Are you all right? – Reflections on a visit to Polmont⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Through the Scottish Attainment  Challenge, the profile of poverty and the implications for attainment and outcomes  for children and young people has never been more to the forefront of discussion and policy.

As part of the Challenge, I have a role in looking at poverty and its resulting complexities from an academic viewpoint and in researching some recent articles.

I recently had the privilege of visiting Polmont Young Offenders Institute with  a group of colleagues to hear and see at first- hand some of the initiatives to increase life chances and improve opportunities in this context. I left the experience with great admiration for the  direction of travel not only to help prevent re- offending but more importantly, the clarity around understanding the stats and stories behind the young people being there in the first place.

These stats had a profound impact on my conscience and strengthened my resolve to share information about prevention rather than cure…..

A fundamental life experience touched almost all of the young people and that was an experience of bereavement, often a close family member. A high number of young folk had multiple losses, one as many as 17 in their life story. Another common feature, was school exclusion and interestingly, most did not dislike school when they were attending but did resort to ‘class clown’ behaviours. This clown image was evident in a striking piece of artwork on the wall of the performance arts studio in Polmont.

Speaking to some of the young people it was clear that common experiences and regret for poor choices was evident but in spite of these difficulties, there was hope for a better future and those who choose to gain skills and qualifications were hopeful these would help them once liberated. After the young people leave is a whole different blog post!

As a result of the visit, I developed this Sway presentation

I hope you find some of the content interesting and thought provoking and would ask you to consider these points.

  • How often do you encounter the ‘class clown’ ?
  • How often do you find the time and space to ask “Are you alright?”
  • What support would make a difference?  
  • What options do youngsters at risk in your care have and how are these made known to them?

This Sway may be useful as part of a professional learning session in your school. If you want to take part in a secure, online discussion of the questions, we are talking about them on the Scottish Attainment Challenge community on Glow

If you need your Glow password reset, see How do I get a Glow login?


 

Interactive Eatwell Guide⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Food Standards Scotland is proud to have launched the new Interactive Eatwell Guide today. This teaching resource is designed to show the balance of food groups required for a healthy diet. peers.

eatwell-guidedecember

The Interactive Eatwell Guide

Use our interactive Eatwell Guide tool to teach your class how to get a balance of healthier and more sustainable food.  It will help you teach about the different food groups and the proportions of each one we should all be eating, in a fun and interactive way, and at the same time will deliver Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes.  There is more information on the food groups within the resource.

Please note: this resource is designed primarily for use in a classroom environment and will work best on Smart Boards and iPads. It also works on desktops and laptops but please ensure that your screen is set to full screen (go to View and Full Screen).

Supporting information

The Eatwell Guide now replaces the eatwell plate as the main tool showing you a healthy balanced diet. It shows the proportions of the foods that make up a healthy diet. The proportions of food groups have been updated to take into account the new dietary recommendations for more fibre and less sugar.

Contact Lynsey.Gray@fss.scot for further assistance on using this interactive tool or Tanya.Olmeda-Hodge@fss.scot for more information on educational resources.

Santa Visits Glow TV⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

small-image-santaYes it’s that time of year again when we welcome Santa back to Glow TV! This year he will be visiting us on Friday 16th December at 10.45am.

Santa will be taking a break from making all the toys at the North Pole to come to a school in Scotland to answer all the questions that you might have about Christmas and Santa. How does he make all the toys? How does he deliver them all on time? What does he feed his reindeer? How does Rudolph help him with his red nose? These and many many more questions will be answered in this very special Glow TV event.

Sign up and join us live in Glow TV – Santa Visits Glow TV.

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

Leugh is Seinn le Linda!⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

small-gaelic-book-councilEducation Scotland, in partnership with Comhairle nan Leabhraichean, invites you to join a fun-filled live Glow TV session which will be of particular interest to children learning at the early and first level of literacy and Gàidhlig.

This session will be led by Linda MacLeod. Linda will use storytelling in Gaelic and Gaelic song to develop Gaelic language with 3-5 year olds in a fun and motivating way. These are key strategies for taking forward immersion. The session last approximately 30 minutes.

Join us on Tuesday 13th December at 10am in Glow TV! Sign up to take part live – Leugh is Seinn le Linda!

If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.

Educational reforms.⤴

from

As soon as the PISA results came out, the questions, accusations and incriminations began. Blame it on the CfE, blame it on the SNP, blame it on the boogie. I’m not going to blame anyone, there’s plenty of stuff written by plenty of people on the internet already, indeed I’m not sure the PISA results are something to aim for or worry about – Finland seems not to be too concerned – but I am going to write about working through major education reforms in my career to date.

