Kinneil Primary School in Bo’ness have shared with us their distance learning experience over the school building closure period. This Sway outlines their use Teams, Twitter, Sumdog and Big Maths across the school, from P1 to P7, to deliver curricular content and wider school experiences such as assemblies and choir.
At Deanburn Primary, we have developed our use of digital learning platforms throughout the period of school closure. We have worked together as a team to develop new and exciting ways to connect with our pupils and their families, and to support them in navigating Microsoft Teams as a new ‘classroom’. We have been able to consolidate key learning through a number of ways but have also enjoyed introducing concepts and capturing the unique learning of our pupils.
All of our staff, our Senior Leadership Team, Teaching Staff, and Support For Learning Staff have maintained regular contact with our children and have engaged in the wide range of approaches shared – it has been a journey!
Please take a look at the sway produced by Deanburn Primary School which provides an overview, and examples of how they have used the Office 365 tools within Glow, use of video and social media for learning and collaboration.
DGS Virtual University and College Showcase. On Wednesday 10th June, 15 Universities, Colleges and Organisations from across Scotland delivered virtual presentations with q&a’s to young people and families across Argyll & Bute. This was done in 1/2 hour slots throughout the day via 6 digital platforms; MicrosoftTeams, Adobe Connect, Zoom, Blackboard, WebEx and Youtube. Pupils were added to a Google Classroom via their Glow accounts where they could access the links as well as other valuable information regarding UCAS. For families or recent school leavers who didn’t have access to Glow, we made the links available on our school website. We used our school and Skills Development Scotland social media platforms to promote the event. For a number of sessions, we had over 90 participants which was a fantastic level of engagement from the young people of Argyll & Bute. We had double figures engagement for every session, averaging 50-60 participants. A number of institutions recognised that we were the first school in Scotland to enquire about a Virtual Showcase to school pupils, something that many of the Universities and Colleges had never done before. The day ran extremely smoothly, with every session being successfully delivered via their technologies and chosen platforms. A number also agreed to record their sessions and allow us to post in our Google classroom for regular access. Institutions who could not deliver on the day, have contacted us and sent over recordings which we again can publish. Overall, it was a fantastic experience the see the extremely high level of engagement from young people in an authority that covers a large geographical area connect with so many Universities, Colleges and Organisations that wouldn’t be able to deliver in the current climate face to face. Through technology, we were able to deliver our originally planned physical showcase in the school building and deliver it on a larger scale with increased levels of engagement from young people and institutions.
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.
After receiving CLPL funding from the Education Scotland STEM Nation grant this year, training was offered across the Islay cluster in digital skills. One of the key developments implemented in Port Ellen and Bowmore primary was to train staff in the use of Seesaw as a digital PLP tool to replace cumbersome and time–consuming learning logs.Under a joint headship both schools decided to invest in the paid for Seesaw for school’s version of the App. This version allowed us to have continuity of progression throughout a child’s time in school and also to track the Es and Os across subjects with its skills tracking tool. It was great to be able to include video, audio and photos into a body of evidence for achievement across a level, as well as comments and feedback from teachers and students on their learning and next steps. And parents had access to their children’s learning through the family app and could leave comments as well.
Then Coronavirushappened and schools were going to close. We quickly handed out home learning codes to pupils and parents and got them to download the class app at home, enabling them to continue their learning remotely. Ipads were provided for families without technology. Suddenly Seesaw was not just a PLP, but a home learning tool, one that could be used by children from ELC to P7 to learn remotely.
Teachers from P1 up plan and provide a weekly grid of learning activities for pupils to work with that have a good balance across literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing, STEAM and other curricular areas;the emphasis is on spending as much learning time offline as on a device, by taking advantage of our fantastic environment here on Islay. We have seen some examples of truly outstanding pupil learning happening at home and share it on our Twitter feeds. We even had a retweet from NASA for one of our rocket building STEAM activities!
Pupil engagement is something we have worked hard to maintain in the move to remote learning. One of the key benefits of Seesaw is the ability to track engagement across the school; school admins can access a spreadsheet each week that shows how often children have posted and which activities have been completed, so we can quickly identify children whose engagement suddenly falls off and intervene. Staff have regular Google Meet discussions where they share their personal success stories with engagement; we quickly realised that regular video messages from teachers and audio feedback helped engagement- one parent said it was like having the teacher in their home. This is particularly successful with early years. Staff have also developed their digital skills to improve engagement, with some creating virtual Classrooms using Google slides and personalised Bitmojis. Here children can click on items in the class to link them to a video message from their teacher, a learning activity, video or document online. We have also used physical means to engage; early years sent sunflower seeds through the post for their children to plant. Finally, we share successful learning stories that aim to inspire other learners through shared Seesaw posts to all the students and parents, Seesaw blogs and Twitter.
