Category: Health and Well Being

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  Twitter @mackey_aileen


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Webinar catch up: Technology Tools for Complex Needs with CALL Scotland.

This webinar was delivered by Claire Harrison from CALL Scotland, for education staff who are supporting learners with Complex Needs within an early years/primary context, on 20th April 2021.

This session demonstrated how simple to use, free digital tools can be used to create activities for learning and communication. We explored how these tools can be used to create learning experiences which support the development of Anticipation, Early Communication, Cause & Effect and Emergent Literacy & Numeracy. All of the digital tools covered are free to use and easy to share with families.

The technology tools covered in this session included TarHeel Gameplay, Google Slides/PowerPoint, Google Forms/Microsoft Forms, Google Jamboard and Thinglink.

You can access a PDF version of the slides here:



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30 November 2020, 16:00 – 16:45 Code Club H&WB and Environmental learning resources

A Glow Login is required to join this webinar. This webinar will take place on Glow, Education Scotland Digital Teams channel.

Join Dr. Lorna Gibson, Programme Manager, Code Club, while she shares new resources available for practitioners using coding to explore the environment, health and wellbeing, and more. Project demonstrations plus opportunity for questions.

Register here

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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.


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.




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

Spotlight on: Supporting our Families, Young Children and Staff Digitally.

Bathgate Early Years Centre, West Lothian, has always demonstrated a strong supportive ethos for our families, young children and staff. We have aimed to continue this during this uncertain time. One of the essential focuses has been mental wellness; we created this Mental Health Awareness Sway as a reference point for anyone who may need ideas to help regulate emotions and feelings for themselves or children and access helplines or websites for support. This is continually being updated each week.

We communicate regularly with parents/carers through the Online Learning Journal message feature where we provide the opportunity for a chat and suggest try at-home activities to help keep the children busy and active.  Staff members regularly film themselves reading their favourite stories to the children ensuring the children are still seeing our familiar faces and hearing our voices. We then document these activities through our Glow blog and Twitter account @WLBEYC.

Our young children have always been co-creators of the learning in our Early Learning and Childcare Setting and during this time it has been no different. Following learning from home we currently have a Planting & Growing Project Sway and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sway. These are filled with activities set from staff members and also include lots of fantastic input from our families.

Bathgate Early Years Centre was awarded a Digital Schools Award a few years ago now, and our digital journey is constantly adapting and changing.  During this time our staff team have really supported one another to adapt to working from home. We discuss and communicate every day using Microsoft teams and have weekly meetings using the video call feature. Digital Technology really has brought us all together and we are continually working together to support every staff member develop their digital thinking and skills.

West Lothian Digital Learning Team are always on hand to support us and regularly share practice using their Twitter account @wldigilearn,  and via Yammer and the WL Digi Learn SharePoint.


twitter: @Taylor_BEYC

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Learning at Home with Troqueer Primary School, Dumfries and Galloway

by Cathy Mackenzie, Acting Depute Head Teacher and P6/7 Class Teacher

This video demonstrates Troqueer Primary School’s approach to using Microsoft Teams to support learning at home. Troqueer Primary School have used Microsoft Teams alongside other communication methods, such as our school website and the ‘ConnectUs’ school app, to support children to learn at home. A sustainable model was developed in which the school, which has 10 classes and a Nursery class, was split into 3 large cohort teams with groups of teachers supporting learners. The Nursery staff support learners through their Learning Journals app.

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Every week staff work together to create a weekly learning grid for each cohort Teams group across P1-P3, P4-P5 and P6-P7. This has enabled collaborative working across the school whilst also taking account of the varied roles staff are undertaking, including supporting childcare in hubs. We have made use of other Office365features, including Microsoft Forms, within some of the learning grids. The weekly learning grids encourage children to take part in activities that support wellbeing, life-skills and independence alongside their curricular tasks. A group of staff have collaborated to create whole school interdisciplinary learning activities that are progressive and engaging, linked to a theme of habitats, followed by food. A whole-school learning context was adopted to help families that might have children learning at home across different age groups to learn together. These grids are posted on the school app, website and Microsoft Teams. Children are encouraged to share their learning or ask questions about their work on the weekly learning grid channel on Microsoft Teams.

Wellbeing and supporting interaction between learners and staff has been a major focus of our approach. We have created a range of welcome videos which are frequently shared on our school app and Microsoft Teams. We have also developed other videos to enable learners to see their teachers, such as story videos for younger learners and a series of ‘Around the World’ videos for P4-P7. The playground blether channel enables learners to chat online in a safe environment which is monitored by staff. There are several live chats each week and we are starting to include the use of audio features for these. Children can come along to these to take part in fun discussion tasks, quizzes and other activities with their teachers and peers.



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CALL Scotland’s Shirley Lawson shines the spotlight on iPad Accessibility

The iPad is a popular, cool portable tablet which is commonly used to watch videos, play games and for social media.  In recent days, the use of this device has been increased to include more use of FaceTime and Zoom for keeping in touch with family and friends.  But what about for educational purposes?  The iPad has a range of very good in-built accessibility features that can support young people with additional support needs who will currently be at home accessing Google Classroom or One Note Class Notebook for school work their teachers have set for them.