The two major reforms which took place whilst I’ve been a teacher occurred in England and Scotland. In England, I taught through the time of the National Literacy Strategy, the National Numeracy Strategy, the QCA units, the QCA unit plans, SATS tests and OfSTED inspections every four years in a range of schools in England.  In Scotland I’ve taught throughout the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence, and seen at first hand via The Girl, the national assessment procedures.

The reforms in England were massive and to a large degree micro-managed. The Government wanted improvements in literacy and numeracy and wrote strategies to make sure this happened. If there was debate around what ‘good’ literacy and numeracy should look like, I wasn’t part of (I was in my 20s though, so I knew everything anyway). The strategies were written by a group of literacy experts and then rolled out to schools in the autumn and winter to be put into place for the start of the next school year.

I recall the literacy strategy being rolled out in 2 hour staff meetings after school – I hate after school meetings, I’ve done a day of teaching, there is assessment to do and I’m tired: You’re not going to get the best out of me. These meetings were scripted by the government, the trainers read out what we needed to know and we worked through units of work which explained how the strategy worked, how we should plan, how we should teach reading,writing and spelling. We soon spotted that the answers to the trainers’ questions were usually on the next page of the document! For this training we were given a complete strategy, various unit breakdowns of our own, resources (which we needed to make up in school) and some examples of expected work. It was a slog but by September we had stuff in place and away we went with it. The lessons I taught from the strategy weren’t perfect, but there was a structure in place to help me.

Of course, your school didn’t HAVE to follow the literacy strategy, but if you didn’t and the OfSTED or local authority came a calling, your school literacy strategy had better be an improvement on the national strategy. If your SATS results weren’t up to standard then OfSTED might make an extra visit and again, you’d better be getting the national strategy in place or else (or else usually meant your HT retiring or resigning).

Once we had successfully implemented that – well actually by October of that same year – the National Numeracy Strategy was launched. If you’ve had the misfortune to chat to me about this, you’ll know I love the NNS! The Government spotted some of the problems with the literacy strategy and made some key improvements.

The NNS contained examples of questions and ideas you could use, straight out of the folder. The document, like the NLS had learning objectives for each term of each year group (meaning for differentiation there was a progression mapped out). However, the NNS was supplemented with two things I thought were brilliant.

Firstly, there was a 5 day maths course for every teacher in the UK. 5 days out of class (in a hotel at times) to discover the document, talk about it with colleagues from other schools, plan how you would implement it with your class, look at all the resources. Like the NLS it too was scripted, so the Government really were leading this change in EXACTLY the way they wanted it to go. The 5 days were back to back. A full week thinking about nothing more than numeracy. It changed my teaching approach to maths from ‘here’s the book kids’ to something I love to this day. And really it bloody well should have done, bearing in mind the cost of this to the UK taxpayer.

The other wonderful thing was the resources the NNS team made and shared. They created some wonderful teaching programs which I use to this day and they wrote the unit plans. These were highly detailed documents for each unit of work. Unit one was place value it contained 5 plans, one for each day of the week. Each plan was A4 and was pretty much a script for the lesson. There in the same folder (and latterly on CD-ROMS) were the resources (including worksheets) you needed for the lesson. Differentiated. The idea was that these plans were a start point, you changed them to suit the needs of your class. Lots of teachers did and that was great, but even if you didn’t (because you were, like so many teachers lazy 😉 what you delivered was good quality, written by numeracy experts, lessons. If you were new to the job it allowed you to know where to pitch an average lesson and how to piece your maths teaching together over a term. I loved them and still did out the ideas for a concept which my class find tricky to see if I’ve missed anything.

After a year or two, the Government did it again. They released the QCA topic documents. These detailed the teaching for all of the non-core subjects on a lesson by lesson basis. Again, all the information you needed to teach the lesson was contained in the folder. You adapted it, changed the order, added bits in, took bits out but the basic lessons for all your Art, DT, History, Geography, Music, Science, RME and PSE were there. Concurrent to that, the Government noticed that problem solving and investigations was not progressing as well as they wanted, so they created more problem-solving resource and ran another 5 day maths course for two teachers in each school to upskill them in teaching this. Again, resources and knowledge I still use to this day.

Looking back, it seems a great time, with resources aplenty, cash aplenty, but it was hard, hard work at times, with the pressure of OfSTED ready to pounce and the pressure of SATS scores needing to meet targets for school and local authority. For me, giving me start points close to a finished article of a lesson plan or termly plan allowed me to focus on the delivery of the lesson, moving children to their next target (of which they had many) and how I might make these at time dry lessons interesting and meaningful for the children. For teachers, new to the profession it certainly offered a proven scaffold to begin their careers. I loved the support the strategies and unit plans gave me and the time it freed up to think about the needs of the children in my care.

