Category: Guest Bloggers

P6 Pupils at Noblehill Primary School are European Runners Up in the Microbit Do Your Bit Challenge

During Term 4 of last session, P6 pupils at Noblehill Primary School in Dumfries and Galloway took part in a Micro:Bit Global Challenge.  Their challenge was to design a ‘gadget’ which would support the work currently being undertaken  around the world to support climate change.  The pupils chose Verity, Lilly and Sophie’s design ‘Shell Cam’ as the winners and this was entered into a global competition.  Shell Cam was designed to be hidden somewhere on the beach and video all the different species that spent time there.  This information would then be sent back to scientists so they could track the movement and number of species. 

We have recently heard the amazing news that the design was chosen as runner up in Europe!!! 

3 learners holding microbits and design for do your bit project

The success has been posted on the Micro:Bit webpage along with the answers to a few questions that our amazing team had to give: 

How do you feel being runners-up in Europe?
– ‘Amazed, surprised, actually can’t believe it, it’s just WOW!’ 

Why did you choose to tackle the problem of animals becoming extinct?
– ‘A lot of animals are becoming extinct and food chains are being damaged so we wanted to think of a way to help.’ 

How long have you been using the micro:bit?
– ‘We have only used them 3 or 4 times but we loved them.’ 

 How has taking part in do your:bit inspired you?
– ‘We want to know more about what the Micro:Bits can do as well as help the environment.’ 

What will you create next?
– ‘Maybe a similar kind of thing but more for plants/ flowers, different types of nature.’ 

Well done team, Noblehill are very proud of you!
Lindsey Kirkwood, Principal Teacher, Noblehill Primary School

 

Using QR codes and ‘Thinglink’ for homework and resources – Early Years

Williamsburgh Primary School Using QR codes and ‘ThingLink’ for homework and resources, to encourage children to lead their learning, develop digital literacy skills, and overcome written communication barriers Aileen Mackey Early Learning and Childcare Officer gw17mackeyaileen@glow.sch.uk  Twitter @mackey_aileen

 

Click on link 👇

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/13wxuGHMd7e8vKcj7ytVJmJv82gEXiPewyt3FX2Uwj8U/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

Using QR codes creatively within Williamsburgh Primary School

The following link showcases how QR codes have been creatively used within our school in order to enhance children’s engagement in learning and play, improve digital literacy across the curriculum, overcome written communication and interpretation barriers, provide opportunities for vertical learning through interactive displays, and deliver a sustainable and efficient method for staff training, to enhance our service provision. Evaluation and feedback on the success of these strategies is also included within this blog post. 

Link to presentation – https://bit.ly/3l0oU3z

 

Using QR codes, videos and drone footage to enhance viewer engagement and experience of Nursery- P1 transition 2021, Aileen Mackey

At Williamsburgh Primary School we have used QR codes, videos and drone footage to enhance viewer engagement and experience of Nursery – P1 transition. By doing so we have  maintained our pedagogical approach, tailored our service delivery to the needs, interests and queries of children and families, encouraged children’s independence and digital literacy by accessing this information, and related theory from ‘Realising the Ambition: Being me’ (Education Scotland, 2020) to our practice. Examples of practice are featured within this post.

View the presentation here

Lenzie Meadow Primary School – HOW TO CREATE HIGHLY ENGAGING CONTENT Lisa Ann Tani

‘HOW TO CREATE HIGHLY ENGAGING CONTENT

Have you ever created a digital resource and felt that it was somewhat uninspiring?

It is easily done. We have all experienced “death by PowerPoint”.

ThingLink is a fabulous (and free) platform created by a Microsoft Gold Partner team which can be used to create highly engaging virtual classrooms, tours and even escape rooms.

Let’s dive in.

Example of primary one homework focusing on rhyme:

Our school’s Senior Leadership Team comprising of Sheona Allen (HT), Lorraine Donnelly (DHT) and Elaine Gardiner (DHT) have been successfully using ThingLink to create weekly virtual assemblies:

One of the most engaging aspects of ThingLink is the ability to create escape rooms. I recently finished developing an escape room for our primary two pupils focusing on internet safety when playing online games. Try it out for yourself:

Get started with ThingLink using the links below:

Tutorial Microsoft Educator Community

Try out ThingLink

 
 
 
 

Shetland Islands Council Q&A

Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team are always happy to provide their digital expertise and support to practitioners. In October 2020 the team took part in Shetland Islands Council’s two in-service days for practitioners, which for the first time were held on-line.  The DigiLearn team provided a wide range of sessions for staff on everything from digital pedagogy skills to unleashing creativity using digital tools.  In this Q&A Jacqueline Casey, Workforce Development Advisor at the time, and James Johnston, Quality Improvement Officer, from Shetland Islands Council, and Tracy Langley, Operational Lead For Remote Teaching for Shetland and Depute e-Sgoil, discuss the sessions.

