Tag Archives: community

St Mary’s Primary School (North Ayrshire): Work-based learning opportunities through community partnerships⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

St Mary’s Primary School, finalist at the Scottish Education Awards 2017, has developed a systematic approach to career education weaving work-based learning opportunities across the curriculum.  This includes an assisted work placement programme for all P7 students with local business across a wide range of sectors from science and technology, IT and the hospitality sector.    The programme is now running in its second year.   Headteacher Mary Hume says:  “We have built excellent relationships within the town evidenced by the fact that they are willing to work with our pupils again this year but moreover, we have been able to diversify and offer more choice to our pupils.”

One of their partnerships allows pupils to shadow interpreters at Conentrix (IBM) dealing with complex issues of cyber security.  The partnership also extents to staff visiting the school to supporting the 1+2 languages agenda at St Mary’s.

This initiative sits within the wider career education programme the school offers all learners across the curriculum.  Parents and employers are co-designing and delivering exciting project work that enhances leanrers’s skills for learning, life and work.

If you want to hear more about this approach why not attend Mary Hume’s seminar at the SLF 2017 on Wednesday, 20 September @ 2pm (Baisdale2).

 

 

#TMGlasgow a Delight⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

tmglasgow

Last night I went along to TeachMeet Glasgow.

As Athole wrote:

Why unplugged? We want everyone to be prepared with something to share. And not to worry too much about the tech and their PPT slides.

from: TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) – TeachMeet Scotland

He referenced the original ScotEduBloggers meetup (the grandparent of TeachMeet) as a indication of casualness and said:

However, clearly with a better balance of men, women and youth!

More about the idea behind on Athole’s post: TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) in six steps which I’ve read a few time now and enjoyed each read:

We may be talking about ‘the tech’ but can we challenge ourselves not to hide in front of our PPT slides, tablets and media? The face to face interaction bit is crucial.

Also, we need more people to take up the mantle of organising informal teacher events, whether they be TeachMeets, Pedagoos or something else. These can be in pubs, coffee shops, schools or someone’s living room. I’m not sure the example of large chat show style events with TV production values are really within everyone’s grasp.

But that’s just my opinion. There really are no rules.

As Radio Edutalk was busy I borrowed the #DS106 Radio airwaves to broadcast live. Seemed to get a few listeners. I’ve not tried to do anything with the audio as the piano and bar buzz was quite loud.

I made a quick #tmglasgow (with images, tweets) Storify that doesn’t give a complete picture (I removed the swimsuit girls that hopped onto the hashtag).

As was pointed out at the meet, I am old enough to have been at the first TM (grey headed even then). I’ve disliked some of the directions that TM has gone, this one felt that it was on a great path. There was a quite a few folk I’ve met at TMs over the years but there were many I had not. A lot of these ‘newcommers’ brought a buzz of younger energy in the room. Athole managed not only to unplug TM but to give it a bit of a reboot too.

The Featured image on this post is a montage of some of the photos tweeted during the event. Since twitter does not support licenses I am assuming I can use them. I’ve credited each to the account that posted it…

A Profound Shift in Relationships⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

The new version of How good is our school? has come out and it makes for interesting reading. There are a few shifts of emphasis which I welcome, but I also like the new layout. The more detailed level five illustrations are helpful, and the omission of the other level illustrations is a good move also I think. I also like the short and sharp descriptions of effective practice and the challenge questions for each QI. I think this will prove a useful tool for self-evaluation at all levels.

I’m also really pleased to note that digital learning, practitioner enquiry and creativity are writ large throughout the document, however the focus of this post is on something else which leaps out from HGIOS4 to me.

Here’s what I mean…

1.2 LEADERSHIP OF LEARNING

  • We provide a wide range of opportunities and support to ensure children and young people can take responsibility for their own learning, successes and achievements. Our learners are developing the necessary resilience and confidence to enable them to make decisions about their own learning and to lead others’ learning.

2.2 CURRICULUM

  • Our curriculum is grounded in our commitment to securing children’s rights and wellbeing.

2.3 LEARNING, TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

  • Learners exercise choice, including the appropriate use of digital technology, and take increasing responsibility as they become more independent in their learning. They understand the purpose of their learning and have opportunities to lead the learning.
  • Learners are fully involved in planning learning

2.4 PERSONALISED SUPPORT

  • Children and young people are at the centre of all planning, as active participants in their learning and development.

3.1 ENSURING WELLBEING, EQUALITY AND INCLUSION

  • We ensure children and young people are active participants in discussions and decisions which may affect their lives.

