Archive for November 16th, 2015

Daily Writing~Tips: well lush

| November 16, 2015 | 0 Comments 

If, like me, you find it difficult to decide when you should, and shouldn’t, have a comma in a sentence, then you might find Daily Writing Tips useful. It is, also, a collection of handy teaching tools. (sic)

I used to be really confident about punctuation. The need for speed, and constant variety, means that I have become more confused, and inaccurate. My spolling is attroshus two.

Daily Writing Tips contains searchable guides, quizzes (and so much more) on grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary …and other aspects of written language.

Please forgive us our mistakes. Even better, quietly send us a nudge. We love to be told (nicely) when we have made a mistake. Any learner does, like, don’t they do, eh?

Schools in Northern Ireland ~ Belfast

| November 16, 2015 | 0 Comments 

Ashfield Girls Secondary School Belfast

We were honoured today to be invited to visit schools in Belfast, to see what they are up to with their use of technology to enhance lessons.

We started at  Ashfield Girls Secondary School, Belfast.

Ashfield Girls Principal is Mrs Alison Mungavin. The school is an all-Girls Secondary school.

Technology in Ashfield Girls’ provides opportunities for pupils to expand their knowledge beyond the boundaries of a classroom; allows flexibility and freedom to teachers who can adapt the pace and challenge of a lesson to suit the individual pupils; creates an excitement and purpose for learning and most importantly prepares pupils for the inevitable technological infused lifestyle of the 21st Century.

However, it’s not simply within the classroom environment in Ashfield Girls’ – it permeates and infuses every aspect of school life. Relationships with parents and involvement from parents in the life of the school in enhanced by software we have invested in, such as teachers2parents text service and Show My Homework.

The leadership team has a clear vision for the way in which technology can enhance teaching and learning and this is understood and shared by the staff and students. The strategies adopted are fully consistent with the vision and are being effectively implemented. There is a particular focus on applications of technology that reduce the administrative burden on teachers and frees them to focus on effective teaching. Particularly effective use is made of the Fronter VLE to allow staff within departments to share resources. The school also makes very effective use of technology to extend the learning window and ensure that parents are well-informed about expectations with regard to homework. Students really value the fact that they are able to catch up online if they have missed a lesson and feel that the use of technology in many subjects increases their motivation and engagement as well as enabling them to demonstrate their achievement in a variety of ways.

The school has made particularly effective use of Accelerated Reader to improve reading in KS3. By linking this use closely to special needs support and carefully targeting the pupils who can benefit most, the school has achieved significant gains. The strategy of ensuring that staff are well trained in the use of mobile technologies before rolling these out across the school has meant that the class sets of iPads that have now been purchased are being used very effectively in many subjects. The school has taken a mature approach to the use of mobile phones in school and students are allowed to use their phone cameras with teacher permission to record work – for example in science practical activities. In addition to the widespread use of Fronter, 6th form science students are linked to the Blackboard VLE at the University of Ulster so that they can benefit from the materials it contains.

We then headed on to Harberton Special School, Belfast

Their Principal is Mr M McGlade. This school is a truly special school.

In Harberton Special School and Outreach Services the use of technology to transform and enhance teaching and learning is a major part of the school ethos. It is a high preference on the school strategic plan and the school development plan. Both these long term and medium term plans inform the yearly action plan for the school(see attachment – ICT section of the schools yearly action plan). These plans ensure that the use of technologies and ICT are embedded across the curriculum in all curriculum areas. This emphasis of the use of technology is encouraged from all aspect of the school’s management structure. These plans are shared with all stakeholders involved in the school. They are ratified by the board of governors, published on the school website, shared with parents as part of a yearly report, displayed on the school notice board and submitted to the Education Authority. An ICT handbook is provided to all members of staff which clearly states the schools high expectations on the effective and innovative use of technologies across the curriculum and in all departments. The school has made substantial investments in new innovative technologies.

The creative use of technology is transforming the life chances of pupils in this Special school. It is a key component of providing access to learning for many children with complex needs and the school has utilised an array of both simple and sophisticated technologies to improve their young peoples’ engagement, motivation, behaviour and attainment. It was also clear technology played a key role in tracking pupils’ progress – of particular importance in a context where learning gains can be of massive significance even when they are relatively small, incrementally. The use of Green Screen technology to immerse children in situations that would otherwise be precluded and the use of QR codes to make a discovery journey around a shared outdoor learning area an interactive rather than passive experience were just two examples of the very many ways the embedding of technology was helping Harberton’s youngsters, and its staff, to make learning and teaching an exciting and rewarding experience. The school has managed to prioritise impact by the judicious use of targeted investment and evaluated how effective it is – ensuring technology is delivering improved outcomes.

There were many things that impressed about Harberton – not least a quite superb, dedicated, hard-working group of staff who gave tirelessly of themselves to help their children; but, in terms of technology focus, most impressive amongst these were (i) the use of robots to engage learners with communication challenges and (ii) how technology used as part of a rewards strategy was helping to improve the achievement of Autistic youngsters with challenging behaviour. The latter was presented to us by one student on behalf of another who was ill on the day of our visit – and his efforts to explain what he saw as how his friend’s experience of school had been transformed was both humbling and inspirational.

In the afternoon, we had a meeting with C2k elearning team.

The C2K project and Capita provide the infrastructure and services to support the enhanced use of ICT in schools in Northern Ireland.

It was also good to visit The Titanic Centre for a seminar run through for tomorrow, especially as our presentation will be seen by so many schools across Northern Ireland.

A big thank you to Lynsey Parkes, Senior Marketing Executive at Capita Managed IT Solutions for organising our day and to Glenn Parkinson who was responsible for hosting the day, and did so in style.

Thanks too to: Steve Moss, Steve Smith, Glenn Parkinson, Averil Morrow, and a few others for “time out’ later.