Category: Early Years

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17 September 16:00 – 17:00, Unleashing Creativity Using Digital Tools

Find out how you can embed creativity and digital tools into your everyday lessons through this online webinar.

Creativity can be thought of as the colour that brings Curriculum for Excellence to life. The four core creativity skills run throughout the four capacities and are integral to the meta skills which are increasingly important in today’s workplace.

Find out how you can embed creativity and digital tools into your everyday lessons through this online webinar.

This session is open to all practitioners and aimed at any age or stage, touching on various areas of the curriculum.

Register here

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20 August 16:00 – 17:00, An Introduction to using Glow and Office 365: Easing Workflow

Interactive overview of RM Unify and Office 365

Introductory interactive overview of RM Unify and Office 365 – Adding tiles and customising your Glow Launchpad -How to access Glow Mail, benefits of OneDrive and Office Web Apps.

Please be aware these sessions are for practitioners across Scotland who have a Glow account. Some products may not be available in your Local Authority, please check in advance.

Upon booking your ticket a link will be issued to you for you to join the Digital Skills Microsoft Team Site within Glow where the training will take place, this can take 24hours to process.

Register here

Guest Bloggers D Keenan and M Brough DCC

Our Lockdown Journey as ESO for Digital Learning

Our Lockdown Journey as ESO for Digital Learning

By Meg Brough and Dave Keenan

In January 2020 we gained the title ‘Education Support Officers for Digital Learning.’ After interview, it was decided we would job share for the duration of our secondment opportunity. We would each be allocated 2 days a week: one together, one independently. (Dave is PT Modern Studies and Meg teaches English and Media). This was totally manageable, right?

We sat with the previous Digital ESO Jenni for days, our heads spinning with new information about Computing Science, Computational Thinking, 3D Printing, Glow security and CRIS. We would be covering Jenni’s role when she moved to Education Scotland and were determined to learn as much as possible from her and keep continuity. “You have to make this job your own,” she said. Oh, how little we knew!

We began to support schools in Dundee, working with them to embed a robust digital infrastructure in schools and throughout the Authority. We developed a calendar of CLPL opportunities, attending meetings and enjoying the best part of the job – meeting new people. By the end of February we were steadily gaining confidence and making great contacts.

In March 2020, the schools closed and every practitioner in Scotland had to switch to engaging with Digital Learning. Our job started to creep into every aspect of our lives. The question of whether we were ready for this was irrelevant. It was imperative to provide our practitioners with the skills needed to continue to provide a high standard of education for our children and young people.
We had a few weeks to prepare for the impending closure, so we finished small jobs we had started and then moved on to creating help sheets and resources. Meg worked on creating the Dundee City Council Online Learning Hub. We didn’t want to restrict our support to staff, but to provide a central location to support pupils and parents too. This site would house Learning Resources, Information about Online Safety and Help with digital tools such as Glow. The website has been separated into sections for Staff, Pupils and Parents, and each houses information and links relevant to each kind of user.

We quickly realised that the volume of queries and support required couldn’t be managed by email alone. Dave had the idea of setting up the DCC Education Digital Support Team and adding every teacher in Dundee. No easy task! This was an area we could store our help sheets and answer any queries.

This grew arms, legs and many other limbs. So much so that the practitioners who were supporting us with Learning Resources had to split off into a separate support team. We worked with DCC’s amazing Pedagogy team to create a site where staff could access CLPL Opportunities and Learning Resources, which left the purpose of our Team purely for digital support. Since the creation of the team on the 6th March, we have had 1,268 active users leaving 258 posts. What is more impressive though, is that from those posts we have had 591 replies. This demonstrates a pattern we have noticed. We, as owners, are not the only people who are answering queries. By starting this support group we have upskilled staff to be able to answer each other’s questions. This fits in very well with our vision to promote Digital Leadership throughout the Authority.

We often see a peak in engagement within our Team when we host our Webinars. We have hosted a few webinars which have focused on setting up online classes, setting and marking assignments in Teams… the list goes on! Along with our own home-made efforts, we have hosted hundreds of staff in webinars with Ian Stuart from Microsoft and this is helping us build our MIE base across schools.

Staff uptake of MIE CLPL is really taking off and school managers are looking at how to take everything to the next level with Digital Schools, Microsoft Schools and Incubator status.We have also created a YouTube channel to house our tutorial videos. Reflecting on the help sheets we had originally made, we found it much easier to demonstrate how to use a digital tool by sending a link to a video. We were so fortunate that the Accessibility and Inclusion service provided us with videos which have been translated into Arabic. Our most popular video has been a guide to using Microsoft Teams Assignments and Immersive reader through Glow for pupils. Teachers have been sharing this with their pupils and have found it useful to see what their pupils are seeing.

