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How digital technology enhances the engagement of learning across the primary stages? – A Professional Enquiry
Daniella Mancini (@missmancini27)
I set out to investigate the following points:
- to explore whether the use of digital technology enhances engagement levels in the primary class
- to measure the importance of digital skills across a range of primary class stages (P1- P7)
- to explore the impact of digital technology across the primary stages
The justification, methodology and results can be viewed in the enquiry here:
Before the idea of school closures ever crossed our mind, Craigour Park had been working towards improving digital engagement for staff, learners and parents. We had over the past year evaluated our progress, highlighted our strengths and had a clear vision of how we would like to move forward. A new skills progression was being developed in collaboration with learners and parents. Our class teachers were routinely integrating digital technology into learning experiences, robotics dance parties were no longer a wild dream, our learners were becoming experts in the world of Office 365 and words like Plickers and GoSpiral now had meaning. Then Covid-19 emerged as the next great challenge our nations schools would have to overcome. The classrooms fell silent and the school doors were locked. Despite the significant changes to the way that we now lived our lives, our staff took this as an opportunity to enhance the digital literacy of our learners and seek new and creative ways to continue delivering high quality learning experiences.
Our journey began with our teachers establishing multiple lines of communication. For our P1-3 teachers this meant Learning Journals. For the rest of the school (P4-P7) class teams were set up on Microsoft Teams. Twitter accounts were established by each stage from Nursery up to P7. Our school website was updated, and a school YouTube account was created. During this initial phase of lockdown, we gained useful feedback from learners and parents by using Google and Microsoft Forms. This allowed us to actively respond to our learner’s needs and ensure that we engaged as many pupils as possible.
After a few initial teething errors, Microsoft Teams proved to be a huge success amongst learners and teachers. As well as providing a platform for learners to access their learning it also provided them with a social space where they could talk directly to one another. Who knew that a 3-hour conversation could be sustained purely with emojis? Teaching staff embraced the opportunity to develop their pedagogy with Sways, Forms and assignments now becoming commonplace. Using rubrics, points systems and forms a variety of assessment techniques are routinely implemented and our whole school marking policy is continuing to be used. Our Spanish teacher was added to all our Teams allowing them to run school wide competitions ranging from creating a Tapas feast to recreating famous works of art by Spanish Artists. Several additional apps have been trialled by our teachers. Insights for example has now become the standard tool for assessing engagement allowing us to target further support to pupils who may need it. Our school has also realised the value of Teams in supporting transition with new teachers having the opportunity to communicate directly with learners and assess their current levels and interests.
Our school Twitter accounts have provided opportunities for our learners to engage with school and city-wide initiatives. Recently to support the transition from Nursery to P1, many of our staff and learners went on a Teddy Bear Hunt! Our P5 teachers led a #BigDayIn where learners had the opportunity to showcase their wider talents and achievements which would normally be celebrated at assemblies, the magic tricks were mind boggling! Throughout lockdown our school PE teacher has created a variety of challenges and initiatives which keep our learners healthy and active. Ranging from community treasure hunts to playing conventional sports with items you might find in the cupboard. We are ending the school year with our own version of the Olympics and a school wide BRAW (Bike Run and Walk) challenge where participants are challenged to do one activity each day for the whole month of June.
During lockdown our school established a YouTube channel to directly show learners different strategies and skills. Feedback from teachers, parents and learners indicated that this would be a useful tool to support home learning activities. This has enabled us as a school to deliver lessons directly to our learners with the same explanations and guidance they would receive within the classroom. Our P3 Team have used this excellently with learners now having access to videos showing them how to create and understand Pictographs, Bar graphs and Carroll Diagrams. Our Nursery is regularly reading bedtime stories, a favourite of which is of course the Wonky Donkey. Learners can learn new PE skills directly and learners can join in with Maths warm up games. In addition, our SLT and Head Teacher have taken the opportunity to deliver messages directly to parents and learners. The school year is ending with a whole staff video for our P7’s in lieu of their usual leavers assembly.
Although Covid-19 has certainly raised many challenges and continues to have a significant impact on the lives and education of our learners, one positive is that our staff and many of our learners are certainly now more adept and confident delivering learning in the digital age.
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!
(Glow account required)
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.
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.
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
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.
The responses from many of our webinar evaluation forms told us that practitioners would like to learn more about green screen technology and how this can be used to effectively enhance learning and engage learners. We recently delivered a webinar ‘Evidencing Learning with iMovie’ and have collated a Green Screen Supporting Resources Wakelet, encompassing a collection of tutorials and ideas brought to you by the Digital Skills Team to take forward green screen technology with your learners.
