Monthly Archives: May 2019

Young STEM Leaders⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

An exciting new award which aims to spark greater interest in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) among young people is being launched in Scotland and your organisation / youth group could be part of the Young STEM Leaders Award pilot!

A key strand of the Scottish Government’s Strategy for STEM Education and Training (2017), children and young people will be given the chance to inspire, lead and mentor their peers through the creation and delivery of STEM activities and events within their school, Early Years Centres or local youth / community groups.

The key aim of the Young STEM Leader (YSL) programme will be to facilitate the development of peer STEM role models to inspire more young people to develop an interest in STEM and pursue the study of STEM subjects and relevant future careers. As well as helping the Young STEM Leader (YSL) develop important personal skills that are increasingly in demand from employers, it is hoped that working towards the YSL Award will motivate the Young STEM Leader to continue to progress their STEM studies and eventually embark on a career in STEM.The Scottish government-funded programme is being led by the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (SSERC) and a range of partners, including Awards Network members YouthLink Scotland and Young Scot. The Awards Network has recently been invited to join the project Steering Group.

The Young STEM Leader Award will be non-formally accredited at curriculum levels 2, 3 and 4, underpinned by a framework that identifies the skills, knowledge and behaviours expected of a Young STEM Leader at each curricular level. SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 will be formally accredited and certificated.

Every YSL will receive face-to-face and digital training related to the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to be a Young STEM Leader at each level. Those co-ordinating, supporting and assessing the YSLs will also receive training. It is anticipated that the YSL Award will allow easy progression for YSLs to become STEM Ambassadors when they turn 17.

A Scotland-wide pilot of the YSL programme is due to launch in early summer 2019. SSERC is seeking to sign-up a diverse mix of schools, youth and community groups and existing awards / initiatives, to pilot the programme, which will be fully operational across Scotland in 2020. It would be great to see strong youth work sector involvement.

If you would like your organisation / young people to be involved in the YSL Award pilot, please contact YSL Project Manager Graeme Rough at ysl@sserc.scot Tel. 01383 626 070

Currie Community High: A shared vision for all learners⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Currie Community High is a very forward-thinking school, which underpins all developments with the principles of good curriculum design, effective learning and teaching, and partnerships (HGIOS 4). These partnerships and networks, including social media, have allowed them to drive forward the progression for their students into a positive destination – with 99.2% of school leavers at Currie Community High School going into either FE, HE or employment.

The vision has grown from the establishment of a strategy group in 2016-2017 with representatives from all faculties, including Pupil Support and Support for Learning, who aimed to identify strengths and areas to develop and implement DYW, including discussion with the leadership team. These key areas then influenced their three-year strategy and the opportunities they now offer, as part of their curriculum that develops the young workforce.

They continue to reflect and develop, using data through baseline testing with S1, S3 and S5 (every two/three years), to lead and develop creative and innovative opportunities for students, including :

Senior Phase Roadshow

Road Trip Series

S3 STEM Networking Event

WOW (World of Work) Week

To enhance their curriculum offerings, they are working as an SCQF Ambassador School, raising awareness of different levels of qualifications and how they can influence an individual student’s learning journey. Included in this are  work-based learning opportunities, including Foundation Apprenticeships and work placements. They have created a series of webpages to share information and opportunities with students and parents, while being an effective tool to engage partners.

Each department has conducted an evaluation, through using a revised tool, constructed from the Education Scotland’s CES Learning Resources, to reflect on the teacher/practitioner entitlements. Each department identified two or three areas that need developing as part of their improvement planning. Through their customised CLPL, ’Staff Industry Insight Sessions’, work to meet these development needs, along with industry support and partners such as Scotland’s Enterprising Schools (SES).

Through each year, they work to raise awareness with staff, students, parents and partners on the importance of a curriculum that develops the young workforce.

All of their opportunities embed the Career Education Standards (CES) (3-18) and their own Skills Framework (based on BTC 4: Skills for Learning, Life and Work), giving students the opportunity to become more aware of where their learning, skills and subject choices will lead them on their learning journey.

Once piece of advice that Currie Community High offer:

“manage the workload of staff and members of the strategy group, it is vital that someone has the strategic responsibility for driving DYW forward, however it does not solely sit with them, allowing the sustainable development and longevity of DYW beyond 2021. For this to be sustainable, support from partners for opportunities, including financial support, will allow this to grow and embed for years and students to come!” John Schmidt DYW Lead

Currie Community High have a major focus on skills and careers awareness (CES) which begins from P7 (as part of transitions) to S3, which engages parents, along with plans to expand this throughout the Senior Phase. They are currently reviewing their work placement strategy through utilising the Education Scotland Work Placement Benchmarking tool, based on data and student voice, to provide tailored opportunities for individual pathways. After the successes over the last 3 years, from 2019-20 they are moving forward as a cluster to develop a new ‘Currie Cluster DYW Strategy Group’.