3.3 CREATIVITY AND EMPLOYABILITY

  • They are motivated to explore and challenge assumptions. Children and young people take ownership of their own learning and thinking. They are imaginative, open- minded, confident risk-takers, and appreciate issues from different perspectives. They can ask questions, make connections across disciplines, envisage what might be possible and not possible, explore ideas, identify problems and seek and justify solutions.
  • They feel supported to make suitable, realistic and informed choices based on their skills, strengths and preferences. They are supported to develop an international mind-set equipping them for the rapidly changing and increasingly globalised world.

How good is our school? 4th Edition

It’s clear to me, that meaningfully involving learners in the learning and teaching process is going to become a bigger and bigger element of school self-evaluation and inspection process. Now, this isn’t exactly news. Back in 2009, when I first read Building the Curriculum 3, it was this shift which I identified as being the biggest challenge to my own practice. Back then, I jumped straight into giving it a go:

Since 2009, I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading and enquiring into this change to my approach to learning and teaching and I have become increasingly convinced that it is the way forward, however I have also concluded that it is not an easy change to make. Here is just a selection of the posts I’ve written on this blog about all this:

Every time I’ve tried this approach, it has been fantastic for both the learners and me. Everyone is more engaged, the learning is richer, deeper and more relevant. So why haven’t I done it more? Partly this is due to having been out of the classroom for 18 months on secondment and two extended periods of absence due to illness, but it’s also because it’s not easy, and is it any wonder?

I’ve just begun a course in Childhood Studies and Childhood Psychology through the OU and there’s an interesting section in the textbook on the issues surrounding the participation aspect of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 states that:

Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times.

If the six hours of learning in classrooms which young people undertake each day isn’t a matter which affects them, I’m not sure what is. However, as my OU textbook states in relation to this:

Participation rights have been particularly contested because they represent a profound shift in relationships between adults and children, and challenge conceptualisations of children as unknowing, passive and needing adults to act in their best interests…participation rights have been seen as threatening and upsetting to the status quo. (Farmington-Flint & Montgomery, 2015)

As well as this, there’s also Dylan Wiliam’s point that asking a teacher to change their teaching practice is like asking a golfer to change their golf swing, it’s not simple!

Asking teachers to make wholesale changes in their practice is a little like asking a golfer to change her swing during a tournament. Teachers have to maintain the fluency of their classroom routines, while at the same time disrupting them.

Now, I’m not saying that no-one is doing this already. But I don’t think many teachers are doing it particularly well in the Secondary phase in particular. I have heard of a few noble attempts, but for the reasons outlined above, many of these attempts don’t become a sustained and meaningful change in practice. Quite often they’re tokenistic and are doomed to fail as the teachers are only doing it because they think they should. Or, they have limited impact because although students are asked for their input, this is then largely ignored as the teacher then has to proceed with the preplanned teaching and assessment.

So given all of this, how do we move forward? In my most recent post on this (which if you haven’t already seen you should definitely look at now) my students shared their ideas on how to go about this, so I thought I’d share my own suggestions in this post…

  • Believe that it is desirable, and possible, to involve learners in the learning process and it is worth trying. If you don’t, or are not sure, read this (free) book.
  • Try to take an enquiry approach to your change. Don’t just do it because you’re being told to by Education Scotland, your leadership team or even me, research it for yourself. As well as enhancing what you do, if you propose the change as an enquiry you are more likely to get approval from your leadership team if that is an issue for you.
  • Start small. Choose one class which you think you could work with on this to give it a try. Talk to them about it in advance and explain why you’re doing it. Some classes in the past have thought that I was just being lazy when I’ve not explained it properly! Aim to do it for just one topic and then evaluate it after that.
  • Don’t try to do everything at once. This may be new to the learners as well as you, although it may not be if they’ve experienced this at primary, which many will have in some way at some time. When I first tried it I wanted the learners to collaborate on the planning, teaching and assessment…it was all a bit much. It takes time for the class as a community to work together in this way so don’t rush it. You can involve them a little to begin with, and if it works, involve them a little more in the next topic.
  • Make use of ICT as much as you can. Digital tools are fantastic for supporting this approach to learning and teaching, use them and encourage the learners to find their own ways of using them.

Here’s a list of the sorts of things I do with a topic with a new class if that’s of use as an idea to get started:

  • As mentioned above, I explain in advance how we’re going to learn and discuss with them why we’re going to learn in this way and how best to learn in this way.
  • I don’t start with the title of the topic. In fact, I never tell the class what the topic is called in our schemes of work. I start with a hook. Challenging, interesting and relevant questions which get them thinking, discussing, debating and questioning. I then capture and rationalise these questions either on post-its, or in a Google Document.
  • I bring out the experiences and outcomes for the topics and we unpick their meaning as a class. We decide what questions we would need to be able to answer to satisfy these experiences and outcomes.
  • We then bring in their own questions from the stimulus discussion. Do these overlap with any of the questions from the experiences and outcomes? Do any of them fit in with the experiences and outcomes? Which ones don’t fit in?
  • We then decide how we’ll approach the topic. We discuss which of the experiences and outcomes we should do when and how we’ll address their questions which didn’t fit in (this is quite often a research and present task).
  • They then come up with possible names for the topic and vote on it.
  • I then use all of this to go off and modify the schemes of work to what we’ve planned together. I normally find that this can just be done by making a few tweaks to what was already there because they were made with the same experiences and outcomes that we’ve just explored as a class. In terms of any summative assessments for the topic, if these have been well written from the experiences and outcomes then they shouldn’t be a major problem either…however, I’ve sometimes found that the topic tests have been tests of the scheme of work rather than a test of the learning outcomes and in these cases I adjust the test questions so that they relate to the actual learning outcomes in the experiences and outcomes, but maintain the same structure and numbers of marks etc.
  • As you and the class become more confident you can then do the above more quickly and begin exploring learning outcomes, success criteria, assessment and evaluation…but one step at a time!

Ultimately, if we’re serious about this, we have to get away from the idea of standardised learning and standardised testing. I believe that we should have a core set of knowledge which all children should  learn, but not so much that it (more than) fills the time they have to learn it. There should be sufficient space and time in the curriculum for young people to be able to contribute to the learning and teaching process, and the flexibility in the system to support and encourage it.

What is the point in asking learners for their questions if we don’t (or can’t) then make the time to answer them and check that they understood the answers? It is for these reasons that I think we need to reduce the number of experiences and outcomes, in the third and fourth level sciences at least, and support and encourage teachers to take the time to try out the approaches I’ve described above.

This is a hard change to make and to make it well is going to take leadership and support.

Farmington-Flint, L. and Montgomery, H. (2015) An introduction to childhood studies and child psychology. Open University, Milton Keynes.

Some Simple Aggregation⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

A couple of weeks ago I kicked of a blogging bootcamp as part of my day job. The idea is to help folk through getting started with class blogging. Each week for 10 weeks there are, technical tasks, discussions and blogging challenges which participating classes (or teachers) can choose to do.

My thinking is based on my own experience in a few online classes/MOOCs and, of course ds106. The bit I really wanted to do was aggregate the participants blogs back to the bootcamp blog. Hopefully this would lead to some connections and community.

I had hoped as part of the progress with glow blogs we would by now have had a plugin in place that would help with this. Unfortunately this has not happened yet.

My next though was to set up a blog outside glow, install the necessary plugin (FeedWordPress probably) and aggregate the posts there. This aggregation could be brought back to the bootcamp blog as an RSS feed.

I ended up going for much less work. I use Inoreader as my RSS reader. It has the rather nice feature when you can get an RSS feed for any of your folders of feeds. This is how it works.

After participants make their first post, they send me a link. We are asking them to categorize their posts bootcamp so I use the feed for that. For example Wemyss Bay Primary P6, their bootcamp category is:

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/in/primary6wbps/category/bootcamp/

So the RSS feed will be

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/in/primary6wbps/category/bootcamp/feed

I add that to my Inoreader and put it in the BootCamp folder:

inoreader screeshot

From the Folder Settings menu I can then get a link to the aggregated RSS feed and a page that aggregates all the posts too.

Back on the bootcamp blog I’ve added a RSS widget to the sidebar using this feed. This displays the last 20 posts from participants on the blog.

rss widget on bootcamp blog

I’d prefer to show more of the participants post on the main section of the blog but I believe this is a further wee story that shows how nice this sort of technique could be. If we get a suitable plugin in glow blogs, we could run all sots of ‘events’ and learning experiences by just aggregating participating class or school blogs through a ‘mothership’ blog.

Web Literacy Map 2.0⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

Like many education folk I follow Doug Belshaw for lots of good reasons. This week I bumped into Doug at Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Forum and launch (a lot to digest from that). Doug reminded attendees about the Survey: 5 proposals for Web Literacy Map 2.0 he is organising.

After a quick review of the Web Literacy Map and other resources Doug listed I filled in the survey.

This leads, backsides forward, to looking at the Map again. It is a great resource1 well organised and deep. It seems to add content every time I look at it. A couple of the questions were around the organisation and complexity of the map. I had a few thoughts. Given the complexity and depth of the resource I wonder if it would be interesting exposing it in different formats for folk to remix. Initially I though of JSON as I’ve made a couple of experiments with this in webmaker. I am now wondering if OPML might be an interesting approach too? This would export to most mind-mapping softwares. I’ve been playing with fargo occasionally and it might allow manipulation of the OPML too.

A Job for RSS

The other thing that I was reminded of was the series of chats Doug has been recording with interesting and interested parties. For the most part I’d seen these stream by on Tumblr and only listened to fragments. Doug has put the audio on the internet archive with a nice CC0 license, so I’ve done a little remixing of my own. I’ve uploaded an RSS feed to my google drive: http://tinyurl.com/dougweblit2chats so that I can pull the audio onto my phone. I can then subscribe to this feed in the podcast app on my phone and listen on the go. (I use overcast as my usually podcast app but thought it might be nice to have this as a temporary separate thing).

doug-chats-podcast-app

I’ve listened to the Stephen Downes episode on my commute this morning and if the rest are as interesting it will be a delight getting through them. Feel free to subscribe to the feed if you want to do the same thing, be aware I’ve made little effort to make the feed validate, the enclosures don’t have a length etc.


Footnotes:

1. Caveat, I am not working with learners and have never taught Web literacy in any depth. I did teach some of ‘this stuff’ as part of teaching ict, blogging, podcasting and the like.

TeachMeet SLF 2014⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

Wednesday 24th September 2014 from 5 for 5.30pm start – 8.00pm

At the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Third Floor, The Optima Building, 58 Robertson Street, Glasgow, G2 8DQ

Signup to talk or lurk at TeachMeet / TeachMeet SLF 2014

Looking forward to going to this. Edutalk is going to be one of the sponsors and we will be streaming audio live.

#tmslf14 looks like being the hashtag.

Grumble (age related?)

I was as usual a bit disturbed by the state of the TeachMeet Wiki front page when adding the logo, hence the slight snark in the graphic above. There have been a few attempts to improve the organisations of the wiki before and none, as far as I know, have had much success. Personally I think a front page of text links, dates, times locations and short descriptions would be nicer. Logos etc could go onto the signup page.

I wonder if the current exuberant displays of giant graphics and information could be off putting to newcomers who are thinking signing up?

FutureLearn CreativeCoding⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

sat-7

FutureLearn is a massive open online course (MOOC) platform founded in December 2012 as a company majority owned by the UK’s Open University. It is the first UK-led massive open online course platform, and as of October 2013 had 26 University partners and – unlike similar platforms – includes three non-university partners: the British Museum, the British Council and the British Library.

from: FutureLearn – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I’ve signed up for and started the Creative Coding course at FutureLearn. It looked like an interesting course and I was interested to try out the FutureLearn platform.

The Platform

Unlike some MOOCs I’ve dipped my toe into FutureLearn is based on its own platform. FutureLearn is in beta and they are developing new features and evolving the offer. They have started with the smallest feature set that they though they could.

The webpages are extremely clear and it is easy to follow the course.

The course I am doing is split into 6 weeks.

Futurelearn Creativecoding Overview

The week view gives an overview of a number of tasks to be carried out in the week.

Futurelearn Weekview

The colour of the wee square letting you know if you have completed the ‘task’.

Futurelearn Tasks Done

Each task is laid out rather like a blog post, with content at the top and a place for participants to comment. On a wide screen computer the comments appear at the side, but on my 1280 macbook they are below.

Futurelearn Post

There are already 100s of comments on most of the week one tasks.

The course encourages you to post your results to Flickr: The Monash Creative Coding Pool and to use #FLcreativecoding. The links to images can then be added in the comments. Folk are also posting images to other places, tumblr, dropbox etc.

Learning Processing

There is a fair bit of interaction going on in the comments and quite a lot of folk helping others. I’ll be interested in seeing any signs of community growing in such a large class.

The course has been very easy to work through so far as far as organization goes. Each task is clearly set out, the videos have be of good quality and very clear. As I have been doing most of this on my commute I’ve had a few problems when the Scot Rail internet connection is poor (Falkirk!). The system works very well on a technical level. If fells like reading and responding to a series of blog posts. I am sure you could do something similar on a smaller scale with a blog. I’ll be interested to see what new features FutureLearn add as time goes on.

This has been quite good fun so far. A fairly gentle introduction to the application and some basic principles in the first week. The videos and handouts have been clear. Some of the folk taking part are obviously experienced coders and it might be a bit daunting to see some of their work others seem to be taking their very first steps in programming/coding. I’ve had enough experience with baby steps to keep me going this week. I expect I might hit a trig wall at some point I had a quick look at the khan videos suggested for getting up to speed with trig but there looked like too many to watch in a reasonable time.