We would love to hear how you get on in the future when using green screen technology to enhance learning and engage learners and welcome you to ‘get involved’ and share your digital learning blog posts with the wider community, right here on DigiLearn.Scot!
What is Wakelet?
Learning and Teaching
At Rosshall Academy, the announcement by Glasgow City Council that every student would receive an iPad came at a time when staff members were refining their Broad General Education curriculums. Through supported collegiate and faculty meetings our school had already critically engaged with literature that looked to ensure an inclusive curriculum that met the refreshed narrative of Broad General Education as set out in 2019. We wanted to structure a course through the principles of simplicity, consistency and clear recognition of skills. We also took into great consideration how our curricular designs helped students emulate and embody the four capacities, in order to ensure they are given the best possible start to their future. The introduction of digital literacy to our learning plans allowed for more creativity in our initial ideas, and so was naturally included in discussion from this point onwards. This allowed for the creation of my role as Digital Literacy Coordinator, in which I took responsibility for helping colleagues identify worthwhile and robust aspects of digital literacy that could be incorporated with these BGE plans. This role was create under the umbrella of Learning and Teaching Development within the school, with the intention being to ensure digital learning is used in a valuable and enriching way to further bolster excellent curricular design.
By December of 2019 teaching staff had received their iPads and training, and the illimitable possibilities within digital literacy were now tangible. Staff understood that digital literacy was not just a means for supporting a subject’s own learning, but carried value of its own. With this in mind, we continued to work on exciting curriculums that would ensure our students would have a greater knowledge and understanding of our curricular areas, as well as including the skills needed for learning, life and work that could be achieved through digital literacy. Given Digital Literacy is the responsibility for all teachers to deliver, alongside Numeracy, Literacy and Health & wellbeing, is was important for all staff to contribute to, and feel competent in, delivering digital literacy within their classroom. I also highlighted to staff members that at this point in time, we are trying to prepare students for jobs that might no yet exist. Given that we are in the midst of the 4th industrial revolution, we must have young people prepared with the skills required for work, and feeling like they can fulfil the four capacities. Looking at the technological advances in the past 20 years it was clear to me that we have to prepare our young people for as much change and innovation as possible. With my support as the Digital Literacy Coordinator, we looked at the different opportunities core Apple apps provided, as well as experimenting with others such as Green Screen and Book Creator. Staff found where they could effectively integrate these into lessons and assessments with support, and were enthused by the opportunities platforms such as Showbie and Teams provided in terms of homework, workload and feedback.
We were also motivated by the opportunities that working with iPads and digital literacy allowed as we sought to help our students in raising their attainment – work could now be handed in with oral annotations or typed to be more accessible. It opened up a range of additional opportunities to our students requiring further support in some learning areas. Our EAL students will have better access to translating apps, as old the teacher to enforce better relationships. Our VI students could now access a range of apps with enlarged text and ‘text to speech’ functions. Our learners with additional support requires could also adapt the iPad’s accessibility features to suit their needs, and those with some interrupted spells of learning would now have a quicker, more efficient method of gaining support from their teachers.
Challenges and opportunities of COVID and Lockdown
The staff enthusiasm for the integration of iPads into daily school life was a blessing when we were plunged into lockdown. Though our students did not yet have their iPads, many teachers had already given them snapshots of what digital learning would look like in the near future. Classroom-style apps had already been set up by several staff members, and those who had not worked to have these installed prior to the school closure. This has meant that despite the difficult and sudden circumstance, we have had much success in moving to digital and distance-based learning.
Year groups were given an overview to the basic apps they might be asked to use during lockdown, and information about accessing these and Glow emails were distributed to students and families in through various routes. Robert Cleveland, PT of Employability and Family Engagement, revamped the school website, with pastoral and curricular education. Students and families now had another way to access their subjects, and could find a well of information and useful contacts.