What could be useful?

If you learn better when you can hear what you are reading or writing, features like Speak Screen, Speak Selection, Typing Feedback and Predictive Text can help by adding an auditory component to text.

Use Speak Selection to highlight the specific range of text you want to hear or activate Speak Screen by flicking down from the top of the screen with two fingers to have all the content on pages read back to you. This action can be tricky for some so you can now turn on the new Speech Controller which provides a Speak Under Finger feature for more precise control.


With Speak Selection and Speak Screen options, highlighted words, sentences or words within each sentence are read aloud which greatly enhances the reading experience for someone with literacy challenges and negates the need for them to solely focus on decoding the words.  And with Typing Feedback activated, each letter you type on the keyboard is spoken aloud as well. You can also use Predictive Text, which suggests word options that you can listen to and choose from to get help with spelling.


Reading a website

Craig, age 10, is an avid collector of fossils and he likes to look up information on the web but finds some websites can have an overwhelming amount of information displayed erratically in side bars and quotes making the body of the text hard to access.

On the left hand side of the URL address bar there are two AAs which will give you the option to Show Reader View.  Once his teacher showed him how to use Reader view he had a whole new reading experience; he loved the clear interface and combined with Speak Selection or Speak Screen was able to access information independently.  It should be noted that not every website offers this Reader view; it will depend how text heavy the site is.


Normal web view                                                                               Using Reader View




Another good accessibility feature is aimed at people who experience visual discomfort or stress when reading text on a screen.  Switching on Colour Filters gives an inbuilt colour ‘overlay’ for the iPad screen which will remain for whatever application you are in until you switch it off.

Open the Settings app, then tap Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Colour Filters. You’ll see three examples of colour spaces to help you select an option that fits your needs. Swipe left or right on the examples to find a filter that works best for you.


CALL Scotland have a great infographic on the above accessibility features and many others too which will support someone with dyslexia / literacy challenges.  You can download it for free from our website:  Using the iPad to support dyslexia

What about young people with more complex physical disabilities? What accessibility features are offered?  I worked last term with a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who had restricted movements with her upper limbs but was not keen on getting the Pupil Support Assistant to do everything for her.  She wanted to put the volume up and down, to use Speak Screen and to be able to take a screen shot but each of these actions required fine motor skills which she did not have.

By activating Assistive Touch in Settings and adding in the required functions she was then able to independently carry out the actions by touching the icon on the screen with her knuckle. She was delighted!

CALL Scotland can provide Professional Learning to any teachers who want to learn more about the accessibility features of the iPad to support their pupils with additional support needs.  Please contact to discuss your training requirements.

I have only mentioned a handful in this blog but this website is well worth a look to find out all of  Apple’s accessibility features. The use of assistive technology can be life changing for pupils with additional support needs and we need to raise awareness of what is possible on all devices.

For more information you can visit CALL Scotland’s website and you can also sign up for their newsletter here:

Other links that may be of interest:

CALL Scotland Are your learning resources accessible?

Edinburgh University Making the most of inclusive technology during Covid-19



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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,



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Try it out Tuesday is back.

Starting from today, we are releasing a #tryitouttuesday health and wellbeing, digital challenge. Each challenge will have activity options to suit beginners, through to advanced and extended challenges. The challenges can be done at home and an array of supporting resource links are included in this Sway. A short video to explain the challenges and to encourage learners to take part will be released each fortnight from Tuesday 19th May. The Sway is a planning suggestion for teachers/practitioners.


Challenge 1
Tuesday 19th May 2020

Cyber Security Researcher

Challenge 2
Tuesday 2nd June 2020

Are you puffed out? Design a physical exercise algorithm – Computing Science Challenge (Robotics Engineer).

Challenge 3
Tuesday 16th June 2020

Can you hear it? Environmental sounds story – capture and create audio challenge. (Content Designer).

This Sway is a planning suggestion for teachers/practitioners full of resource links to support each challenge.

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A Selfie in Isolation! North West Community Campus, Dumfries and Galloway

A Selfie in Isolation

by Jamie McKie, Primary Teacher from North West Community Campus in Dumfries and Galloway.

A Selfie in Isolation, an activity shared by Nicola Orr (@MrsOrrCPS) on Twitter has been used many times by teachers across the country.  Her resources can her found here.

Due to everyone being in lockdown, we’re experiencing home-schooling, coming together as a community and a whole bunch of emotions too! The children gave themselves something to look back on by taking a ‘selfie in isolation’. This could be completed as a family, with a pet or on your own – completely their choice!

To complete this activity, the children had to download the template and then insert appropriate sized text boxes to include information underneath the sub-headings and upload a selfie in the middle. The pupils were encouraged to be creative with font, size and colour. The result and engagement from learners towards this task was very positive and rewarding, I’m sure you’ll agree.