The Course suggests that you need at least three hours a week to keep up, I think that would be a pretty bare minimum I am guessing I have spent five or more hours and could have done with a few more to really get the week one lessons in my head.

The course is certainly not one you could drop in and out of, it seems to be pretty linear and even in the first week you would find it hard to skip many tasks unless you already had some knowledge.

So far it has got me more interested in processing that I have been and I hope I can find the time to keep up for the next few weeks.

#pedagooprimary: plotting, planning and scheming part 1⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

You may have noticed that there was a flurry of tweets last week with the #pedagooprimary hashtag, kickstarted by @fkelly. Armed with notebooks, pens and peanuts three primary tweachers met in a candle-lit alcove in the back of a pub a looooooooooong way down Leith Walk in Edinburgh on Monday evening to plot, plan and […]

#PedagooPrimary⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

@kennypieper and I seem to have created a little Pedagoo annual tradition. We meet up in Edinburgh before term starts to chat about Pedagoo, and many other things, in the midst of the fringe without actually taking part in the fringe. This year was our second year of this and was just as enjoyable as last year. One of the biggest differences however between this year and last though was our thoughts on where the Pedagoo community is going. Whereas last year we had a number of concerns, hopes, plans and ideas…this year I think we were both a lot more comfortable with how things are going just now. A couple of years ago we were constantly plotting and planning new Pedagoo things, but now we’ve reached a point where we’re a lot clearer about what we’re about and have managed to arrange things so that the community is (just about) manageable on top of our full time teaching jobs!

The one thing we’d both still like to see change about the community however is an increase in participation from our primary colleagues. Pedagoo is all about sharing classroom practice, no matter what the sector, but there is a bit of a bias towards Secondary. We do have loads of fantastic primary folk contributing, but the community does seem to have many more secondary teachers sharing. Kenny suggested we run a Primary event to try to help rectify this. In the past I’ve been very reticent about any such themed events. Our events, like our website and #PedagooFriday, have always been open to all with the core focus being classroom practice, and I would like things to continue this way. I believe we’ve got a lot to learn from colleagues from other sectors, and the more we know about each other’s roles the more we’ll be able to understand and support our learners’ education journey as a whole.

However, Pedagoo has been going for over three years now and we’ve still to attract primary teachers in the numbers we’d like…perhaps it’s time to try something different. So, I’m up for the idea. We could have a Pedagoo event which aims explicitly to attract lots of primary teachers along to share and join in. I can’t think of a better way of doing that than calling it #PedagooPrimary. To be clear though,  I don’t see this as being the first of a series of events. I certainly don’t envisage there being a #PedagooSecondary or anything else of the ilk. I would like to see the rest of our future events having the open and collaborative approach we’ve taken up till now, but hopefully with more primary folk joining in having been persuaded by their participation in the #PedagooPrimary event.

Given that I’m a secondary teacher, I’m not actually organising this proposed event…there’s already a group of primary teachers taking ownership of the idea (and you can join in too if you want by checking out the #PedagooPrimary hashtag). So, this’ll be all I have to say on the idea. I just wanted to be clear in why I’m supportive of this idea and yet still cautious about any further suggestions of themed events. Pedagoo events already have a focus: classroom practice. #PedagooPrimary should help us to broaden the conversation at our future Pedagoo events and online.

Continuous Improvement⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

I don’t know if you have, but I hadn’t heard much about the new Curriculum, Learning, Teaching and Assessment National Forums from Education Scotland. They’re not a secret, but I suppose that as they’re in the process of being set up just now there’s not much of a fanfare being made yet. You can read much more about them in Annex C of this CfE Management Board paper.

I’ve been invited to join the Core Group of the National Digital Learning Forum which met for the first time last month. Not knowing anything about it really in advance, I traveled through to Glasgow with low expectations. The word forum to me implies a lot of talking and not a lot of action. As Annex C in the document above suggests, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The plan for these new forums seems to be to develop a coherent approach to continuously improving our curriculum and therefore avoid the cycle of ‘big bang’ reforms. The principles of CfE are broad enough to potentially avoid a major reform in the foreseeable future as long as we continually improve the detail. These forums are an innovative attempt to bring together the people who are delivering the curriculum with those with the power to bring about any required changes. Clever, huh?

Not only was I impressed by the overall purpose of these forums, I was also pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming focus of the National Digital Learning Forum paperwork being on learning – which, as you’ll be able to tell from my recently revised about page, is pretty much what I’m all about. Technology matters, but learning comes first.

So, it’s still very early days, but I’m impressed so far…and if you get a tap on the shoulder to join one of the other forums, seriously consider it. I think they’re going to be better than they sound.