Category: From the community

Remote Learning – What is Working? Berwickshire High School in Scottish Borders.

In this guest blog post, Derek Huffman, PT Pedagogy / English Teacher from Berwickshire High School in Scottish Borders, South East Improvement Collaborative, shares what is working well in remote learning and what they can take back to the classrooms as a whole school team when learners return.

 

One of the many issues facing teachers during ‘remote learning’ is maintaining high levels of student engagement. It is understandable why, when left to their own devices, a student might reach for their PlayStation controller rather than their school iPad. What can we do to fight this?

At Berwickshire High School, our student engagement spreadsheet suggests that, in some areas, teachers are consistently keeping students coming back for more. After discussing with staff what is working, I found that, though no two people are doing the exact same thing, there are some key commonalities. 

I’ve pulled these together, with some exemplification, in this seven-minute video:

Where it’s working, teachers are focussed on the following:

  • Simplifying: reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ students are facing to what is essential. What is simplest way to word the Learning Intentions? Do you need that extra slide?
  • Using the success criteria like a checklist
  • Having a ‘consistency of experience’ for the students: students know that at this time, they go here, where they’ll experience a lesson with a common structure – starting with daily review, going into a discussion of the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, followed by teacher modelling and time to complete a task, and ending with a plenary where the teacher checks that the students have learned what they should have.
  • Giving brief, regular, useful bits of feedback that outline next steps

None of this is rocket science, but it works. The good news is that these are all the exact same things we should be doing in our actual classrooms. If we can focus on getting this right during these wild times, just think how much more effective we’ll be as teachers when we bring what we’ve learned back into our classrooms!

The majority of teachers I know are being too hard on themselves at the moment. It’s important to remember that we are doing our best, and if you are struggling, call someone. Send an email. We’re all in the same boat and if we row in the same direction, we’ll get there.

Derek Huffman , PT Pedagogy, Berwickshire High School

gw09huffmanderek@glow.sch.uk

 

 

Using Microsoft Forms to Support Learners and Assess Understanding

Gayle Badger is a Biology and Science teacher from Johnstone High School in Renfrewshire.

She has been using Microsoft Forms to support and assess learners understanding of the course content. Forms has allows her to create a variety of questions and provide instant feedback for them. This has been extremely beneficial and has received great feedback form learners and parents about how the instant feedback has guided their learning and next steps. Forms also allows Gayle to embed video and picture content that can be used to flip the learning or even to provide support to incorrect answers on the quiz, allowing learners to revise their answers more independently. 

“It is definitely my go to now for checking understanding and I also use it as a ‘live’ lesson to go over answers , especially with seniors where they can see where they may have gone wrong with their answers.”
 
Pupils have said that they find it useful to have the teacher go over answers ‘live’, after completing the form, as they benefit from hearing her ‘going through the process’ of how to pick out data from the problem solving questions – just like they would do in class.
 
 
Here are two examples for different stages:
 
 
 
 
 

Microsoft Innovative Educators in Scotland

MIE Scotland Blog

Microsoft Innovative Educators in Scotland

Grow your professional learning network with a likeminded community who understands and supports you.

The community comprise of all sectors of education with Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC) members, technical support specialists and Glow key contacts from local authorities around Scotland.

You can read the PDF embedded (best on desktop browsers) or download the PDF via the button.

Download the PDF here

The Modern Studies, Sociology and Politics Collaborative

Mr McCabe, from Prestwick Academy in South Ayrshire:

“The Modern Studies, Sociology and Politics Collaborative is a community of teaching and non-teaching professionals on Microsoft Teams. With over 1000 members, it has grown quickly in recent years and includes staff from the classroom and the Scottish Parliament. It is both a resource space for the subjects as well as a place for collaboration and support. Here you will find a digital community who are happy to share and make use of each other’s expertise or use the group think to solve problems. The site has become an invaluable “go-to” space during the recent lockdown as we have worked to meet the challenges of the day.”

If you want to hear more, find the team on twitter @ModSocPolCollab
to request to join the team then please follow this link https://bit.ly/ModsSocAndPol
 

webinar logo for literacy

Teaching English with O365 Forms, Susan Galloway, Drumchapel High School

Susan Galloway, from Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, shares how she has used O365 Forms to engage learners and improve attainment in English with it.

 

We have been using Microsoft Forms to support pupil engagement in English and we’ve found that this has had a positive impact on attainment and supported assessment of learners at all stages.