Quotations from young people

S1: ‘I feel inspired to create my own bookstore and read more’

S1: ‘Getting a job or the right person for a job is very competitive’

S2: ‘I learnt about how teamwork is important in real life’

S2: ‘I had a chance to explore different jobs in a calm and free environment’

S3: ‘I learnt about tactics of persuasion and how to trade and invest’

S3: ‘Some parent/carer jobs are high level, which made me think about what I needed to do’

S5/6: ‘I want to go to college and it was great way to see what the different options are for me’

Evaluation: a process, not an event⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

Throughout my time as a school leader, and since, I have wrestled with the challenge of evaluation, in terms of measuring the impact of change, in a way which is meaningful and useful . Early in my career, such evaluation was very much viewed as an event, or events, that happened towards the end of a project, or piece of work, usually occurring towards the end of a school year. This was often a time filled with lots of scrabbling around looking for 'evidence' that could be put into some sort of report aimed at different different audiences. It felt stressful, concocted at times and often disconnected from the whole change agenda. Evaluation was a thing to be endured at the end of something else, with its main purpose consisting of proving you had been doing something to different people. Some of these would take what you gave them, and put that into their own 'evaluation report' for a cluster of schools, a local authority, or even a national system.

A major issue with such an approach, was that it gave very little reliable 'evidence' of what schools had been doing, never mind the impact of all their busyness. This would not change if we didn't move away from viewing evaluation as an event, and instead begin to see it as a process that was embedded into everything we did. A school leader's approach to evaluation will be mirrored in classrooms, and I well remember teachers scrambling around to provide me, and others, the evidence we were asking for. I remember doing the same myself as a teacher. For many teachers, evaluation was an event that took place in the summer term, just like Parents' Nights, Sports Days or School Trips. Another of the many 'things' that happen in schools that mark the passing of time, but which had questionable impact.

All this was to change for me when we started to use practitioner enquiry for school and professional development. Now we saw development and growth as part of a continuous process, not a series of events or 'things'. When such thinking began to be embedded in our practice, it changed our approach to everything, including evaluation. We recognised that evaluation needed to be a process embedded into everything we did, and should be thought about before we embarked on any changes planned for our practice. When we did this, it all began to make sense and evaluation began to feel a natural fit to what we were trying to do, and a lot less stressful, as it was ongoing and informed current and future actions. When evaluation is happening continuously, it stops being seen as a major event, but more as an integral part of the process of change. Evaluation processes shape the change process and are shaped by it. Nothing is fixed or set in stone, evaluation needs to evolve and respond to changes being experienced by individuals and schools.

Fast forward a few years and I am still thinking about evaluation, this time on behalf of Connect Scotland and some of their professional learning modules for teachers and schools. As part of this work, it quickly became apparent that lots of schools were still struggling with evaluation around their work with parents. Many schools were doing lots of positive work with parents, building relationships and working on improving engagement, but struggled with the evaluation of this work. What we were finding were schools trying to think about how they evaluate this great work, to inform their school community or local authority, but who were struggling to come up with much more than counting attendance numbers at events. Certainly, attendance at various parental events can be one evaluative indicator for schools and their leaders, but it is only one and provides a limited amount of useful or useable information. Evaluation should be formative. Providing evidence of where you are and the impacts you are having, as well as signposting the road ahead.

There appears to be two major problems, or stumbling blocks, for many schools. The first is the approach being taken, which still views evaluation as an event at the end of a process, rather than something thought about at the outset and then built into the work, and shaped by that work. The second is that schools seemed to lack a range of evaluation strategies or tools to employ throughout the process. Connect have tried to address both of these issues, and have been working with Janet Goodall to address this further. Meaningful evaluation doesn't have to be complex, and nor does all of it have to be done by teachers or school leaders, especially in the area of parental engagement.