 

Why are in-service days important for your staff?

 

The October In-service days are two dedicated days per year that are focussed on professional learning for our staff, therefore ensuring a varied yet appropriate programme for them each year is vital.  Usually our programme is planned and compiled based on the wants, needs and feedback from our frontline staff and management and also any national themes and focus at the time.  The opportunity for professional learning is very important for staff development and practice, and also contributes to staff being able to positively influence the lives and experiences of the children and young people they work with in Shetland.

 

  • This was the first time Shetland’s in-service Day has been held on-line. How did you find this compared to previous years?

 

At the start of COVID-19 we had started our planning, including contacting external trainers from across Britain on the premise that they would be physically visiting us in October.  So when we went into lockdown and realised eventually that it wasn’t going to be a short term thing, a quick decision had to be made as to if and how we were going to be able to deliver the programme.  It was decided that we would push on to try to organise a fully virtual programme, thinking that it would be far smaller than our usual offering.  We also decided on four themes to try to make things a bit more focussed – Health and Wellbeing (for pupils and staff), Digital Skills, Literacy and Numeracy.  These themes were decided both based on national themes but also on a reflection of what the year had been like for our staff, and where priorities had needed to shift so rapidly in response to COVID-19.

 

The actual programme itself went really well, and the feedback we got from our follow up survey was really positive.  We were delighted that we could provide such a large and varied programme and of course that the technology all worked on the day!

 

  • What topics were you looking for Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team to cover as part of the in-service days?

 

We have worked with Education Scotland for digital input for a few years now, and in conjunction with our Digital Skills Lead here in Shetland, to contribute to and build on our Digital Strategy.  So we were really happy to be guided by the digital team for our in-service programme – particularly where we were aware that remote teaching and learning had rocketed to the front focus of how teachers and pupils were now living and working.  We wanted this theme to be about the delivery of blended teaching and learning, but also about making the best use of the technology available to our staff.  Therefore the courses that Susan and her colleagues delivered were:

  • Flipped Learning to Support Blended / Mixed Delivery Model
  • Digital Tools for Assessment & Feedback
  • Digital Pedagogy Skills
  • Using Digital Tools to Capture, Create and Share Outdoor Learning Experiences
  • Unleashing Creativity Using Digital Tools

 

  • Why did you think these topics in particular would be of interest to practitioners?

The themes of literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing and digital are present in each year of the October In-Service programme but are usually supplemented by a broad range of other professional learning opportunities.  Central Officers, in conjunction with workforce development colleagues took the decision to narrow the focus in 2020 across these core areas in respect of the following considerations:

Manageability – in terms of the online nature of the programme and practitioners skills and knowledge to access learning from remote locations

Alignment – ensuring professional learning supported our strategic priorities with regards to recovery and renewal and reflected our local authority messaging around minimising the number of school improvement priorities

Relevance – understanding the needs of staff and learners and providing a meaningful and motivating programme to meet these needs

Capacity – giving consideration to teachers’ and practitioners’ own ability to consume and implement new learning in the context of the pandemic

Readiness – supporting staff to be confident in delivering within their school’s approach to blended and/or remote learning

The digital skills aspect of the programme stood out by itself but also supported innovation and creativity relevant to the other three areas.

  • How do you think practitioners will use the information provided in these sessions?

 

The October In-Service creates an opportunity to collectively ‘pause and upskill’ but is just one aspect of a cyclical, year round offer of high quality professional learning opportunities.  Teachers will use the learning in a number of ways depending on where they are at in their learning journey but broadly speaking the digital approach to professional learning is driving more engagement and collaboration:

 

Engagement Building on the success of approaches to remote learning in term four of 2020, sharing coursework and homework on digital platformsand engaging with pupils and parents in a more digitally agile way.  Monitoring learner engagement and participation and identifying where more support is required.

 

Collaboration – using digital platforms to collaborate at many levels.  For example, withinschools, across departments andlocal authorities as well as engagement at RIC level and participation in national conversations, regional improvement collaboratives and nationally.  The ability to share knowledge and practice with colleagues and gather insight and information from national partners has been strengthened.

 

  • Looking to the future – what digital topics do you think will be useful for your practitioners to learn about?

 

Practitioners will need time to embed new skills and ways of working and so the pace of change needs to be managed effectively.  It is important to create the right conditions to ensure that people feel confident, competent and supported in working in a digitally agile way.  We have paused the development of a digital and teaching strategy in order to understand and evaluate this period of rapid change and, given the period of significant change within the digital learning and teaching landscapesince March 2020 , revisit some of the consultation questions which were shaping the strategy prior to lockdown.  This will ensure we are moving in the right direction, investing our resources and time in the right way and building a digital education workforce where nobody is left behind.  In the meantime, for the remainder of this school year, we will take advantage of the range of professional learning opportunities to support our current position and listen to what our teachers need next.