I will discuss the education reforms since I’ve moved to Scotland in my next post. I think it’s possible I moved out of England before things took a turn for the worse, but I’m happy to hear comments from people who disagree with that thought or with things as I recall them from the late 90s and early 2000s

Echo into Eternity⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

echo

It’s also example of doing something that only I would want to do and yet having that thing echo into eternity without any additional effort.

from: API Nirvana – The Content – Bionic Teaching

Tom Woodward writing about his love of APIs, one of a series of posts. I love the idea of playing with things that do something that only I would want to do.

If you have a slightly geeky interest in technology & edu tech Bionic Teaching is a great blog to read.

I’ve a long term casual interest in playing with APIs, and love trying out some of the stuff Tom blogs about. In a timely fashion wordPress 4.7 came out today, including:

WordPress 4.7 comes with REST API endpoints for posts, comments, terms, users, meta, and settings.

from: WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan”.

This is the same API that Tom blogged about (I guess he was using a plugin). The opening up of WordPress sites via an API that an amateur like myself can use it welcome. Over the past few years several sites with interesting APIs move to make them harder to access with out a deeper knowledge than I have (twitter, instagram…).

I had a quick play with the WordPress api making a page that lists recent posts on 3 of my blogs, including this one. 1

wp-json-render

I guess this sort of thing is a minority interest, but I find it enjoyable and although I am never going to be a programmer, helpful in getting a better understanding of how technology can work.

Featured image on this post, one of my own turned up in a search for echo. test1-echo.tif | Using Image Bending in Audacity – CogDogBlo… | John Johnston | Flickr

 

  1. I added the Better REST API Featured Images WordPress Plugin to et the images following a hint on Tom’s post.

    Unleashing Learners⤴

    from @ Pedagoo.org

    At the start of October I attended the Pedagoo Muckle in Glasgow. One of the learning conversations I took part in was led by Fearghal Kelly about “Unleashing Learners” which was about the pupils leading the learning of a unit of work – I was instantly intrigued! The thought of handing over a whole unit […]

    Primary Nurturing Approaches Professional Learning Resource⤴

    from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

    A Primary Nurturing Approaches Professional Learning Resource has recently been completed by Education Scotland and was delivered to around 50 representatives from the 9 Challenge Authorities over 4 days in October and November 2016 as a pilot. This was an engaging and motivating 4 days and many of the representatives have begun to embed both universal nurturing approaches and targeted approaches in their schools and LAs.

    The resource is being updated to incorporate the feedback of those who attended and will be run again as a 4 day course on the 23rd, and 24th of January and 20th and 21st of February 2017 in Glasgow.  There is an expectation that those who attend this training will be able to take it forward and deliver it in their own context.  Notes of interest are asked to be submitted to the following email: Anne-Marie.Lamont@educationscotland.gsi.gov.uk.  Details on the course and requirements for attending will then be sent out to all those who are interested after which interested parties will be invited to attend if they are felt to be at a stage of readiness to take the training forward in their context. Applicants can be from SAC or non-SAC contexts.

    Flipped professional learning on Glow⤴

    from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

    In these times, it’s vital to make the most out of the opportunities offered by face-to-face professional learning events. That’s why some event organisers are now  ‘flipping’ some of the learning .

    A flipped learning space (eg a Yammer community on Glow) lets attendees engage online before the event; look at pre-event materials, introduce themselves and explain their expectations.

    During the event, the conversation can continue with others not at the event, presenters can easily access their materials and you can post suggestions made or resources mentioned.

    After the event, the impact can be tracked using a pledges tag and the whole thing can be revisited as an anytime professional learning opportunity as you may have filmed the key moments or presenters.

    If you need to reset your Glow details, then see How do I get a Glow login?

    If you need help with ‘flipped learning’ we will publish a Handy guide soon. In the meantime, these colleagues  shown below on Yammer will be able to help.


    Scottish Engineer Special Leaders Award – Ashley Nicholson⤴

    from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

    small-ashley-nicholsonJoin us on Tuesday 6th December at 11am for an opportunity to chat to an engineer who can help you as part of this year’s Scottish Engineering Special Leaders Award.

    This week’s engineer is Ashley Nicholson. She is the Harbour Master Forth Inner at Forth ports Limited and looks after the navigation service call Forth & Tay Navigation and is responsible for the safe navigation of all vessels to and from the Ports of Grangemouth and the Oil and Gas Terminals of Hound Point and Breafoot. As part of her duties she is involved in civils projects throughout the river and spend large amounts of time managing engineering project from a marine perspective. The latest project is the construction of the Queensferry Crossing which she has been involved with from the very early stages. She was awarded the Scottish Engineering Incorporation of Hammerman award for my involvement in this project.

    Sign up and join us live in Glow TV – Scottish Engineer Special Leaders Award – Ashley Nicholson

    If you unable to join us for the live event you can always catch up with the recording at another time – Glow TV’s Watch Again.