In the BGE, we’ve primarily used Forms as quizzes to support pupils with short reading tasks. These are self-marking and classes often have access to quizzes with different levels of challenge. We generally use the ‘chilli challenge’ concept for this with the majority of learners being asked to do the ‘Hot’ challenge with a ‘Spicy’ and ‘Extra Hot’ version to offer challenge and support. What surprised us was how keen pupils were to choose the more challenging versions and their increased resilience even if they got quiz questions wrong. This approach particularly benefitted pupils who struggled with literacy and who could use assistive technologies to support them if needed.

For Senior Phase pupils our focus has been in using Forms to support RUAE. Questions from past papers or any close reading can be easily copied into Forms and it only takes about 5 minutes to create a Higher paper. Self-marking is less effective here as we expect pupils to have a wider range of responses so the basic Forms format works best. The ability to see all pupil answers in spreadsheet format means teachers can quickly identify questions learners have struggled with and accordingly target teaching. It also means you can easily share anonymised answers with pupils and get them to peer mark, identifying quality answers and how to improve weaker ones. Previously I would have typed example pupil answers or used a visualiser on a pupil’s work but this approach saves time and makes peer assessment more straightforward for pupils to access. RUAE results have directly improved as a result of this approach.

Both the quizzes and forms are really straightforward and quick to make, and easy to share with colleagues which helps reduce teacher workload. Pupils benefit from being able to use assistive technologies to read questions aloud and pupil feedback has been extremely positive.

Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary – Webinar

Andrew Boulind and Rory Buchanan, St Joseph’s Primary School, Aberdeen

We shared how Blended Learning has been used on return at the start of this new session 2020-2021 and its impact on the learners. After having returned in August form Lockdown, we felt it was important to utilise the digital skills the learners had gained as well as improving pupil engagement, motivation, and challenge by using a blended approach to learning in the classroom. By maintaining this blended approach, we have been able to provide a differentiated and more personalised approach to learning.

Although technology has played an important part in our classes it has been important to create a stimulating environment in the classroom where the displays demonstrate a range of curricular areas and are accessible and used to reinforce learning.

By using our variation of Blended learning, the pupils have been leading the learning. It was vital for us that learning was relevant and built on previous online learning. The approach has made sure that pupils are aware of learning expectations and know how to be successful in their learning, whether online or in class.

Learners are engaging in various types of learning experiences, online, in class and in groups. Learners are encouraged to develop high order thinking strategies in their classwork using the and online activities. Due to the use of online assessment tools the Learners are aware of feedback and can act rapidly on this. Digital technology is a feature of learning with both in class as well as at home. After the lockdown and the possibility that they had more “textbook type activities” it has been important to provide them with activities that they can relate their learning to real life contexts.

The Webinar will looked at the tools and pedagogy used in this first term (August – October), the digital tools used and their impact on their learners. 

Recorded Webinar – Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary

 

      PowerPoint Presentation – Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary

Using Easi-Speak to develop storytelling and writing by Lynn Eileen Allison, Hoddom Primary in Dumfries and Galloway

We have been using film literacy and voice-recording to develop our learners’ comprehension of a text.

 

We watched this video: Dragon Slayer | A Short Film by Robert Kuczera and then used stills from it after the viewing to ‘read it’. The pupils in the class were given one picture each to make notes about what they
could see in their photo. They were then asked to put the photos in order that they felt the story took
place.

Having put the images in chronological order they were asked to use their notes to narrate the story by using an Easi-Speak microphone, which in a previous lesson they had been taught how to use, to record and download. Listening to what had happened, it was passed onto the next speaker to build upon the story with their own ideas.

The class loved developing the story and sharing their narration with other classes. So, the following week  they were given a storyboard with fewer shots and asked to retell their story by adding a twist to the story line. Once again, the children enjoyed developing their personal story, with the ideas they had previously generated as a class.

 

This is the story board they used:

Bebras Computing Challenge at Portlethen Academy

post by Ian Simpson (@familysimpson), Faculty Head of ICT at Portlethen Academy (@portyacad)

 

What is the Bebras Computing Challenge?

The Bebras Computing Challenge is a long-running international competition which promotes the importance of computational thinking and problem solving skills in a wider world context. It is organised in over 50 countries and designed to get students aged 6 to 18 from all over the world excited about computing.

Students have to employ a variety of problem-solving strategies in order to complete up to 18 challenges in the allotted time. High scoring students may be lucky enough to qualify for a celebration event which, in previous years, has taken place at Hertford College, Oxford.

 

Why we entered the competition

At Portlethen Academy all S1-3 students take part in the competition, with those in senior phase given the chance to participate as part of their Computing Science or Mathematics classes. Every individual who takes part receives a digital certificate from the University of Oxford which can be printed out in school or at home and those who achieve scores in the top 25% of the cohort are invited to take part in the TCSOCC Challenge in February as recognition of their strong computational thinking skills and to increase their exposure to computer programming problems.

