Category: Guest Bloggers

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:

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/ 

Title image - Q and A

DigiLearnScot Webinar Q&A with Claire Eade, Meethill Primary School, Peterhead

We have been speaking to teachers across Scotland to find out more about their experiences of using digital technology to support their learners. In this Q&A Claire Eade, Class Teacher at Meethill Primary School in Peterhead, shares what she has learned from joining webinars to build digital skills and the top tips she would give to other educators on using digital technology. Look out for more Q&As soon!

 

How has your use of digital changed since schools closed in March? 

My use of digital has changed a huge amount. I had used Teams a little bit before schools closed but not to the extent we then needed to. Initially I had no idea how to navigate Teams and upload assignments but taking part in the digital skills webinars helped me with this greatly.

 

Which webinar/s from Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team did you join and why?

I joined the webinar on using mobile devices to enhance and capture language learning and I joined webinars on using Teams. I also joined the webinar on Google Classroom in case I ever need to use that.  

 

Why did you pick these webinars in particular?

The descriptions for these webinars sounded exactly like what I needed to help with teaching the children on-line.

 

How was the experience of joining an online webinar?

They were absolutely brilliant. They were so easy to join. I was sent a link and I just needed to click on it to access the webinar. It’s up to the webinar attendees whether they switch their camera and microphone on. You’re given the opportunity to put questions in and if these aren’t answered at the time then the DigiLearn team will come back to you with an answer later. The webinars are recorded so you also have the option to watch it later which is great in case there is anything you have forgotten.

 

What have you learned from joining these webinar/s to build digital skills?

I’ve learned that it is not essential for me to be face to face with the children to teach them. When schools closed I thought I really needed to be in front of the children to teach them but I’ve learned that we can absolutely teach them on-line.

 

How did you use these skills to support your learners? Tell us more.

These digital skills have helped me to support my learners in many ways. For example I’ve learned how to use screen capture so that I can show my pupils videos or PowerPoints. I can also record commentary over a PowerPoint so that I can highlight and explain different points to my pupils. I can also use the whiteboard tool to actually demonstrate examples to them and aid their understanding.

 

How have you used Glow to help you support learning at home?

I found Glow very useful for finding resources. For example, I found a great resource for teaching activities in French through Glow. I also saw posts from teachers on social media suggesting resources they had found using Glow which I could then go and look up. Glow has also been very useful for communication as my class regularly contacted me through my Glow email while schools were closed.

 

From your experience, what top tips would you give to other educators on using digital?

My top tip is don’t be scared! Don’t be scared to ask questions especially on the DigiLearn Teams group. It doesn’t matter what the question is, and you might think it is a silly question, but there is always someone else wanting to ask the same thing. I posted a question recently asking about how to archive my Team and I got a response back really quickly. It’s important to make use of the expert knowledge out there as there is always someone who can answer your question.

Delivering learning from school to home, Sarah Clark, Queen Anne High School

When schools returned face to face this year in August I had thought that at some point throughout the years some of my students would be working at home for an extended period of time due to covid. That ‘blended learning’ approach we had been planning for back in June would still be needed but didn’t think I would be doing it so soon!

I am a biology and science teacher at Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. We are a Microsoft Showcase School and are very lucky to have 5 MIEExpert member of staff this year. Most of our students are familiar with Microsoft Teams accessing via Glow and staff have been using it to set work and assignments even as we are back in the building.

However in my 2nd full week of teaching I had my first student leave class to isolate at home and that’s when my blended learning approach needed to kick in. I had spoken to all my classes about how things were going to work in our class this year with specific channels set up for ‘Home Working’ and ’Live Lessons’ but I was still scratching my head about managing this now it was a reality.

Class tasks for my senior pupils were set as assignments in Teams so pupils at home could see what work was expected of them. I have all my board notes in a Class OneNote so all students can see what content we are covering but live lessons that students could join from home we’re going to ensure they could still be part of the class.