Our staff has also engaged in many in-house CLPL sessions via Teams. Delivered by our DLOLs, we have recorded and held live webinars exploring some apps furthers and providing a centre for question-asking and tip-sharing between staff to support each other. This hub of positive activity and professional learning has encouraged further growth in confidence in many staff members, whose new skills and knowledge ultimately transferred into a positive learning experience for student
By surveying staff and pupils, there has been a positive response to how our distance and digital learning has gone. There have been teething problems, and it is important to recognise the barriers in place to some students during this time in terms of access to digital equipment, but staff have endeavoured to find as many routes around these issues as possible
Our Digital Future
Though we are not sure just what our next school year may look like yet, the staff and I at a Rosshall academy are excited to continue on our digital learning journey when all students receive their iPads. We have worked hard to give all new S5 and 6 students receive their iPads prior to the summer break, to ensure they can access a much material as they wish to going into qualification years. With a focus of the new school yea likely being blended learning, we are developing materials to support staff, pupils an parents alike to help navigate this learning and teaching method. We are also looking to blend our extensive training on Making Think Visible strategies with our new-found technology in order to support students fully when they are learning in school and at distance. Though there will continue to be some obstacles, I believe our collective engagement with digital literacy from a curricular planning level has meant we are equipped to help lead our students through this unusual time. In the face of difficulty, we create, innovate and elevate.
Sophie Lamont is the Digital Literacy Coordinator of Rosshall Academy, and is a Teacher of Dance and Drama within the school’s Faculty of Performing Arts.
Background Hi, I am Shelley a Business Education Teacher in the Scottish Borders. This is my first year as an MIEExpert and a Microsoft Trainer and I am very passionate about digital technologies. Due to the nature of my subject in School I am fairly comfortable with using Microsoft software and I have been using …
A Digital Transformation Story: Using G Suite to enhance and support learning
Our story begins in 2017 when Coalburn Primary School received 11 Chromebooks as part of an IT refresh. After a very short time, these devices became a regular feature in our daily teaching, so much so, that we purchased a further 14 to allow the whole school to benefit from their use more frequently. (We are a small school of 4 classes)
In the beginning, the Chromebooks were used primarily for online games to support learning and access to the GLOW Launchpad tiles. Their compact design, long battery life and portability meant that they were easy to have within the class, on desks. However, after attending a course on Google Classroom, the scope of the G Suite tools became more apparent.
Google Classroom has provided pupils with a platform for collaborative learning. With assignments being scheduled ahead of time, class teachers can work with a group, free from interruption, while other pupils access tasks set in Google Classroom with resources attached. It has provided access at home to resources needed to revise, notably using Google Classroom for Bikeability videos and tasks. Children from different classes within the school, in the same virtual classroom, sharing their learning.
Google Classroom assignments led to exploring the other Google tools: Doc, Sheets and Slides. Upper school pupils can use these tools confidently, knowing that their work saves automatically to Google Drive. It has afforded them the chance to work collaboratively on documents to share the tasks. The online nature of the programs means the pupils can access tasks at home and in school. Since August 2019 large number of pupils were using Google Classroom on their phones and tablets, through the apps available. Google Assignments have allowed staff to comment on tasks completed and give constructive feedback for pupils to act on.
Another major benefit to using Chromebooks in class are the accessibility extensions available within the browser. OpenDyslexic converts all text on the screen to a bottom-heavy font. This has been a game-changer for dyslexic pupils in terms of accessing text. The font is easier to read and pupils are gaining confidence in their ability to work independently. Another accessibility tool for pupils with literacy difficulties has been Read&Write, a screen reader which reads any text on screen to the user. It also provides talk and type, allowing pupil to record ideas and tasks. Pupils can have a Chromebook on their desk and work more independently, thus increasing confidence in their own abilities.
Growing confidence in the use of G Suite tools led me to joining South Lanarkshire’s first cohort of Google for Education Certified Educators, spending 2 days training and sitting the exams for Level 1 & 2 accreditation. Having been encouraged by the course leaders to continue this adventure, I decided to apply for Certified Trainer status and was delighted to receive notification in January 2020 that I had passed. This has led to meeting a group of like-minded people, enthusiastic about digital transformation and a network of worldwide educators sharing their ideas. The rest of the school staff have also engaged fully in this journey, developing their digital skills and knowledge and sharing this with their classes. Pupils in the upper class have become our digital leaders, helping younger pupils access these new technologies with gentle encouragement.
In these unprecedented times, when home learning has become essential, our pupils have engaged enthusiastically with tasks set in Google Classroom. They already had the skills and knowledge from school this year and could apply this from their home setting. The key has been to keep it fresh and assign tasks that allow collaboration even though they cannot physically be together. They have planned a “virtual sports day” using Jamboard, using Sheets to create scoresheets. Literacy tasks have been completed using Breakout Rooms to allow pupils to share their thoughts and knowledge as they would have done in the classroom. One of the simplest but most important things to have come out of using Google Classroom for home learning is saying good morning every day. Some pupils log on at 9am every morning to say hello to their teachers and classmates. This is a link that they need, to bring normality to our new routine. It makes me smile.
twitter: @MrsLAFerguson1, @CoalburnPrimary