When there are issues with engagement, we have implemented a variety of measures to help. We send encouraging messages to parents and pupils, have made phone calls home and have provided Ipads and dongles where needed so access is not a barrier. For some parents physical materials in the form of textbooks and worksheets have provided extra support that makes them less anxious. One of our key aims once schools are back is to find a way to provide more extensive training for parents so they are more confident in what will be a model of blended learning. All of the school community are glad that we chose to implement Seesaw in schools before the crisis, a versatile tool that has helped us continue to engage children and support them and their families at this time.
As we move into this next stage of teaching during lock down and coming out of lock down it’s really important that we make the correct decision. In the Scottish Government’s reopening Schools guide as well as Local Government guidelines we have seen the term blended learning being talked about. What does this mean? We know that blended learning means that it uses a number of different pedagogical approaches including distance learning and prudential learning but what else does it incorporate?
Blended learning is a generic term given to a number of different approaches involved in synchronous and asynchronous teaching using online tools as well as being present in a classroom. This can have a number of different names and approaches:
Rotational learning, flexible learning and flipped learning or the flipped classroom.
Rotational / blended learning is a: “…model (that) allows students to rotate through stations on a fixed timetable, where at least one of the stations is an online learning station. This model is most commonly in primary schools because teachers are already familiar with rotating in centres and stations.
The ‘Flex blended learning’ is included in types of Blended Learning and its model is one in which… “a course or curriculum area in which online learning is the backbone of pupil learning, even if it directs pupils to offline activities at times. Pupils move on an individually customized, ﬂuid timetable among learning modalities. One teacher is on-site, and students learn mostly in their school classroom, except for any homework assignments. The teacher or other adults provide face-to-face support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through activities such as small-group instruction, group projects, and individual tutoring.”
A flipped classroom is a type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home and practice working through it at school.
It is important to understand the stages of Flipped learning and that activities that are accrued out at home are clearly and concisely linked to activities in the classroom.
We we think of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy might would immediately think of the the standard triangle with the remembering at the bottom and creativity at the top,
Flipped Learning turns Bloom’s Taxonomy on it’s head:
We need to think of our learners carrying out those low order thinking skills outside of the classroom in their work at home so that when we are in the classroom we can work on their high order thinking skills.
When we talk about “home work” we are talking about those activities that our learners can do it independently with if necessary and possible support from parents and carers. What format might these contain:
We could add to those activities at home , simple worksheets, Kahoots, quizlets etc.
In our flipped classroom it is important to think of the activities that we are going to do:
The link between home and the classroom.
Our central Repository – Where will they be? Drive, Classroom, Teams, Onedrive Etc.
Classroom management: How will I manage the class at home and in the class: Will they be working collaboratively at home? Will I have differentiated groups or tasks? Will they work in pairs in the classroom?
Content: How will I create content for my classes? When it comes to video, will I create my own video material or will I look for appropriate ones online? How can I create activities that are attractive and engage my learners?
These are just some of the areas that need to be considered when carrying out flipped learning.
So does it work? What are the benefits? Pupils can be learning at their own pace and with peers. Missed class or were ill. The class has online video material, so you can see what has taken place. Having done work prior to coming to class, learners prepared to contribute. It is a format which enriches Group work & projects. As teachers we can target those learners who need help knowing that other learners can work in a more independent manner. A teacher instead of standing centre and at the front we are guiding our learners from the side “coaching” them. This format benefits differentiation and work in small groups.
As we all know our learners do not come in a “standard format” where one size fits all. As teachers and educators we all know that often certain approaches work well with certain learners. The situation we find ourselves in now as a profession requires us to think of the 4 “Cs”:
When the prospect of a lockdown became apparent I, as an RCT teacher for the whole school, began to panic. My main concern was how will we be able to continue to develop the skills that they have spent the past 9 months working on with myself in Digital Technologies/STEM?