I set up a meeting in the ’Live Lessons’ channel in Teams and when the student would normally be in class they joined the meeting.

Now I have tech in my classroom having a desktop computer, interactive panel and a Surface Pro device also. This isn’t all needed though.

I join the meeting on my desktop computer and share the screen so that anything I write on the board can be seen by the students in my class but also by the student joining us from home. Unfortunately I have no microphone for my desktop so I needed to join the meeting on a second device. This was what my ‘surface’ was used for but this could be done with a phone or iPad. This device I place pointing towards me and the board (or even towards the class) and I turn the camera and microphone on. This is the device that is picking up what I say and the student can see me too. If the student has their camera on, I can see them, hear them and I am able to check the chat panel easily if they have a question. It is much easier to do this on the second device instead of changing  views repeatedly on the board. I have to turn the sound off on my desktop computer as we did get a terrible echo and there was a few issues if I was showing a video as the sound and image was delayed but overall it worked very well and the students were fully involved in the class. I was even able to put the second device in the absent students seat and they could communicate with their friends while working on a task.

So far I have had 7 live lessons with my higher and advanced higher biology classes and this head meant students haven’t missed any work, there is less need to catch up sessions when they return and they have completed the same work as everyone else in the class. For the student they have also felt sully included in the class and were able to connect with me as their classmates.

This synchronous learning model however is not suitable for all students or all classes. It’s important to ask students if they are able to join live lessons. For my s2 class I have been making short video clips (2-3 mins long) to introduce them to the task they are to do as well as a brief overview of what we covered in class. I have found Flipgrid great for this as I can add the video to the assignments in team along with the task instructions (see the link below for an example of my video). I don’t want to be creating lots of work for myself and it only take me a few minutes to make my video and upload time the Team.

I think since lockdown, as teachers we have learned a lot about how we use technology and how we can integrate it into our class everyday. For home learning I am hoping it can ensure no student missed out of learning because they are at home but also how I can use it to reduce my workload. Blended learning isn’t easy. I’ve gone round in circles the last few weeks and my model may change throughout the year but it’s a start and so far it’s working for me and my students. As a school we are supporting teachers with guides, CPD sessions and links to resource.

My tip would be to test it out with a colleague and iron out any teething problems you have. Let students know your plans and walk them through how to access, how to find the home learning tasks and how to submit.

Sarah Clark @sfm36

Stay Organised with Wakelet

I would like to share with you, my fellow educators, a tool I have discovered recently. riverbank primary school logoIt is called Wakelet. Before, I used Pocket and it was good, but it had its limitations.  

Wakelet is a website and an app. It allows you to curate websites, tweets, pictures,  blog entries, newspaper articles, links, videos, songs, and other items in your Google Drive.  

You classify everything into collections. 

Regarding privacy, you can make these collections private, you can share them with certain people or you can make them public. You can choose the degree of privacy for each collection. Wakelet has a variety of uses: 

For example, Wakelet is a great timesaver, and will put your memory at rest. We can stop relying on remembering everything.  With Wakelet’s collections, you will not lose a thing.  

 Curation is a specially useful feature of Wakelet. As a teacher you read useful articles, websites, watch videos, do CPD etc. You will discover that curating  those items to refer back to and/or share with others is something easy and quick to organise and to find afterwards. You’ll stop saying : ” where did I read that?”. 

 I have a Wakelet colleague in South Africa who I met at the Microsoft Educator centre and again at Twitter.  I never thought before of the enormous possibilities that Wakelet offers to our profession. We share our Wakelet collections in such an easy way. We share ideas, projects, learning, digital literacy tips and good advice. Collaborating  with others is one of the perks of Wakelet. Colleagues can contribute to your collections and you can contribute to theirs. They can add to your list. 

In upper primary and in secondary it can be an exciting tool to to use with the learners. As a teacher, you curate information for the learners to use and master in an online or blended our in the class environment, while the learners can do the same as they organize research projects from a wide variety of digital resources and express themselves by using all the features of Wakelet. to reflect on and connect to previous learning experiences. Wakelet fosters communication. You create a hub for your learners, where they can be confidently  interacting with their classmates about the topic you or they have chosen. Online resources, pieces of work, videos, podcasts, photographs can all be great samples of the work that is being done in the classroom.  

Wakelet’s latest creation is called spaces, it helps you to be top notch organised. Several collections are part of a space and you again can choose its privacy. 

Come and ride the #WakeletWave with us. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop using it. Wakelet is a great tool to keep you prepared. As a Wakelet community Leader, let me know if I can support you with any queries you may have. You can find me in Twitter @pilararqued and Wakelet at https://wakelet.com/@MrsArqued

Blog Header - Rachel

Creating engaging, interactive lessons in Home Economics using Google Slides and Pear Deck

Using Pear Deck, a Google Slides Add-On, in Home Economics makes the lessons engaging, fun, interactive and accessible for all. My best lockdown find!

As we return to teach in a classroom at a social distance from our students, I can set the deck to work either at a student or instructor pace. Using the asynchronous setting Pear Deck allows students to work at their own pace unhindered by others. Nothing holds them back; the high flyers move on to extension activities whilst those who can struggle with their reading or have EAL can use the immersive reader feature. Everyone has a go at the tasks as although their responses can be displayed on my whiteboard they are anonymous so suddenly the quiet student who has never raised their hands contributes to the lesson. At any time the lesson can become synchronous. Left as asynchronous work can be completed when they leave class such as in Study or for homework. At all times during the lesson, I am able to see exactly what each student is working on, stop them and draw their attention to points raised without calling out any particular student and potential embarrassing them. Pear Deck has been my best find of lockdown and is compatible with many other EdTEch tools. Not all features are free but for approximately £10 a month it’s worth the upgrade.
Rachel Richards, PT for Faculty of Design, Technology and Home Economics
Kingussie High School
Highland

Click here to open the Google Slides presentation

Home Economics Google Slide
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

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/

collection of digital tool logos

Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey To app, or not to app, that is the question

According to the New York Times (Nicas and Collins, 2019), there are now over 2 million apps available on the Apple App Store, anything you can think of, in the words of Sesame Street’s infamous song: “There’s an app for that”; yet not all apps are created equally and just because an app exists does not necessarily mean that it is right for our pupils, families, or school.

It is extremely easy to get swept along with the latest gadget release or the next best software release, yet the more apps, software and websites that we add to our pupil collections, the more passwords, logins, site addresses and downloads that each family has to get to grips with. It is extremely easy to overwhelm and inadvertently disengage families and learners with too much technology.

So, at Mossend Primary School and Nursery Class we used our FAST-remote learning strategy to decide on apps, websites, and software that we would use during term 4 in the Lockdown:

F – We knew that digital technology that allows learners to work with peers on a project is by far the most engaging (West Partnership, 2020). Therefore, the technology that allowed our learners the flexibility to work individually, with partners or in smaller groups remotely was a key consideration and we found that Microsoft OneNote, Flipgrid and Glow Blogs allowed us this capability.

We will discuss further in a future blog how this collaboration with peers allowed us to assess learning, but in terms of flexibility, it certainly allowed our children a choice of how they learned.

A- The resources we were putting out had to be accessible to ensure equity across all devices, this was of the utmost importance to us.

In an ideal world, all our learners would be at home on the same type of device with the same broadband bandwidth and speed, but we don’t live in an ideal world and we had to be extremely mindful of using universal file formats that could be opened on as many devices as possible and of download limits and costs that some families could have occurred for large file sizes. We had learners using MacBooks, Windows laptops and PCs, Android tablets, Apple Ipads and even a range of smartphones to access content; it was far from an ideal world.  

This could have easily created additional barriers for families trying to access online content and impact pupil engagement as we discussed on our blog last week. Therefore, we ensured that Word documents were converted to PDF, that MP4 videos were uploaded to unlisted YouTube channels to avoid downloading, that embedded links in OneNote were shared with direct access on the Microsoft Team and that where we were using something that a  universal conversion was not available, we offered alternatives and choice of similar apps across a range of platforms.

