Category: Headteacher

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Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey Unfortunately, fortunate

Unfortunately, on Tuesday 17th March 2020 we were told that we were classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’ to Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions and would have to work from home for the next 12 weeks.

Fortunately, this gave us a unique opportunity to continue to make a valued contribution to our school community and on Wednesday 18th March 2020 we delivered our first ‘live lesson’ – a simple story and quiz for children who were also shielding at home.

This was to be the beginning of a journey into ‘remote learning’ for Mossend PS & NC in North Lanarkshire: a journey which would last 13 weeks and see our team deliver nearly 200 live lessons. These lessons ranged from Literacy, Numeracy & Mathematics to STEM & HWB as well as Weekly Challenges and Expressive Arts. We uploaded countless resources and actively engaged with pupils across all stages.

From the offset, we met virtually to plan our strategy which revolved around 4 key principles ‘FAST, which became our strategy.

Flexibility
This was an unprecedented set of circumstances and we decided from the beginning that our approach had to be flexible. There would be some families who would benefit from a structure and routine, others who would need resources for their own time and others who would do their own thing. All of this was fine, but as a school, we needed to be there to support all our families with the path they chose. Our Motto became, ‘Do what works for you!’

Accessible
This would be key to engaging learners, families and staff who were operating a wide range of devices and operating systems and had a wide range of ICT skills between them. Passwords, logins, applications, file formats all had to be assessed against this principle.

Supportive
Parents and carers were about to become the ‘teacher’. Our role needed to adapt to facilitate learning remotely in a supportive manner that empowered and reassured families. Communication needed to be at the heart of this.

Timely
This was a fast changing landscape and therefore for us to support our learners in the best way possible decisions had to be made in a timely manner and we had to ensure we continue to look ahead to stay ahead. We met virtually twice per week to discuss digital learning, adapt, and change our approach.

We are very aware that we ended up in the unfortunately fortunate position of being able to get ‘ahead of the game’ and plan a strategy for remote learning suited for our own context. We understand that this may not have been possible for the vast majority, however, we hope that by sharing our experience others will be able to see where elements could fit into their own context and help build confidence and sustainability as we move forward into unchartered territory in learning and teaching.

Over the next 8 weeks we plan to blog in more detail about some of the decisions we made for digital learning at Mossend Primary School and Nursery Class:

team mossend blog post header Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey – Team Mossend - At the beginning of Lockdown, John Swinney stated that schools should, ‘respond in a variety…
mossend FAST remote learning strategy Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey – Every day is a school day - The role of the teacher is forever evolving. We work in a complex and dynamic…
mossend blended approach Mossend Primary School – Remote Learning Journey Lights, Camera, Action! Sustaining Engagement - “Today's young people should be taught using video games because they have ‘much lower attention…
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…
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…

Coming Soon
9th August – Self Assessment with HGIOS4.
16th August – Blended learning next session.

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/

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Parent and Community Engagement during ‘Lockdown’

I have always viewed Dalintober PS & ELC as a ‘community’ school, in its truest sense.   Our commitment to ensuring that we actively communicate with parents and partners and include them in our curriculum and social planning and implementation is essential to our schools’ & ELC ethos.   This has grown to include the second school that I recently became Head Teacher of – Glenbarr PS.

We have always had very solid foundations and relationships with our parents and communities, but I can truly say that the ‘lockdown’ period has only strengthened these connections.   Engagement and discussion has been a constant feature of our overall strategy during lockdown.

We had intended to investigate Google Classrooms as part of our 3 year School Improvement Plan – but ‘lockdown’ certainly expedited this!   The commitment and energy of staff, pupils and parents in taking forward our new digital learning systems has been, quite simply, outstanding.   We have worked together to find ways to offer devices and support, including phone consultations – and with the help of partner agencies in the Children & Families Team and the Kintyre Community Resilience Group.