Evaluation, done properly and thought about carefully, should not just mean more work or activity. It should involve us in working smarter by being able to connect and build evaluation into all our developmental processes. When we do this we can answer key questions. Where are we now? Where are we heading? How will we know if we have been successful? Where do we need to go next? With deep embedded evaluation practices, as a process, we are more likely to be able to answer those questions, as well as accumulate the evidence to support our answers. Keeping evaluation proportionate and manageable is absolute key. I would add that it has to be meaningful and useful too. If we are evaluating and collecting evidence for some other audience, we have misunderstood the importance of it to ourselves and our schools.

Having evidence, or data, to show others, should be a by-product of what we do, not a driver. We evaluate to better understand ourselves and our learners, not to 'prove' anything to anyone else. By understanding ourselves and our learners better, we are better able to keep building and improving
what we do from and informed position, rather than a fictional one we might like to present to others. Education and school development is too important to treat it like some aspects of social media, with everyone presenting themselves in ways that they would like others to see them. It is our professional responsibility to know ourselves well, faults and strengths, for how else can we honestly say where
we are, or know the impact we are having? Without proportionate and robust evaluation, who knows what improvements we are making, or the damage we may be doing?

The first step for this to happen, is that we have to recognise evaluation as a process, not an event.


An EduBlether with Vocabulary Ninja⤴

from @ EduBlether

We were lucky enough to catch the Vocabulary Ninja to have a chat about his new book, his app and vocabulary in general. It is hard not to get passionate about vocabulary after reading this, we are sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.

Can you tell us about how you became the vocabulary ninja? Was there a long and gruelling training regime? Let us know about your journey.

Vocabulary Ninja stated quite simply out of a reflection on how one particular year had went, the results the Y6 pupils achieved and how things could be improved. Within this period of refection, I decided that vocabulary would become a driving force of everything that happened within the classroom and around the school.

I decided to introduce a word to my class everyday, and because I was doing it anyway, I thought that I would share it. So, I created a blog and Twitter account and shared the word of the day every day for people to use. That’s it. I’m really proud to see where Vocabulary Ninja has developed in the 2 and a half years it has been running. One of the best things about it, is the people you get to engage with as a result! It’s amazing! Who knows what will happen in the next 2 and a half years.

As someone who is a true advocate for the power of words, what is your favourite word?

Well that is a tough question. In terms of how I have seen a word used in such a skilled way by a pupil, it would have to be translucent. A pupil used it to describe the wings of a dragon, it was a real lightbulb moment for me personally and the pupil, as to the impact this word had on the writing, and the deeper meanings it portrayed. She pupil built a vivid image of this dragon using words such as emaciated and frail. Perfect!

Is your book only relevant to the teaching of English and Literacy, or will the content be useful and transferable across the curriculum? 

It’s a great question. The book is stacked with ideas to support reading and writing, via vocabulary. However, there are over 50 topic word banks based upon the national curriculum, etymology sections that swirl their way through history, geography and science, and most importantly a range of content to your mentality towards teaching vocabulary.This mentality has the same applications across the curriculum, not only thinking about vocabulary, but in everything that you do as a teacher. You’ll see what I mean!

Your book recommends some fantastic ideas, strategies and games for improving vocabulary in your classroom. Which of these is your favourite and why?

I think simple things are the best. My favourite is the word of the day, the original and the best. The beauty of the word of the day is that it has so many applications. The main aim of the word of the day is to widen and deepen a pupils vocabulary. By discussing the associated SPaG, word classes and definitions with pupils, then giving then the opportunity to apply. Then revisit, use orally through the day and week. Slowing helping pupils seethe word in action. It’s a mindset – it’s free. Words are there all around us, as teachers we must make them a priority in our classrooms. If someone was to implement one idea from the book, it would be this.Further to this. The free Vocab Lab App has been a revelation! Nearly 100K downloads and the feedback that I receive is wonderful! If you haven’t downloaded it for your personal or school iPads yet, then you are missing out!

What do you see as the main barriers to children developing a wide ranging vocabulary? How do we, as educators, best work against this? 

Honestly, and I touch on this in the book. You, teachers. And a child’s home life too, but yes teachers can be a big barrier. So, ok, this is a barrier, but let’s not look at it as a negative, but rather an opportunity for change. By making vocabulary a priority of our own and thinking about it as a valuable ally, rather than the enemy, then we can begin to win the war of words! 

You have also developed a Vocabulary Ninja app. Can you tell us a little about how this came about and what the app does? 