Going forward digital skills training for the use of the Glow platform and Teams, SharePoint, PowerPoint, One Note Class Notebook and the Promethean interactive panels are to be made our standard offering. Our digital skills support package is updated throughout the year to direct all staff to these online courses which they can do at a time that suits them best. One off sessions delivered by Ian Stuart at Microsoft and the Education Scotland team can also be offered as and when needed throughout the year. These can complement each other and also allow for staff to revisit online courses andtutorials if needed.

 

Local authorities – if you would like advice or support from Education Scotland’s DigiLearn team please contact – Kirsty McFaul via email at Kirsty.McFaul@educationscotland.gov.scot

Aberdeenshire EAL Header

Aberdeenshire English as an Additional Language (EAL) Service

aberdeen council logoIn Aberdeenshire, our EAL teachers have been working to find the best ways to support bilingual learners and their families throughout the pandemic, as well as class teachers. If adapting to the challenges of the pandemic and online learning were not hard enough, many children and families have also faced the language barrier, as well as perhaps not being familiar with the Scottish Curriculum and routines and norms that may be taken for granted as something all children and families will think of as normal. Over the last year, our EAL teachers have embraced new ways of working and have developed a range of resources and approaches. Telephone interpreting used to be very rarely used but has now seen demand skyrocket with a lot of positive feedback on its effectiveness in breaking down the language barrier and building relationships between school and family. On several occasions schools have been able to speak to parents who they had not previously managed to reach, and as a result have managed to overcome some barriers that had prevented families from accessing online learning. EAL teachers have also been supporting bilingual learners by sharing advice and resources with class teachers, and also working with some pupils through video conferencing, including teaching SQA ESOL courses. The service has also produced translated comments and videos to support families who may be having difficulty in engaging with online learning.

 

 

Translated comments

A range of translated comments were develo­­­­­­ped to support home-school communication and have been used to communicate one way information to families, with comments being successfully used to overcome barriers to engagement:

 

“Aberdeenshire EAL Service covers a wide geographical area with a number of rural remote communities where our families can be distributed and which can pose communication challenges, particularly when schools are closed to most pupils during this time. One of my larger small town schools, that has a wide catchment area, have a family who were not responding to school information circulars and letters home. I sent the school the translated comments information which included a translation and the school came back and said they found it very useful and were discussing whether to send the translations out to other EAL families across the school.”

Sue Clutterbuck (EAL Teacher)

 

Translated Text Graphic

Telephone interpreting

Translated letters have also been developed to communicate to parents when the school would like to make a call and offer options that the parent can highlight for when they would be available. This has resulted in several calls with parents being arranged when the school had previously found it difficult to reach the parents.

 

“I supported a teacher in one of my schools in using the telephone interpreting service for the first time. By using the translated letters we had produced, parents were able to tell her when they would be free and she was able to call them and speak to them for the first time through an interpreter.”

Ian Brownlee (PT of EAL)

 

Our service has been strongly encouraging schools to use telephone interpreting and in general the feedback has been great (see examples of feedback in the picture below).

 

Telephone Interpreting Graphic

 

Translated Videos

We also worked in partnership with Aberdeenshire’s Learning Through Technology Team to develop translated videos that guide pupils/parents on how to log in to glow and how to use Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms. The videos were produced in the top five most common languages in Aberdeenshire and have been successfully used to support some families in overcoming barriers to accessing and engaging with online learning:

“They used the link, watched the video and it worked! Bingo. ️”

Sarah Jane Bennison (EAL Teacher)

“I sent the video on how to connect to google classrooms to 2 of the P1 teachers from one of my schools, I made sure they had a direct access to the video, so they didn’t have to look around for it. They sent the video to the parents of P1 pupils with little English, who had not been engaged and 1 child the following day was online and the other child the week after.”

Amanda Blackburn (EAL Teacher)

Colleagues in other local authorities have also  given positive feedback on the videos:

“Of course, we have also been signposting homes to the brilliant videos on the use of ICT/GLOW/Teams on the Aberdeenshire site!”

“I’ve watched the translated glow videos your service have made – they are amazing! Would you mind if I shared that link with some of our schools?; the teams one and logging into glow are so valuable right now.”

 

Translated Video Screen Shot

 

 

Some aspects of online learning and supporting pupils remotely have of course been challenging and we are continuing to try to find ways to support bilingual learners, their families and teachers through the continually evolving circumstances. However the above examples have been successes that we were really happy with and delighted to share.

Ian Brownlee

Principal Teacher of English as an Additional Language

Aberdeenshire EAL Service

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/