Category: Local Authority

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

Remote Learning – What is Working? Berwickshire High School in Scottish Borders.

In this guest blog post, Derek Huffman, PT Pedagogy / English Teacher from Berwickshire High School in Scottish Borders, South East Improvement Collaborative, shares what is working well in remote learning and what they can take back to the classrooms as a whole school team when learners return.

 

One of the many issues facing teachers during ‘remote learning’ is maintaining high levels of student engagement. It is understandable why, when left to their own devices, a student might reach for their PlayStation controller rather than their school iPad. What can we do to fight this?

At Berwickshire High School, our student engagement spreadsheet suggests that, in some areas, teachers are consistently keeping students coming back for more. After discussing with staff what is working, I found that, though no two people are doing the exact same thing, there are some key commonalities. 

I’ve pulled these together, with some exemplification, in this seven-minute video:

Where it’s working, teachers are focussed on the following:

  • Simplifying: reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ students are facing to what is essential. What is simplest way to word the Learning Intentions? Do you need that extra slide?
  • Using the success criteria like a checklist
  • Having a ‘consistency of experience’ for the students: students know that at this time, they go here, where they’ll experience a lesson with a common structure – starting with daily review, going into a discussion of the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, followed by teacher modelling and time to complete a task, and ending with a plenary where the teacher checks that the students have learned what they should have.
  • Giving brief, regular, useful bits of feedback that outline next steps

None of this is rocket science, but it works. The good news is that these are all the exact same things we should be doing in our actual classrooms. If we can focus on getting this right during these wild times, just think how much more effective we’ll be as teachers when we bring what we’ve learned back into our classrooms!

The majority of teachers I know are being too hard on themselves at the moment. It’s important to remember that we are doing our best, and if you are struggling, call someone. Send an email. We’re all in the same boat and if we row in the same direction, we’ll get there.

Derek Huffman , PT Pedagogy, Berwickshire High School

gw09huffmanderek@glow.sch.uk

 

 

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 Microsoft Forms to Support Learners and Assess Understanding

Gayle Badger is a Biology and Science teacher from Johnstone High School in Renfrewshire.

She has been using Microsoft Forms to support and assess learners understanding of the course content. Forms has allows her to create a variety of questions and provide instant feedback for them. This has been extremely beneficial and has received great feedback form learners and parents about how the instant feedback has guided their learning and next steps. Forms also allows Gayle to embed video and picture content that can be used to flip the learning or even to provide support to incorrect answers on the quiz, allowing learners to revise their answers more independently. 

“It is definitely my go to now for checking understanding and I also use it as a ‘live’ lesson to go over answers , especially with seniors where they can see where they may have gone wrong with their answers.”
 
Pupils have said that they find it useful to have the teacher go over answers ‘live’, after completing the form, as they benefit from hearing her ‘going through the process’ of how to pick out data from the problem solving questions – just like they would do in class.
 
 
Here are two examples for different stages:
 
 
 
 
 

webinar logo for literacy

Teaching English with O365 Forms, Susan Galloway, Drumchapel High School

Susan Galloway, from Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, shares how she has used O365 Forms to engage learners and improve attainment in English with it.

 

We have been using Microsoft Forms to support pupil engagement in English and we’ve found that this has had a positive impact on attainment and supported assessment of learners at all stages.

In the BGE, we’ve primarily used Forms as quizzes to support pupils with short reading tasks. These are self-marking and classes often have access to quizzes with different levels of challenge. We generally use the ‘chilli challenge’ concept for this with the majority of learners being asked to do the ‘Hot’ challenge with a ‘Spicy’ and ‘Extra Hot’ version to offer challenge and support. What surprised us was how keen pupils were to choose the more challenging versions and their increased resilience even if they got quiz questions wrong. This approach particularly benefitted pupils who struggled with literacy and who could use assistive technologies to support them if needed.

For Senior Phase pupils our focus has been in using Forms to support RUAE. Questions from past papers or any close reading can be easily copied into Forms and it only takes about 5 minutes to create a Higher paper. Self-marking is less effective here as we expect pupils to have a wider range of responses so the basic Forms format works best. The ability to see all pupil answers in spreadsheet format means teachers can quickly identify questions learners have struggled with and accordingly target teaching. It also means you can easily share anonymised answers with pupils and get them to peer mark, identifying quality answers and how to improve weaker ones. Previously I would have typed example pupil answers or used a visualiser on a pupil’s work but this approach saves time and makes peer assessment more straightforward for pupils to access. RUAE results have directly improved as a result of this approach.

Both the quizzes and forms are really straightforward and quick to make, and easy to share with colleagues which helps reduce teacher workload. Pupils benefit from being able to use assistive technologies to read questions aloud and pupil feedback has been extremely positive.

Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary – Webinar

Andrew Boulind and Rory Buchanan, St Joseph’s Primary School, Aberdeen

We shared how Blended Learning has been used on return at the start of this new session 2020-2021 and its impact on the learners. After having returned in August form Lockdown, we felt it was important to utilise the digital skills the learners had gained as well as improving pupil engagement, motivation, and challenge by using a blended approach to learning in the classroom. By maintaining this blended approach, we have been able to provide a differentiated and more personalised approach to learning.

Although technology has played an important part in our classes it has been important to create a stimulating environment in the classroom where the displays demonstrate a range of curricular areas and are accessible and used to reinforce learning.

By using our variation of Blended learning, the pupils have been leading the learning. It was vital for us that learning was relevant and built on previous online learning. The approach has made sure that pupils are aware of learning expectations and know how to be successful in their learning, whether online or in class.

Learners are engaging in various types of learning experiences, online, in class and in groups. Learners are encouraged to develop high order thinking strategies in their classwork using the and online activities. Due to the use of online assessment tools the Learners are aware of feedback and can act rapidly on this. Digital technology is a feature of learning with both in class as well as at home. After the lockdown and the possibility that they had more “textbook type activities” it has been important to provide them with activities that they can relate their learning to real life contexts.

The Webinar will looked at the tools and pedagogy used in this first term (August – October), the digital tools used and their impact on their learners. 

Recorded Webinar – Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary

 

      PowerPoint Presentation – Practitioner Examples of Blended Learning in Primary

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: