On 23rd March, staff and pupils at St Francis Xavier RC PS welcomed parents, guests and members of the community into their school to share their interdisciplinary learning. Yvonne McBlain of Falkirk Council curriculum support team did her best to visit each classroom to capture a flavour of the learning which had taken place. The afternoon was a real success with a strong turnout of visitors leaving very positive feedback.
Primary 1 & 1/2 classes had studied the film Monsters Inc to develop their ability to interpret digital text. Their teacher employed a storyline approach to guide their learning using the character of Boo. The class explored pattern and shape in a range of ways and worked with a parent who was an interior designer. They created a new room for Boo, complete with a new bed. Tegan enjoyed “when we made the pipes…because we got to paint them and put glitter on them”. Pupil learning linked experiences & outcomes in literacy, science and ICT.
Primary 2 used the story of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to develop their understanding of the design process. On the open day the children in each class experienced a rotation of tasks which their parents & guests could join in with. One of the tasks was making real chocolate crispy cakes. Every classroom visited had great examples of rich task homework which pupils had self-selected.
Primary 3 studied Ancient Egypt and most were dressed as Egyptians. Ahmad said “My favourite bit was doing my name in hieroglyphics.”
In primary 4 Isla was an expert guide and explained the moon missions, alien creation and outdoor survival skills developed during their Space topic. She “enjoyed learning how the rockets work.”
Primary 5 pupils had studied the rainforest and linked learning in science, social studies, and developed their research and literacy skills. Primary 6 classrooms had gone all French and one even had a very large model of the Eiffel Tower in the centre of the room.
Primary 7 had been working on a SCIAF project to develop their understanding of sustainability and global citizenship.
Staff across all stages had obviously planned thier interdisciplinary learning in a creative and collegiate way. They have impacted positively on their pupils’ engagement in and enjoyment of learning, and employed a range of approaches to “enrich” the curriculum for their pupils.
Fourteen Falkirk teachers are currently putting their Global Storyline training into practice by delivering their Giant of Thistle Mountain storyline. This training was delivered by colleagues from WOSDEC (get more info at www.globalstoryline.org.uk ), and will run this session and next. Diana Ellis, Marie-Jeanne McNaughton and Lynn Baxendale from WOSDEC, and Yvonne McBlain, curriculum support teacher with Falkirk Education Services, caught up with our teachers on Wednesday 12th February, to find out how the storylines were developing. The teachers shared where they had reached in the storyline plan, and described the impact it was having on their pupils. Gemma Douglas at Kinnaird is delivering her storyline with her own class, and supporting primary 1 & 2 colleagues so that they can take part in the storyline too – it’s going really well and having very specific impact on the skills of certain pupils. Jenny Deacon at Carron PS is finding that her pupils have “totally embraced” the storyline and are demonstrating very sophisticated levels of thinking (click here to see some of Jenny’s documentation). Angelique Watt, and Emma-Jame Williamson are adapting the storyline for their enhanced provision pupils at Larbert Village PS, who are engaging really well with the characters and progressing their social skills too. Holly Keenan at Bonnybridge PS has used the storyline to develop her primary 2 pupils’ understanding that it is people who make a community. Jennifer Main at Wallacestone PS can already see how her pupils are applying and developing their awareness of rights and responsibilities through the storyline, and Liz Stephen and Laura Beattie are finding that their pupils are better at co-operating while in role during the storyline at Deanburn PS. Click here to see a photo of the “floor book” record which Laura is using to document the project, and note Liz’s class frieze of Thistle Mountain below. Gillian Cain at Comely Park PS found that her pupils are also developing their understanding of communities through the context, and are so enthusiastic about it that they choose to draw Thistle Mountain during golden time.
WOSDEC have adapted the Giant of Thistle Mountain for second level pupils, and the teachers involved with this plan were really pleased with the degree of impact already on their pupils. Click here to see some of the extended and creative writing done by primary 5/6/7 composite pupils at Limerigg PS with their teacher Ashley Thomson. Pupils at Limerigg are very engaged in the storyline and are sad that other pupils in the authority are not able to take part – they thought everyone should be doing this topic! Katrina Lucas at Comely Park PS, and Heather Nicol at Carron PS both have pupils who are responding really well to the storyline (see Heather’s class Thistle Mountain frieze at the start of this post), and developing their creative and critical thinking during the drama and other activities. Brenda Bennie at Kinnaird PS and Nicola Kemp at Bantaskin PS have been “blown away” by the improvement in their pupils’ understanding of stereotypes and citizenship in general. Their pupils have really got the message that you “shouldn’t judge things you don’t know about”.
It was evident from these updates from the teachers, that the global storyline is already having a huge impact on Falkirk pupils. Marie-Jeanne, Diana and Lynn were also hugely impressed by the degree of reflection, professional enquiry skills and creativity of the teachers involved. Yvonne has suggested that some teachers may want to share their work at the Global Citizenship Showcase event which will take place at Larbert Village PS on 15th May 2014.
Clare Doherty and the nursery team at Kinneil Primary used the storyline approach during January 2014 to explore aspects of Health and Well-Being, Literacy and Technology. This project began in response to some reading about dinosaurs and their eggs. The children were obviously interested in creatures which came from eggs and the team explored how their storyline might work. Yvonne McBlain provided some advice and a storyline plan based around a dragon’s egg, which Clare and the team adapted for their purposes. The children “discovered” a large egg in the nursery one day – click here to see some of the “egg” research they then did. They couldn’t decide whether their egg needed to be kept warm or cold, so built one nest indoors, and another outdoors just in case. The staff used a series of letters from the “mother” of the egg, to direct the children towards their research and HWB skill and knowledge development. Activities around the nursery were linked to the context throughout and enabled the children to develop small motor skills using a range of materials. When the egg finally hatched, and the children were able to see the creature, they decided he looked like the character from the book they were reading during their Scottish studies. He therefore became Hamish McHaggis and staff were then able to link him effectively to Burns teaching and learning. Clare felt that one of the benefits of the storyline was to make these Hamish books more accessible to the children.
In order to bring the storyline to a satisfactory conclusion for the children, staff delivered a letter from Hamish’s mum explaining that just after Chinese New Year, Hamish had to join her in Hong Kong. Click here to take a look at the children’s mind map of what he would need to pack for the journey. On 31st January, the storyline finished with a celebration where the children waved goodbye to Hamish.
This storyline engaged most pupils by choice and linked very well into literacy week. Click here and here to see writing by some of the afternoon children who were keen to complete their booklets so Hamish could take them with him on his journey. The storyline provided an interdisciplinary learning context which proved to be very responsive to the children’s interests and to the seasonal learning often delivered at this time of year. It also motivated and engaged the children’s interest really well. Click here to see the storyline plan used by the team.