So when the lockdown resulted in both home and online learning, I had to think outside the box. I was aware that not all of our children would have access to a device to participate in online learning or even have the tools to complete the schemes of work we had planned on doing in the coming weeks.
For the home learning packs, I created STEM Challenge Grids – one for infants (P1-3) and one for upper (P4-7) classes, which you can see below. These grids encompassed previous learning since the beginning of the session, allowing the children to consolidate their learning. They were encouraged to share their progress with us via our school twitter account, or through an email (which we then shared, with permission, to our twitter feed).
I then had to start thinking of ways to continue the STEM learning as the lockdown progressed and the above grids would be getting completed.
This was when I decided to brave the camera and give the whole school STEM challenges twice a week (a Monday and a Thursday), each week would focus on a different letter of STEM for both challenges. This allowed the children to experience some old and some new learning in fun ways. The videos I make are done in one take, whether it works or not, and if it doesn’t work I will often keep persevering until I get it right so they see the process of evaluating and adapting, or if I would like them to figure it out without me giving them the answer, I will stop and challenge them to complete it better than I did!
These challenges are posted on our school twitter feed and the Microsoft Team channels for our P4-7 and ESA children.
Some of the challenges that we have had so far include:
★ Creating a ramp for an easter egg that smashes the egg at the end
★ Creating a paper ball using origami (which also doubled up as a water balloon)
★ Scavenger Hunts – maths and electronic focus
★ Designing a BeeBot and then creating a maze for it to go through, writing with 3 different levels of code ★ Chemical Reactions with Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda
★ Pushing pencils through a bag of water
★ Fitting through a piece of paper
★ Creating patterns
★ Growing a rainbow
★ Completing Barefoot online games
★ Completing Hour of Code games
Similar to the grids, I encourage the children to share how they got on and the feedback from the children has been great. They have been up for the challenges set, and some have even replicated the videos I’ve made (and done them so much better!). The children sometimes share videos or photographs of their challenges at different stages through email, uploading to Teams or the school twitter feed.
Through these STEM challenges, the learners and their families are exposed to different areas of STEM and are enjoying it. Which will definitely help us in the future as we drive STEM forward within our setting – so maybe rather than being apprehensive about how we would continue developing skills we had worked so hard on since August, I should have been jumping for joy as now they learners can share their STEM learning experiences first hand with their families and get them involved!
At Rosebank Primary we have strived to ensure our approach to remote learning for our pupils is delivered in as simplistic and stress free way as possible. We are continually mindful of the challenges many of our parents and families face in supporting their children to learn at home. These include many being new to English, they themselves having had limited educational input and huge poverty related gaps in their life experiences.
Most classes P2-7 had set up Microsoft Teams with their teachers in the week leading up to lockdown, allowing them to speak to staff directly and ask questions about their learning. This is working especially well in subjects such as literacy and numeracy.
P1 are setting weekly learning grids via Twitter and supporting Learning to Read via links to the online Ruth Miskin tutorials.
One of our P4 teachers has created a virtual classroom on powerpoint which includes links to various websites etc .The children just click and it takes them straight to their work task. There are Bitmoji images of the two teachers who take the class with their pets there too!
The P6 Digital class had a head start on Online Learning as alongside Teams they have also been using the app Seesaw. This has helped us to develop strong links between school and home. The pupils’ confident use of these technologies has aided a smooth transition to remote learning. We post daily tasks on Seesaw, which pupils complete and return to us for feedback. We can type up our replies or record our voices for them to listen to, which is slightly more personal. Once, the work is completed it is added to the pupil journal, where their parents can view and comment on it. We have also been able to use the messaging aspect of Seesaw to support parents and check in on families to offer support. We have used Teams as a place to make daily announcements and for pupils to ask questions or have discussion about their tasks. Today we hosted our first chat via Teams. We held a short general knowledge quiz then spoke to each child individually. We received lots of positive feedback from the pupils using a survey created in Forms. The video call will now happen weekly as part of Wellbeing Wednesdays, where we have our chat then we encourage pupils to spend the rest of the day screen free with no further tasks being posted until Thursday.
The SLT team have supported this by being in touch with families individually via telephone, email and twitter in order to refer them to the class teacher where there has been difficulties or confusion.
After initial feedback from parents we have reassured them that they should complete work when they can and have avoided the expectation and pressure of them clocking into events or giving pupils a rigid timetable. We have also reminded parents that they are not expected to be teachers and given play alternatives to many aspects of the learning.