We have very successful school Facebook Pages, including a closed ELC Parent/Carer & Staff Group, and these have continued to be the main vehicle in recognising and celebrating achievements, sharing good news stories and information.   Parents are incredibly supportive of our social media pages and there are lovely interactions on a daily basis.   We have ensured that we have a ‘virtual’ final term, keeping many of the events and activities that would normally occur at this point in the school year – this has included ‘Virtual’ Assemblies, ‘Virtual’ School Photo Day, ‘Virtual’ Sports Day, ‘Virtual’ School Trips  and Music Festival Week and on-going transition activities.  Posting and sharing photos, as we normally would, has helped us maintain a positive and feel-good link with the community and parents at this unprecedented time.

We have also continued to work alongside local partners and businesses – this has included Shopper-Aide, the Great Lockdown Quarantine Quiz, Roots of Empathy, and Glen Scotia & Springbank Distilleries and may others – including upcoming interviews with ‘noted Campbeltonians’ such as best-selling author, Denzil Meyrick and musician/composer, Lorne MacDougall.

I very much believe in being open, honest and approachable to parents and the school communities.   There is nothing more powerful than human connection and maintaining that connection ‘virtually’ has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of my working week – both prior to, and during lockdown.

Our school buildings may be closed; but our schools’ & ELC ethos continue to thrive.

We thank everyone involved in helping us achieve and sustain this.

 

Caroline Armour

Head Teacher

Dalintober PS & ELC and Glenbarr PS

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Craigie High School’s Digital Journey during Lockdown

 

Craigie High School’s Digital Journey During Covid-19 Lockdown

Before Covid-19, Craigie High School was looking to improve digital engagement for both pupils and staff. We werein the process of self-evaluating and looking to work through the Digital School’s award just as Covid-19 closed our schools. We had created a Digital Teacher Learning Community and set up the Twitter page @digilearnchs in order to showcase examples of high-quality digital learning and teaching in our school. If we can take any positives from lockdown, it is that Craigie Staff have gone above and beyond to improve their digital skills at home. We are looking forward to returning to school and continuing on our journey to become a Digital School. We are definitely much further forward than we were in March!

At Craigie High School staff have found many creative ways to engage pupils remotely.

Many departments have set up individual class teams on Microsoft Teams, allowing them to access resources and talk to staff directly. Many departments make use of the assignments tool to track pupil engagement and mark homework this way. We also have whole year teams, where pupils are given more generic resources and information. This has allowed for a more collaborative approach from staff and sharing of good practice. This can also be seen on our Whole School Staff Support Team.

Online Support Hub

Resources have also been added to our Craigie Online Learning Hub for pupils who may have trouble accessing Teams or may prefer a different format. This is a public facing website which has information for both parents and pupils on how to support learning for home. This directs pupils to information about lost passwords etc, and has links to lots of useful revision websites and fun learning tools. This also has information for pupils and parents about how to cope with learning from home and some information about the importance of Health and Wellbeing at such a time.

Twitter

Craigie also continues to use Twitter effectively. Our whole school Twitter page keeps parents updated with all important information, as well as retweeting information from partner agencies and individual school departments,. Each department has their own twitter account and has been sending out many encouraging and positive comments along with essential information for parents and pupils.

The Art department, for example, have set up a 30 day Drawing challenge and tweet examples of excellent work from very talented pupils.

 

In Home Economics, pupils have been given lots of resources to learn practical life skills at home. There have even been differentiated lesson plans sent out for pupils to work on catering for their different dietary requirements. They have also used their Twitter to share examples of pupils finished recipes.

The Science departments continue to share many different exciting videos and resources for pupils. The Biology Department have set milk and volcano home experiments for pupils and a spring photography challenge. They have been sharing excellent examples of home learning from pupils on twitter.

Pupils have been making use of One Note in Science. They have made a poster about an animal and its habitat/diet etc using a rubric attached to their assignment in Teams. Some have done this digitally and uploaded it, others on paper. They’re all uploaded to their pages of our class notebook.

They have also been completing class work through OneNote, including an experiment setting up a pitfall trap and counting and identifying the insects they trapped the next day.

 

 

School Videos

Our lovely Support for Learning Dept sent out a video message on twitter to allow pupils to see a friendly face. We are currently working on a Prizegiving congratulations message and a staff wellbeing video.