The May Inservice day was planned to focus on Supporting Learners with Additional Support Needs. Our original plan was to deliver training to our Digital Leaders and in turn they would deliver this to their own school staff on the Inservice day. This was going to be a perfect example of the ‘Train the Trainer’ model we wish to develop. Our Digital Leaders are representatives from each school who have a vested interest in Digital Learning and who want to work with their colleagues to embed Digital Learning as a key component of the curriculum. As all events on our CLPL calendar had to be cancelled, we had to re-evaluate how to provide this kind of training. Instead used this situation to our advantage and tried to reach a wider audience by creating a presentation of all kinds of digital tools that could be used to support learners with ASN. In our Staff version we included links to training guides (such as the Microsoft Educator Centre) as well as information about how to use these in the classroom.

In our general guide we also included information about how these tools can be used at home to help parents and learners. We included information about Accessibility Tools on iPads, as well as Microsoft and Google products. We also plugged CALL Scotland who are fabulous at providing advice on these kinds of products. We had an extremely positive response towards this, particularly from members of the ‘Supporting Learners’ Microsoft Team which we have supported the Accessibility and Inclusion Service to set up. The effort from the AIS Team is just one example of the impressive work we have seen practitioners take on in order to up-skill themselves to provide the best support possible for our young people.

Unsurprisingly, we have seen the number of Digital Leaders across the authority rise as more staff realise the value and exciting opportunities involved with Digital Learning. We have set up a new Team for Digital Leaders who will be offered many training opportunities to support their schools in their Digital journey. We had aimed to work with select schools to achieve a Digital School’s Award and embed a digital infrastructure. We imagine that many of our schools, if they continue to engage with these digital tools, will be more than deserving of a Digital Schools award. A large part of achieving this is teaching Cyber Resilience and Internet Safety as a standard part of the curriculum. The first remote training opportunity our Digital Leaders will take part in is ‘Safe and Empowered’ training delivered by Jess McBeth from SWGfL. This is an excellent course which we attended as part of our own original training which takes the negativity away from conversations around internet safety, instead empowering young people to make responsible decisions online. We have really enjoyed working remotely with external partners to provide them with ways to engage with schools and staff remotely.

We also try to keep up to date and network with members of other authorities. Social media has been an excellent way to do this. We have also enjoyed taking part in the weekly Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert catch up on a Friday morning. This allows us to chat to other Microsoft Edu enthusiasts and try to emulate good practice we see in other authorities.

We continue to meet virtually, together and with partners (sometimes with the addition of a three- year-old climbing on Meg’s head) to develop the Digital Skills of all stakeholders. This week we have written a paper on “Effective Remote and Digital Learning in Dundee City Council” which we hope will complement the recovery plan of our authority as we move to into a Blended Learning environment. This outlines our vision for moving forward; we plan to build on the fantastic skills our educators have acquired and to make Digital Learning standard practice in every classroom in Dundee.

Finally, we’d like to extend our thanks to all staff in Dundee City Council for showing such passion, enthusiasm and resilience in the face of such an horrific situation. Personally, we can take so many positives from the lockdown situation which completely justify the hours we have put in! Digital Learning has exploded in Dundee and although we advise on the practicalities of using such tools, it is the practitioners who teach us all about the innovative ways to use these tools to deliver High Quality Learning and Teaching opportunities. From Virtual Sports days to online STEM challenges we are constantly amazed by the quality of Remote learning in Dundee and the positivity of our educators.

For helpful links, information or just to check out what we are up to, follow @DigiLearnDundee on Twitter.

@DigiLearnDundee@missmbrough@davekeenan8

29 October 2020 16:00 – 17:00, Staying Connected as an ELC Team: GSuite Collaboration Tools via Glow.

Afternoon Webinar – Thursday 29th October 2020 4-5pm

A Glow login is required to join this webinar.

This session will focus on how ELC practitioners can make the best use of digital tools that are available to use via Glow. Focusing on G-Suite, this webinar will explore how you can communicate and collaborate with your colleagues in real-time, on Google Docs, and Jamboard. This session will also explore creative ways to share important information such as newsletters and learning materials in Google slides. All other practitioners are also welcome to join this webinar but please note that it will not cover Google Classroom or Assignments.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

28 October  2020 10:00 – 11:00, Staying Connected as an ELC Team: MS O365 Collaboration Tools via Glow

Morning webinar – Wednesday 28th October  2020 10 -11am

A Glow login is required to join this webinar.