Faculty Head of ICT Ian Simpson has coached groups of students to take part in the Bebras Computing Challenge since 2013. “To get the best out of the groups it shouldn’t be an add on or break from ‘normal lessons’, it is in the school’s best interest to embed teaching of computational thinking skills and prepare for the challenge using the practice challenges or the Perfect Day app.”

 

What pupils learnt from it

Seven students from S1 and 2 scored highly enough in the 2019 challenge to receive an invitation to the celebration event at Hertford College in January 2020. Thanks to support from contacts at Total and Aberdeenshire DYW six were able to travel to Oxford to take part in the final round, experience Computing Science sample lectures and find out more about life as a student at the University of Oxford. Ian Simpson added “This was the first time that such a high number of students from a state school in Aberdeenshire had qualified for the final round. It was a surprise in some ways but testament to the hard work the students put in preparing for the challenge.”

As well as giving students the chance to think creatively and apply their knowledge from across a variety of subject areas the Bebras Computing Challenge helps build student resilience. These skills have increasing demand in further and higher education and will serve them well in the workplace of the future. Taking part in the final round also gave the students increased confidence in their own abilities and, on the drive back to Heathrow, many were sharing strategies they had learned from other participants to improve on their scores next year.

 

Sign up for Bebras here.

Inspiring Digital Enterprise Awards, Grove Academy

iDEA Awards, Grove Academy

Gavin Pyott, PT Computing Science

I became aware of the iDEA awards by chance when it was first launched 3 years ago. I can’t explain how glad I am that I did. The programme is so well written and produced that all learners are drawn into the modules and are keen to do more. Due to the positive impact iDEA had with classes in my department l began promoting the awards and encouraging others to use it within their schools. As a result of this l was awarded the title of Teacher Ambassador from iDEA.  

The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, known as iDEA, is an international programme that helps students develop and demonstrate digital, enterprise and employability skills.

Since its launch, iDEA has established itself as the digital equivalent of The Duke of Edinburgh Award. The iDEA awards are recognised by universities and employers so are a great addition to any student’s CV.

The iDEA awards allow students to map their knowledge and understanding of the digital world through a series of modules (badges).

The badges have been designed to unlock new opportunities and raise awareness of the diverse range of careers in our digital world, all the while allowing students to gain an industry recognised award to help them stand out from the crowd.

To achieve a Bronze Award, students need to earn a minimum of 250 points, including at least 40 points in each of the core categories of the curriculum: Citizen, Worker, Maker and Entrepreneur.

CITIZEN BADGES cover digital awareness, safety and ethics.

WORKER BADGES introduce tools and techniques which are useful in the digital workplace.

MAKER BADGES cover digital creativity and building and making in the digital world.

ENTREPRENEUR BADGES explain how to originate ideas and bring them to life.

GAMER BADGES investigate gamification techniques and help people learn how to make games.

These badges are all very informative and explain complex concepts in a straightforward, easy to understand, way. All badges are designed to be interactive, allowing pupils to answer questions as they go, building up their knowledge step-by-step.

To help track student progress iDEA have launched ‘organiser codes’ and the organiser area. This allows you to provide pupils with a simple code to add to their iDEA profiles. This will then pull the progress charts for each pupil together into a handy, easy to use spreadsheet.

After completing the Bronze award, many pupils volunteer to move on to the Silver. Unlike Bronze, the Silver award has been written as a series of topics. Each topic is story-based with students being guided through a real-life scenario as they discover the skills required to progress.

Due to the amazing quality and excellent writing in the badges in the programme the target audience range has really been opened up. I have successfully delivered the iDEA award in S1, S2 and S3. We now have pupils is S4-6 who are also tapping into the programme as it has caught their attention. iDEA also works great in an upper primary setting. My own daughter liked the look of the badges and had a go herself. She successfully completed the Bronze award in Primary 6 and completed her Silver when in Primary 7. Not wanting to stop there she completed a total of 50 Bronze badges to become ‘Badge Champion’ and completed the remaining Silver topic to become a

‘Silver Star’. This determination to complete the modules has been replicated by students in my classes who applied the Pokemon ‘got to get them all’ approach to the badges and awards. I have to admit, I have done this too! The iDEA badges are so interesting and informative I found I couldn’t stop either! As an introduction to a new concept (block chain) or to brush up existing skills the iDEA Award is great CLPL for staff too.

Mr Pyott has created a Sway which will give you a full introduction to the work and process involved in using iDEA and his top tips. To view click here.

To see more from Mr Pyott you can visit his Twitter feed on @MrPyott

To see more from Grove Academy, please visit their Twitter feed on @Grove_Academy

You can find out more on iDEA Awards via https://idea.org.uk/