I love the apps that I have created so far. The Vocab Lab is amazing really and is due for an expansion upgrade very soon! The Vocab Lab has 100 very common words that pupils often use within their writing, mostly because the have no alternative. As a year 6 teacher, the App for me, was a way to impact on more children at once and to promote independence. The App gives 6 alternative for each word – children (and adults) love using it.Plus – it’s free! I also have a Word of the Day App too, again totally free. This has both Words of the Day, appear in the App every day! Super handy! The App’s are designed to make teachers lives a little easier, reduce workload and improve outcomes for pupils and schools.

Finally, there are so many competing agendas in a school. Why do you think vocabulary is so important and what can it do for our learners? 

I honestly don’t think there is enough time in the school day for vocabulary to become a competing agenda item,  and rightly so. But it must form part of teachers daily routine, part of your mentality and your schools ethos towards learning.Words impact and unlock the curriculum. Quite simply, if pupils understand more words, then they will be able to access more of the learning opportunities put before them in science, english, maths, PE, in conversations and so on.

There won’t be a test, it isn’t measurable, but its impact will be profound.

Website – www.vocabularyninja.co.uk

Blog – vocabularyninja.wordpress.com

Twitter – @VocabularyNinja

 

Sustainability and non-traditional practical work⤴

from @ education

Since I met Tim Drysdale last year we've spent some not-small amount of time talking about remote labs, and non-traditional practical work (NTPW) more generally (if you know Tim, you know he can *talk*). I've enjoyed the intellectual thrill that comes with learning about and … Continue reading Sustainability and non-traditional practical work

Looking back on another year of lecture recording⤴

from @ education

We're very swiftly moving towards the end of a 3 year programme of work to implement Lecture Recording at the University of Edinburgh and are writing up all sorts of pieces to capture the activities and learnings. The first year of the programme in 2017/18 … Continue reading Looking back on another year of lecture recording

The May is Out⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

A test of snapthread which has been updated to version 2. When I tried the 1.8.1 version I rather liked it. It was then an app to stitch live photos into wee videos on iOS. Version 2 adds a lot more features. I still like it.

This video should not be used to judge the quality of the output, I used ‎CloudConvert to squash the 38MB 1440 × 1080 mp4 down to 4.5MB 1.

My class used the free version, limited to 30 seconds of video, last session a bit, we had a few crashes, but I think it is a promising app. Ease of use, limited time of the free version and lack of stickers, for now 2, are useful for the classroom. My class use iMovie and Clips too, but sometimes we might not want the greater complexity of iMovie or the wacky possibilities of clips.

Unfortunately CloudConvert doesn’t work for me on the school network, I’ve tried a few apps that convert and squash video but no really found a good one for pupils to use. I would like my pupils to be able to do that, to save space on their blogs and to speed up uploading. I am not sure on the official line on posting to silos in North Lanarkshire. Social media, especially twitter, is very popular. That is staff rather than pupil posting, I’d like my pupils to be involved in the uploading of video to their e-Portfolios and the class blog without my interference.

For Glow Blogs, I’d also like the app to change the file type to mp4 or m4v as .MOV files, that are apples favourite, don’t play nicely with all browsers. We made a change to standard WordPress functionality to accept .MOV files as video, but some browsers don’t play them. Strangely, just editing the file extension, from .MOV to .m4v works, at least for Chrome. I can’t find a way to change extensions on iOS but I’ve tested on the desktop.

FWIIW Snapthread’s videos are .MP4 when exported to the camera roll, so only need squashed for my needs.

  1. Thanks to Martin Coutts for the pointer to CloudConvert
  2. Snapthreads developer has a really interesting post about the development of the app: Journey to 2.0: Market Appeal | Becky Hansmeyer

Salt and fanCCy – My autobiography according to twitter⤴

from

Earlier this week Laura Czerniewicz posed an interesting and entertaining question on twitter…

I’ve written on this blog before about the difficulty of explaining what my job as a learning technologist involves, (What do you do? Starting out on CMALT), so I was completely stumped by Laura’s question.  When in doubt, the best course of action is always to ask twitter, and the results, which were clever, enlightening and funny, did not disappoint. Come to think of it, clever, enlightening and funny is also a pretty good description of the learning technology community on twitter 🙂

John’s suggestion refers to the fact that I have the rare honour of being immortalised in the IMS Question And Test Interoperability (QTI) specification.  Somewhere, buried in the voluminous spec documents, is an example of a multiple choice question along the lines of “Lorna is flying home, which airport is closest to her home town?” 