Furthermore, it was our professional duty to ensure that the websites, apps, or software we were promoting were suitable for primary school age groups.  We could not afford to undermine or devalue our internet safety message we had been promoting at school and therefore it simply was not an option for us to promote or use platforms that our children were not legally allowed to be accessing, no matter how engaging or ‘on trend’ they currently were.

S –  To avoid overwhelming families and learners with numerous login details we tried to choose core apps and websites that linked to the Microsoft 365 Glow tenancy and allowed Glow login details to be used as a single sign-in such as Flipgrid, Hour of Code, Minecraft Edu, Book Creator and Thing Link.

Families would not want ‘hundreds’ of sign-in requirements, passwords and usernames to remember or sites to access and this would create a further barrier for some, therefore the benefit of using the Microsoft 365 login with Glow details was something we looked out for when deciding if we would try at app or use a website with our pupils.

Furthermore, it was not enough to simply give information to pupils of platforms to use without providing support on how to use them, we saw our role as teachers to educate not to signpost to other apps or websites. Therefore, we created a range of family ‘How to’ videos covering using Microsoft Teams, solving audio and video problems, uploading, and sharing files and using the collaboration space in Class Notebook; as discussed on a previous blog and we ensured that families knew that technical help was available if they needed it and that we were there to support them with the apps and websites we were recommending.

We accompanied this with guides showing the conversions from other curriculums to Scotland’s CfE that families may come across online and guides on reading, spelling and literacy for all CfE levels, along with narrated PowerPoints on supporting, challenging and extending learning at home from the resources we were providing. We felt this empowered families to make choices on suitable tasks for their children.

We are teachers, not ICT experts however we tried our best to support families using a Microsoft Forms technical help request – making phone calls, sending numerous emails, resetting passwords, and even having private live video calls with parents/carers to help them download apps or get resolve issues. We were able to solve all the issues that were presented to us and certainly this will be easier should we return to a blended learning approach, as we will have the luxury of discussing and demonstrating to the pupils in person in school.  

T – The digital world moves at a rapid pace and therefore timing is always going to be a consideration; there is a fine balance to be found on introducing a new app or website and weighing up the benefits to our learners from its introduction.  We ensured that we attended the CLPL events being offered by Education Scotland’s Digital teaching and learning Team including on Blended Learning, Digital Journals, Book Creator and Thing Link to understand what benefits each could bring and to then allow us to make informed assessments of them against our FAST digital strategy and the context of our school and learners.

To app or not to app, that was the question we found ourselves discussing in our weekly meetings and a question that we will continue to ask when introducing any digital technology to our school. The digital world will continue to grow, but as educators, our prime focus must always remain on the benefits to teaching and learning, not on using the latest technology.

Nevertheless, we did find that the digital skills of our pupils (and staff) were growing, they were accessing applications and websites that up until a few weeks prior they had never even heard of. For example, we found the time it was taking for responding to comments on Microsoft Team was decreasing, as typing skills improved.  

Finally, we are all aware of the wider issue of equity in regards to digital technology and working from home for learners, so it is our professional duty to ensure that we do not unintentionally widen this equity gap by promoting or using apps, websites, software or file formats that limit accessibility further, create additional barriers for families or are promoting apps not appropriate for the age groups we are working with. To app or not to app, we all need to choose carefully.

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/

References

Nicas, J. and Collins, K., 2019. How Apple’s Apps Topped Rivals In The App Store It Controls. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/09/technology/apple-app-store-competition.html#:~:text=More%20than%20two%20million%20apps%20are%20available%20on%20the%20App%20Store [Accessed 1 July 2020].

West Partnership, 2020. Effective remote and digital learning. [online] Glasgow City Region Education. Available at: https://sway.office.com/6JGDmi0rkRCzFVBN?ref=Link [Accessed 1 July 2020].