas using only 140 characters and published these live on twitter.
Some of the tweets included:
‘The highwayman knocks on the window of the inn and finds Bess #younglove x’
‘The Highwayman is a structured poem which has good describing words #shotottheface‘
‘The highwayman rides to the inn. Sings a song to the girl. Redcoats make her shoot herself. #death‘
Yvonne Manning, Principal Librarian, Curriculum Support Team, Falkirk Council Education Services organised a project with looked after and accommodated young people who worked with storytellers and an animator to create a film. The project was funded by Awards for All and is an example of very effective partnership work between Education, Social Work, Lisa Kapur Forde (Arts Development Officer, Falkirk Community Trust), storytellers – Ruth Kirkpatrick and Claire McNicol, musicians and Wrighteye film makers. The launch of the film took place in Falkirk Town Hall on 22/3/13. It was a wonderful occasion to celebrate the achievements of the young people. The storytellers and the young people told the story that they had created and then the film was shown. The film shows the group in Meadowbank Library working together on the story, making the characters, shooting the scenes and then viewing the animation of the story. The song that accompanies the story was written and sung by one of the young people. The film can be viewed by clicking this link – Tear Drops on the Wings
Feedback after the launch was exceptional, here is just a snapshot of what people said:
‘What a fantastic and moving film. The music was wonderful and fitted perfectly with the story and the animation. I was blown away by the whole event and by the talent and ability of the young people. Thank you.’ Chief Governance Officer, Falkirk Council.
‘This has by far the best thing that’s happened for me for ages, thanks for sharing your work, talent and experiences. I would be delighted if you would be prepared to show the film and tell the story at the Falkirk Parents and Families Workshop on 9th October 2013. I think you could inspire so many more people there!, Thank you!!’ Co-ordinator, Children’s Services, Falkirk Council.
‘Incredible! I was unbelievably impressed with the quality of the film. Thank you so much for giving us the chance to see it. You are all brilliant. Well done!!’ Clinical Psychologist.
‘Well done all involved. A brilliant team effort. Hope to see your film again soon. Thank you so much!’ Child Health Commissioner, N.H.S. Forth Valley.
‘Excellent show, the young people have shown how much talent they have. Through this film they have hopefully addressed some issues they have, they worked very well together, social skills proven, feelings revealed etc. Well done to everyone who encouraged and taught, helped make this film. What next for these young people, they need to get to the next stop. BRAVO!!’ A Grandmother
‘… Wow! Wonderful achievement to everyone who participated in the movie. It was a lovely story well written. The film makers were great and the music was showstopping! Simply stunning! Wonderful music. To all of you, I wish you every success in the future. Keep working hard; Keep positive: Keep doing good work and Thank You I loved it.’ Councillor, Falkirk Council.
And what next?
To nominate the film for an Award.
The young people will tell their story and show the film at a Parent and Families Workshop event in Falkirk Council in October 2013.
CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland) are very interested in showcasing the film at their annual conference in October 2013.
Education Scotland are very interested in sharing the project as an example of good practice.
A connection has been established between the Homes and Meadowbank Library. The young people all received a library membership card and borrowed books from the library. The plans to reinforce this connection include a trip to the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August; library staff will visit the Homes in advance of the trip to read ‘tasters’ from the books by the author(s) with whom the young people will meet.
At least two of the young people have been offered opportunities to further explore their musical interest and talent from the musicians and producer involved in the project.
The young people who were involved in this project wanted it to continue and other young people are now very keen to be involved in a similiar project. With this in mind, Yvonne Manning, Lisa Kapur Forde and Jenny Kane (Leaving Care Service) are looking at other potential funding sources and build on the success.