Music and Drama

Our Instrumental service has set up teams groups for all instrumental pupils, they have access to video lessons, sheet music, discussions etc. Mrs Mackay has have delivered instruments and music to around 25 kids. Some of our pupils are performing outside at 8pm on a Thursday night, over the rainbow on 28th April drew a lot of participation and engagement. Our seniors are currently working on a music video which will go out in a few days. Drama pupils are engaging with the National Theatre online resources which are brilliant. Pupils have also engaged with creating online performance videos which have been edited together by one our wonderful music instructor, Mr Nicoll.

 

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RMPS

Unfortunately, the RMPS dept did not get the chance to take part in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative before the school closure. However, a ‘Your Community Fund’ challenge has been launched by the Wood Foundation. Our RMPS dept are working with pupils to create presentations explaining the reasons for donating money to a local Dundee Charity. S3 (new) have been set the task the task of writing a letter to someone they find inspirational. For example, they are able to choose to write to a key worker or even someone in their family. The returns have ranged from writing to a nurse at Ninewells hospital thanking them for their hard work and also a beautiful letter to a Gran who is also a care worker who has to come home and look after Grandad who is ill. I’ve been encouraging these pupils to actually send their letters of appreciation on.

Also for June, pupils in the BGE are going to be set this RMPS Superstar challenge.

Office 365 Tools

We have also been making use of Microsoft Forms and Insights on Teams to monitor pupil engagement and check for understanding. We have also been using other Office 365 tools through glow such as Sway to try and encourage digital literacy in our pupils.

 

 

Some staff have been providing live online lessons through Teams, whilst others have been videoing themselves teaching and uploading these to onedrive for pupils to access.

Online Classrooms

Staff have also created Online Interactive Classrooms. These have been updated with links to work, and sites along with showcasing pupil work. They look amazing!

And so much more…

Our Duke of Edinburgh candidates are still being supported remotely too, with teachers sending links and advice to help pupils to continue their award through challenging times.

Staff have also been working on continuing their professional development, and the introduction of a Craigie High Quality Learning and Teaching webpage is helping staff to consider new ways of teaching on their return to the classroom. They have also been attending Dundee City Council Online Digital Support Webinars. Finally, our amazing Parental Support Officer has delivered over 130 learning packs to pupils. She is joined by PTG’s PSWLAC and PTSFL in making weekly calls to pupils and their families. Food parcels are also organised on a daily basis for our families through other foodbank agencies.

 Twitter : @craigie_high and @digilearnchs

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Movie Makers at Banchory Primary

Like everyone with recent events we were thrust into a new way of delivering learning.  Normally at this time of the year Primary 7 are asked to prepare a short speech on a project of their choice.  The pupils are then asked to present these to their class, the selected pupils then present to the whole school before going forward to the cluster final in which they deliver their speeches to a judging panel.

The pupils were asked to continue with the project using the skills which had been taught previously in school, the pupils use iMovie, Do Ink Green Screen, GarageBand and clips to create their speeches.

This is one example of a Student Speech that was submitted. This student created a script, got into character, filmed himself in front of a green screen and then edited the video. I am sure you will agree the content is excellent and the theme for the video has made the video extra special.

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Let’s all “Meet” up – in a virtual learning environment

Our school community are, on the whole, fairly confident and upbeat just now. To understand why I receive such positive views from across the parents, pupils and staff, I have to give a bit of background “pre-Covid”. Argyll and Bute Council have a great IT Team that have been promoting the use of G-Suite (Google Apps through Glow) for a few years now. We in Oban High School had a number of really enthusiastic staff who saw the potential of Google, ran with the training and led peer CLPL.

Around the same time we built a new school and added a Promethean Board to every classroom and gave every teacher an iPad, which they were trained to use alongside the Google Apps. This led to an explosion of online learning via Google Classroom.

The necessity to use the new technology and Google apps, along with regular training, ensured some of our staff were ready for the next step on our journey: live learning and teaching between two schools. As I lead both Oban and Tiree High Schools, it was fairly easy to merge the timetables to allow for the delivery of live lessons to and from each school. This increased the level of subject choice available to senior pupils and ensured effective leadership across the sea; consistent curriculum development and a wealth of shared CLPL.