This session will focus on how ELC practitioners can make the best use of digital tools that are available to us via Glow, to remain connected as a team. This webinar will explore Teams and Sway within Microsoft Office 365. You will be guided through creating your own staff team and shown how you can work in collaboration with your colleagues in real-time. The session will also cover creative ways to share important information such as newsletters and learning materials. All other practitioners are also welcome to join this webinar but please note that it will not cover Class Teams or Assignments.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

07 October  2020 16:00 – 17:00, Supporting early level learners to digitally document their learning.

Afternoon Webinar – Wednesday 7th October  2020 4-5pm

Glow login required.

In this introductory session, you will find out about a range of digital tools that exist to support learners to document their learning, by allowing them to creatively capturing their voice and interactions. The session will be brought to life by real examples of rich media footage captured by whiteboard recording, green screen, interactive digital books, lip-syncing and storytelling apps. This webinar also focuses on how the media can be collated collaboratively by practitioners and then shared with parents and carers via Glow. All other practitioners working with learners at any level are also welcome to join this webinar.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

07 October  2020 10:00 – 11:00, Supporting early level learners to digitally document their learning.

Morning Webinar – Wednesday 7th October  2020 10-11am

Glow login required.

In this introductory session, you will find out about a range of digital tools that exist to support learners to document their learning, by allowing them to creatively capturing their voice and interactions. The session will be brought to life by real examples of rich media footage captured by whiteboard recording, green screen, interactive digital books, lip-syncing and storytelling apps. This webinar also focuses on how the media can be collated collaboratively by practitioners and then shared with parents and carers via Glow. All other practitioners working with learners at any level are also welcome to join this webinar.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

01 October 2020 16:00 -17:00, Confidence, creativity, and curiosity in early level computing science.

Afternoon Webinar -Thursday 1 Oct 2020 4-5pm

Glow login required.

Gain an understanding of the National advice, guidance and where to access a wealth of free learning and teaching resources to embed computing science at early level. This session is for practitioners working with learners in ELC or Primary School AND all other practitioners who work with learners at any level, with an interest in creatively embedding computing science in their learning environment.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

01 October 2020 10:00 – 11:00, Confidence, creativity, and curiosity in early level computing science.

AM Webinar -Thursday 1 Oct 2020 10-11am

Glow login required.

Gain an understanding of the National advice, guidance and where to access a wealth of free learning and teaching resources to embed computing science at early level. This session is for practitioners working with learners in ELC or Primary School AND all other practitioners who work with learners at any level, with an interest in creatively embedding computing science in their learning environment.

Please sign up via Eventbrite here.

screenshot of the four contexts

Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey One Moment in Time – Assessment

This unique period in our history needed to be captured.

It was one moment in time that, we will not experience again in our lifetime, but without a doubt, our pupils will always remember the time that the country went into lockdown, schools closed, they couldn’t play with their friends and they watched their teachers at home on webcams.

As educators, we assess to see what our children know, understand and can do and this informs our next steps, our reporting and the overall tracking of progress, however with our approach of ‘do what works for you’ during term 4 we had to be adaptive and creative with our assessments. Learning was happening, it just wasn’t happening inside a classroom.

Therefore, we decided to use the Education Scotland templates to capture learning across the four CfE contexts and using the four capacities at the heart of the curriculum. This allowed us to seize absolutely everything, from learning to bake and cross stitching at home to pupils assisting elderly neighbours with shopping during the pandemic and inextricably linked to these the skills, attitude, values, and morals that were being instilled.
We were delighted that some of our learning featured in Issue 4 of the Education Scotland newsletter for practitioners as an example of good practice detailing how we worked with families during lockdown to recognise and celebrate the successes of our children.

https://education.gov.scot/media/expdo4bc/practitionersnewsissue4.pdf.

We are also thrilled that we feature on Education Scotland’s website for the support of the refreshed Curriculum for Excellence narrative: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/learning-resources/resources-to-support-the-refreshed-curriculum-for-excellence-narrative/ and were surprised to see our assessment captures even feature in CLPL session slides from the Education Scotland Digital Team.