And then there’s Anne-Marie…

Indiana Appathon Credential Data Learn and Build⤴

from @ Sharing and learning

This week I took part in the Credential Engine’s Indiana Appathon in Indianapolis. The Credential Engine is a registry of information about educational and occupational credentials (qualifications, if you prefer; or not, if you don’t) that can be earned, along with further information such as what they are useful for, what competencies a person would need in order to earn one and what opportunities exist to learn those competencies. Indiana is one state that is working with the Credential Engine to ensure that the credentials offered by all the state’s public higher education institutions are represented in the registry. About 70 people gathered in Indianapolis (a roughly equal split between Hoosiers and the rest of the US, plus a couple of Canadians and me) with the stated intentions of Learn and Build: learn about the data the Credential Engine has, how to add more and how to access what is there, and build ideas for apps that use that  data, showing what data was valuable and potentially highlighting gaps.

circles and lines representing entity-relationship domain modelsI was there as a consequence of my project work (supported by the Credential Engine) to represent Educational and Occupational Credentials in schema.org, with the aim of helping  people understand the benefits of putting credentials on to the open web. Cue my chance to reuse here my pictures of how schema.org can act as a cross-domain unifying schema for linked data and how different domains link together from Education to HR.

I’ve been involved in a few events where the idea is to try to get people together to learn/discuss/make, and I know it is really difficult to get the right balance between structure and flexibility. Too much pre-planned activity and delegates don’t get to do what they want, too little and they are left wondering what they should be doing. So I want to emphasize how hugely impressed I was with the event organization and facilitation: Laura Faulkner and colleagues at Credential Engine and Sonya Lopes and team at Learning Tapestry did a great job. Very cleverly they gave the event a headstart with webinars in advance to learn about the aims and technology of the credential engine, and then in Indianapolis we had a series of  activities. On day one these were: cycling through quick, informal presentations in small groups to find out about the available expertise; demos of existing apps that use data from the Credential Engine; small group discussions of personas to generate use cases; generating ideas for apps based on these. On day two we split into some ‘developer’ groups who worked to flesh out some of these ideas (while the ‘publisher’ group did something else, learnt more about publishing data into the Credential Engine, I think,–I wasn’t in that group), before the developer groups presented their ideas to people from the publisher group in a round-robin “speed-dating” session, and then finally to the whole group.

I went wanting to learn more about what data and connections would be of value in a bigger ecosystem around credentials and for the more focussed needs of individual apps. This I did. The one app that I was involved with most surfaced a need for the Credential Engine to be able to provide data about old, possibly discontinued credentials so that this information could be accessed by those wanting more details about a credential held by an individual. I think this is an important thing to learn for a project that has largely focussed on use cases relating to people wanting to develop their careers and look forward to what credentials are currently on offer that are relevant to their aspirations. I (and others I spoke to) also noticed how many of the use cases and apps required information about the competencies entailed in the credentials, quite often in detail that related to the component courses of longer programs of study. This, and other requirements for fine detail about credentials, is of concern to the institutions publishing information into the Credential Engine’s registry. Often do not have all of that information accessible in a centrally managed location, and when they do it is maybe not at the level of detail or in language  suitable for externally-facing applications.

This problem relating to institutions supplying data about courses was somewhat familiar to me. It seems entirely analogous to the experiences of the Jisc XCRI related programs (for example, projects on making the most of course data and later projects on managing course-related data). I would love to say that from those programs we now know how to provide this sort of data at scale and here’s the product that will do it.., but of course it’s not that simple. What we do have are briefings and advice explaining the problem and some of the approaches that have been taken and what were the benefits from these: for example, Ruth Drysdale’s overview Managing and sharing your course information and the more comprehensive guide Managing course information. My understanding from those projects is that they found benefits to institutions from a more coherent approach to their internal management of course data, and I hope that those supplying data to the Credential Engine might be encouraged by this. I also hope that the Credential Engine (or those around it who do funding) might think about how we could create apps and services that help institutions manage their course data better in such a way that benefits their own staff and incidentally provides the data the Credential Engine needs.

Finally, it was great to spend a couple of days in sunny Indianapolis, catching up with old friends, meeting in-person with some colleagues who I have only previously met online and doing some sightseeing. Many thanks to the Credential Engine for their financial assistance in getting me there.

Photo of brick build building next to corporate towers
Aspects of Inidianapolis reminded me of SimCity 2000
White column with statues
Monument in centre of town
plan of a city grid for Inianapolis
The original city design plan (plat)
Photo of indoor market
One of the indoor markets
Fountain and war memorial
The sign said no loitering, but I loitered. That, in the background, is one of the biggest war memorials I have seen

 

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