Admin; Art; Biology; Business Management; Computing; Computer Games Design; Geography; Music Technology; Physics; and PE. Yes, PE! Theses subjects have all been delivered between our schools as part of the merged timetable or, as in the case of PE, to cover a staffing issue.

How does it work? Well, the experience gained by staff in Oban as a result of the introduction of the new technology and mainstream use of G-Suite certainly helped reduce much apprehension. All our teachers were used to setting up and using Google Classrooms (GCs), how to uploading assignments, marking work and conversing through GCs. Colleagues were used to creating Google Docs, Slides or Sheets and to saving and organising onto Google Drive. The only add-on was the move to live learning through Google Meet.

The  “new normal” our teachers faced was that some of the children’s smiling faces were now on a screen; their voices on a speaker. A class is still a class though. The exposition, the tasks, the Q&A and the plenaries are all shared experiences. When doing group work, the Tiree pupils can join an Oban group on the screen using a smaller speaker or vice versa. When they wish to ask a question, the teacher responds one-to-one over their headset. The cameras and screens allow the teacher to see every child in their (expanded) class at all times.

Concern with anything new is natural; safeguarding is a must. To begin with, we only used this with S4-6 classes. No class can exceed its SNCT maximum. IT support is on tap; a line manager is only a call away in the event of a behavioural issue; the office for a medical issue. We have now expanded this across the whole school at our teachers’ request.

What makes it work?

  • Investment by the Local Authority.
  • A core of experienced staff, keen to support colleagues and provide on-going training.
  • The purchase of good cameras, teacher headsets and pupil speakers to capture the whole class “look and feel” to make the pupils in the remote location feel genuinely part of the class.
  • The consistent and coherent use of one software suite of Apps: Google or Microsoft,
  • A safeguarding protocol to give confidence to staff engaging in live delivery.
  • Pupil buy-in – achieved by capturing the essence and experience of being in a larger traditional class environment, leading to an increased feeling of belonging to that class.

Learning and teaching from home has proved remarkably similar to what we already deliver, with the caveat that it has still been a very steep learning curve. The key difference is the need for safeguarding guidance to both staff and pupils; and a relaxation of accepted norms. We must be professional at all times in the way in which we interact with our pupils; we must have support in place for when the rules are not followed and we must keep stressing  that we’re all in a “class” when on online… but we also have to accept our four-legged friends may still appear on screen at times.

Equity for children? A recurring theme in this discussion but just as important for our staff. If there is not a device available or there are not enough devices in the home, every child, and every member of staff, is given an iPad, Chromebook and/or data Dongle. IT support is available to ensure every child can access the devices; teachers take children through getting onto Glow, Google Classroom or how to use any of the Apps. Each child is in a Clan (House system) and a pastoral team member liaises weekly with every vulnerable family or any pupil or parent who asks for help. We do Welfare and Engagement checks weekly. Those not engaging receive a call or a visit to the house where we offer pastoral, IT or curricular support for those who are reluctant to ask but need support; whether online, over the phone or on the door step – two meters distant. We’re here to help.

Delivering a virtual learning experience is not easy for anyone but it will get easier. As each day goes by we learn from our experiences and accept that change is good; or at least necessary. The “new normal” of remote learning in the future will not be new; just normal: the normality a consequence of us investing in both technology; from supporting and training our colleagues; and from teaching our children well in whatever manner we can. It works now; it will work even better with practice.

All support materials are uploaded and shared on the school website below,

http://www.obanhigh.argyll-bute.sch.uk/

 

 

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P1 Transition Support, Strathburn School, Aberdeenshire

 

We have used a variety of technology to support Transition for our new Primary 1 pupils.See-Saw Screen shot

 

See-Saw Screen Shot

We obtained Seesaw consent using Microsoft Forms, set up a P1 Transition group using avatar names and invited all new parents to it. Through this group we have uploaded puppet pal videos which include a school tour, delivered parental sessions on emergent literacy using sway, allowed P6 pupils to read out letters they have written to P1, used QR codes to create a treasure hunt round the school building that pupils can carry out over the Summer period as part of their daily walk, started to introduce HWB aspects of the curriculum to pupils via video and used the forum for sharing messages, introducing staff and ensuring parents/carers receive regular up to
date messages about plans and next steps. We are also considering using home learning codes to allow pupils to upload pictures of any transition work they might have done to begin engagement with them.