We needed to use assessment to inform our next steps as we would in the classroom, our digital timetable had to be relevant and the lessons had to be pitched correctly. Therefore, we planned for assessment in term 4 using our remote learning FAST remote-learning strategy that we had used throughout the lockdown period as a way of ensuring a consistent approach:

F – We chose to capture our learning using Book Creator as this allowed us a flexible way to create digital books of exactly what was happening during the period, embedding rich media such as videos and audio to bring the learning to life. Book Creator is free and has a simple user interface that can be accessed on a range of devices; therefore, it gave us the flexibility we were looking for to share the learning with our families and community.You can view our books on the links below to see for yourself:

Four Capacities: https://read.bookcreator.com/w0lbHSyRN9RIre7Z1W6WmgDuO6IcAhZtJGvzO7pf9Q0/xCHqVXzBRF-3s66mD5WljA

Four Context: https://read.bookcreator.com/LvokurZdF2swW6YiaTTGHtybUk5AD1Cwa9lIPW3GHmA/zudnsqGETi-_3pwChVkEJw

A – Self-evaluation and goal setting is something we normally do in term 4 across the school, where children self-assess their achievements and successes from the school session and set themselves realistic goals for the following session.

We wanted this to continue, but we had to adapt how we would normally do this since it was remote and we were working with P1-7 in the one Microsoft Team, therefore using Microsoft Forms we created two child-friendly versions of self-reflection questions that families could complete together at home and we could use the responses to identify the individual achievements. We found this accessible format worked well and allowed individuals to capture their moments in time.

Furthermore, we made use of accessible features in Microsoft OneNote such as the maths wizard to generate self-marking quizzes using Microsoft Forms, these short assessments allowed us to identify misconceptions and plan for next steps during our P1-3 Number Ninja sessions and P4-7 Mental Agility and Mental Maths sessions. They were very easy to create and could be used to direct pupils to further support, such as relevant YouTube videos, when questions were answered incorrectly.

We also assessed formatively using the ‘hands up’ feature during live calls on Microsoft Teams and the comments function, this was particularly useful during Story and Quiz time and during the planning of taught writing to check understanding and we found it a quick and assessable way to ‘check-in’ with our pupils understanding and use this to inform next steps.

Digital Escape Rooms were a huge hit with our pupils, they loved them! We created these using Microsoft OneNote and as time moved on we started to link the escape room questions to activities that were taking place, such as a question from the Story + Quiz, this allowed us to check understanding and as it was on Microsoft OneNote it was completely accessible to everyone, but importantly pupils completed it without even realising it was an assessment. It was fun and something we will continue to use when back in the classroom as they would work well for areas like IDL topic assessment.

Other assessment we carried out remotely in term 4, included the use of self-assessment rubrics in Microsoft Teams assignments; this was a useful feature that could be attached to the assignment, peer assessment using Glow Blogs and Flipgrid and teacher assessment of work that was being submitted to us, with comments left on Class Notebooks and as discussed on a previous blog we issued a gold star and written feedback for all work.

We chose not to use the Grading the function within Microsoft Teams assignments as our motto of ‘do what works for you’ did mean that some pupils in our team did not complete assignments which skewed the statistics, but this was perfectly ok. Nevertheless, if we find ourselves in the situation of blended learning in the future then we would reassess this approach under the new context of part-time learning at school with specific and progressive follow up work at home and this will be explored this further in a future blog. This would not operate as a dichotomy between learning in class and learning at home, assessment would be holistic and used to bridge blended learning.

S – As discussed on our previous blog about sustaining engagement, we understood that learning would only happen when families felt supported and were not under pressure to ‘try and keep up’ or concerned about their child ‘falling behind’.
Every decision we made was assessed against the FAST strategy, with support being central to it, it relied on parents and carers being empowered and supported to truly “do what works for them”.
We recognise that learning does not just take place in a school or on a computer screen and therefore we were delighted to see how happy and safe our pupils were and to see them take part in ‘real-life’ learning – knitting, cross-stitching, gardening, baking, helping with chores around the house, cooking, outdoor walks and supporting parents/carers with younger children.
If anything, positive comes from this lockdown it will be the chance our children had to spend time with their families, play board games, learn true life skills and to develop their resilience during a global pandemic. We heard from some families who said that their child excelled working from home and exploring their own interests, they loved doing their own thing and we were glad we were able to support and capture this learning too. This family feedback is something we need to be mindful of when the transition back to fulltime learning in a school takes place, particularly for these children. Nurture and support will be central to this.

T – Assessment always needs to be timely, otherwise it is not informative. We certainly did not carry out any formal summative assessments as there was no need to add additional pressure and stress on families or children, however, lots of well-timed formative assessments allowed us to plan and prioritise our digital online timetable.

Some of the best learning took place when children had the time to work on a project, this was evident with the fantastic R2D2 STEM challenges completed for Star Wars Day, den building, Jurassic Park STEM and the cooking and physical challenges.
These types of activities allowed our children to be creative, to think critically and to use their inquiry skills with an end product to be proud of – true evidence of their learning and development of important metacognitive skills.

Furthermore, activities that allowed children to work together collaboratively in their own time were popular, this link is to a book that the children worked on within Book Creator linked to music and art, working in real-time to add parts to the same book to create a finished product of each interpretation of the music ‘The Carnival of the Animals’ composed by Camille Saint-Saens:
https://read.bookcreator.com/LvokurZdF2swW6YiaTTGHtybUk5AD1Cwa9lIPW3GHmA/yTZQMubyR7Wwi7HOUb7XSQ

We also had children work to create a discursive writing piece in the collaboration area of Class Notebook on Microsoft Teams, writing a paragraph each on their viewpoint on who the better footballer is – Ronaldo or Messi? Differing opinions that allowed us as educators to challenge opinions further and for the pupils to then use their internet access to research and evidence their stance. A great discursive piece that worked well remotely and taught valuable skills of researching, evidencing, and referencing.

Flipgrid was another successful application we used, allowing children to listen to stories read by a teacher and then respond with a video follow up question or for our P1 – 3 Number Ninjas to demonstrate their learning such as times tables or number bonds and even had virtual Number Ninja gradings, with children moving up a ninja belt after assessment.

As Flipgrid was something that was not time-consuming for our pupils (they downloaded the app or worked online and recorded their videos and thoughts) they were able to peer assess with video responses and comments and to self-assess using a rubric – all accessible with their Glow login details.

We believe that Flipgrid is a fantastic tool for assessment with so much potential, it is fun and engaging and at a time when Tik Tok videos are popular amongst this age group, we found this was a fantastic way for children to express themselves within a safe environment with the videos able to be used as assessment evidence by the educator and even feedback left in written format, video format, or assessed against a rubric.

Wider achievements also took place during Lockdown with many of our children earning Hi5 Youth Scotland Awards and one girl completing a run each day to raise money for a chosen charity. Children still took part in remote clubs like gymnastics and taekwondo and of course we had lots of family Zoom quiz successes to share too. These wider achievements could be celebrated at our virtual Superstar Assembly each week and were equally as important to capture for us.

So, how will we use this assessment to plan for the next term?

Well, our goal for term 4 was on the health and wellbeing of our children, therefore we will use the information we captured as positive discussion points with our children when they return to school in August. Our teachers will be able to discuss the learning that took place at home or online and have meaningful conversations with our pupils on this and what it meant for them.
Of course, there are also the families we did not hear from or who did not share their experiences with us and this information is as equally as important for us to be acutely aware of as we aim to resettle and transition all our pupils back into school life. As discussed on a previous blog, we need to understand the barriers these families faced and how we could make blended learning work for them should we find ourselves having to implement that format.

Will we be starting the new session with lots of assessments to see what children ‘fell behind’ or get our children ‘caught up’ on what they missed?

Absolutely not.

This has been a traumatic time for our pupils, they have not seen their friends for a long time, they didn’t get to say ‘goodbye’ to their last teacher, they were locked up for months and some of the children will not understand why. They are returning to a very different school with physical distancing in place and one way systems – children are resilient, but we all know that learning does not take place unless Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been met; so we will be putting Maslow before Bloom for some time and ensuring that our children feel safe, secure and nurtured!

Each child had their own unique experience during the lockdown and we are confident that the purpose of the curriculum, encapsulated in the four capacities, was captured, and evidenced throughout our school.
To summarise in the words of Whitney Houston, “You’re a winner for a lifetime If you seize that one moment in time. Make it shine”, our pupils certainly seized this unique moment in time in a variety of ways.

Stars Really Do Shine Brighter at Mossend Primary School and Nursery Class.

Patricia McKay is the Depute Head Teacher at Mossend PS & NC in North Lanarkshire and Gordon Reid is a class teacher and ICT Co-ordinator. Together they facilitated and led the remote learning strategy for the school. 

Mossend PS & NC is a non-denominational school situated in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire. The school has 382 pupils and there are 40 children in the nursery attached to the school.  

Twitter: @mossendps @Mr_G_Reid

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/nl/mossendps/