Sock Puppets Video

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Remote Learning, Strathburn School, Aberdeenshire

 

 

Literacy – reading

I am currently supporting a probationer and we are continuing our observations and meetings As part of her GTC profile. She has been using seesaw to create a fantastic online learning platform for her class however as part of this is also using TEAMS to meet groups of her children to teach Numeracy concepts to small groups or carry out Literacy Tasks.

Today I was invited to participate in a Microsoft TEAM meeting as an observer and was blown away by seven and eight year olds in a TEAM meet. The teacher was sharing her screen so all children had access to a shared text which they could read, discuss, and answer questions on. The children were safe, comfortable within the learning environment that the teacher has established and responded well to their teacher using technology effectively as they muted and turned on the microphone as required when it was their turn to read. I have been an advocate of Glow for many years and am delighted to finally witnessing it being used to its full potential!

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Digital Registers at Mearns Primary, East Renfrewshire

Digital Registers at Mearns Primary

Our class teachers set a question on the assignment tab asking if the pupil is present or not. This allows the SMT team to easily see who has engaged with the learning that day and who has not. 

They followed this guide made up by one of our teachers:

Members of SMT take this information and complete this Google Sheet for each classroom. 

 

This form is set up to provide an overview of the school statistics and percentages of pupils completing the digital registers. We then use this information to contact pupils who have not been engaging and see if there is any reason for this and if we can provide support. 

 

 

Google Forms for Hub Provision 

We have been using Google Forms to allow parents & carers to communicate what pupils require provision in the hub and for which days they require this. We use that information to populate a Google Sheet which we use for our daily register. It provides our office staff with the information they require for FileMaker. 

Similar to the digital registers, our hub daily register generates statistics which we use for our records. 

Gauging Engagement at Our Lady of the Missions Primary, East Renfrewshire

Using Google Classroom Data to Gauge Engagement  

Each class uses Google Classroom as the vehicle to support learning and teaching. The teachers set up a ‘task chart’ of activities as an introduction each Monday. Children and families have the flexibility to complete lessons and assessment across the week to suit their individual circumstances. A ‘learning log’ is then completed by each child to reflect the ‘task chart’ contents. This ‘learning log’ is a Microsoft Form which provides a useful report for teachers and SMT to analyse in terms of planning for the following week and Google Classroom engagement. 

Any children who have not engaged are then flagged up to SMT. This will entail a cross-reference with a school Google Classroom usage report which we receive weekly from our Google Classroom Administrator showing who has logged in and the volume of activity for each child in the school.  

Class teachers are consulted by SMT and a decision is then made to contact those families via Groupcall – a generic ‘We’ve noticed your child has had minimal engagement with their Google Classroom content this week. Please contact the school if there is anything we can do to support…’ type communication. For the most part, this is sufficient for the families to re-engage or let the school know in which ways they require support.  

The next level up of contact would be a phone call from a member of the SMT. This personal touch is sometimes necessary and beneficial to reassure families and agree a more personalised support strategy for their child. The use of the ‘learning log data’ ensures a weekly touching base with all departments, stages and classes to allow us to target support and assistance for our school community. 

 

Our Lady of the Missions have also created these handy guides for adults to help learners access Classroom:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/er/OurLadyMissions/parental-involvement/parents-2/ 

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/er/public/OurLadyMissions/uploads/sites/96/2020/05/12161644/Google-Classroom-Help-Guide1.pdf 

Digital Self Evaluation Wheel

School Digital Self Evaluation

Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland : The Role of our Education Establishments

A resource for education establishments to self evaluate in terms of the 4 aims on the strategy:

  • Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.
  • Improve access to digital technology for all learners.
  • Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.
  • Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for teaching and learning.

The word file can be printed an written on.

The excel file will allow you to fill this in electroncally.