By Tina Shari
This week I decided to get out of the office and tag along with one of our fab trainers, Mark, for a few hours while he went on a school visit. We went to see East Barnet School in North London who were one of our original pilot schools and have been using Fronter ever since.
Mark and I met with Janet and Stephen, who are both Fronter administrators at the school. They told us how the Design & Technology, Science, Music and Humanity departments are all using Fronter in different ways. The key Fronter tools in use at the moment throughout these departments are Tests, Hand-in tool, the Today page, News RSS feeds and video streaming. They plan to do a re-launch of Fronter in the autumn term to get even more departments, teachers and pupils using it both in class and for homework. Both Janet and Stephen are currently developing the use of Fronter and Microsoft Office 365 and are planning to implement Microsoft OneDrive to all staff in the next academic year.
The plans for the future use of Fronter within the school cover the implementation of a new Today page with lots of ideas already developed. Create channels for teachers and students (This is great for events, school trips and even communicating with parents). Encouraging more teachers to download the new Fronter Messaging app, attendance at one of our Fronter CSS training courses for members of staff and they also plan to attend the Fronter Conference in November. So lots of exciting things coming up!
Stephen from East Barnet School had this to say about our visit;
“It’s fantastic to finally hear that Fronter are pushing forward with new apps and other developments, as well as going back to their roots.
I think the school visits are very important for you guys and this is something that needs to be done. I can imagine it takes a lot of your time. However, it has raised the confidence level in pushing the Fronter platform forward within EBS.”
Woodbridge School are kindly hosting a Fronter afternoon on Friday 1st May. Would you like to find out more about the creative use of student forums and other Fronter tools? Or perhaps an opportunity to share good practice in the use of Fronter?
Sign up to come to Woodbridge School on Friday 1st May at 4pm for a session with other local Fronter schools.
For further information and to book a place please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 30th April 2015.
Spaces are limited so book now!
In the run up to this year’s General Election, Fronter is launching a competition to help teachers encourage pupils to become more involved in Citizenship and what’s going on in the world.
First Prize winners will be invited to lunch, where they can take in the magnificent view of London from the famous 10th floor balcony at Pearson’s headquarters in the Strand, where Winston Churchill used to survey damage caused during the Second World War.
What you need to do to enter:
Pupils – create a General Election Fronter Page
Teachers – create a General Election Fronter Room
What the judges will be looking for:
- Original information, text and ideas
- Interesting use of photographs or images
- Exciting use of a range of Fronter tools
- Carefully selected links to related info
- Videos can be added i.e. YouTube or other
How to enter:
Submit entries via our pupil and teacher entry forms. (Teachers need to submit on behalf of pupils)
The closing date for entries is Thursday 7th May 2015, entries received after this date will not be entered into the prize draw. Winners will be notified on Monday 1st June by email.
Download our competition flyer!
Every Champion School we visit is different. No two are the same. Whether primary or secondary or infants, they all use Fronter in different ways and to achieve different goals. They all have Fronter embedded but some started using Fronter from the Staff Room out – a communication tool for teachers and support staff to use to pick up newsletters, diaries and policies. Other schools start with student pages – exciting content, forums, tests, home learning opportunities. Some start with home school links – parent pages, sharing photos of work, using individual folders to provide targets and helpful homework tips.
Each of our Champions Schools using Fronter have made it a success via whichever route suited them best and it is now embedded into the daily life of the school community.
So how do they keep it fresh? Well, many Champion Schools have now trained up an army of helpers in the form of students! From Key Stage 1 all the way to Key Stage 5, student-created content is creating a buzz in Fronter buildings across the land!
From something as simple as changing the votes to something new each week, all the way to students who manage their entire form room online, students having the power and ownership of Fronter has a huge impact. Students may start with non-learning related items – favourite songs and football teams for example, but quickly start to follow the example set by teachers. Students set up learning opportunities, link to educational sites they find and also give a voice to other pupils by asking them what they want to see on Fronter.
The knock on positive effect in terms of e-safety has also been huge with Campsbourne Junior School recently showing us how pupils have started to moderate each other on forums, letting other pupils know when their contributions are not appropriate to the discussion in hand.
Often we spend hours making loads of fantastic pages and rooms in Fronter. Wonderful ideas which engage and excite students while keeping them up to date with their current learning. However the whole system falls down if the students find it difficult to navigate to these wonderful places you have lovingly created. If content is king, then navigation is queen in your Fronter building!
Top Tips from recent visits to Champion Schools include:
- Have clear icons on each landing page so that people can choose their navigation route simply and find the links they need on each page with minimal scrolling
- For a secondary school there are a number of choices – do you want to go to Year groups, then subjects? Or subjects then split by year group? Or shared departmental resource areas with classrooms used just for Hand-ins? The possibilities are endless but make a whole school choice so that the students are clued up and find navigation straightforward
- Student teams who feed back to the Fronter administrator can ensure that pupil voice makes an impact – let them show you what they use the most so that you can make sure these areas are easy to navigate to
- Show teachers and students how to “Add Favourite Rooms” to their personal toolbar for quick and easy access to their most used areas of Fronter
- Use the Portfolio tool or Statistics of each room to keep track of the most and least used rooms so that you can explore the reasons why. What do the most used rooms have that the least used don’t? Share best practice across the school.
The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls is a successful, multicultural comprehensive school located in Ealing, West London. The school became a specialist college for Science and Maths in 2002, re-designated in 2006 and 2009 and, following recognition as a High performing Specialist School, was awarded Training School status in 2007. The school has gained a variety of awards recognising its strengths in areas from success in adding value (Specialist Schools Award) to Investor in People (since 1999). The school is particularly proud of the SSAT Gold Award for Cultural Diversity. A recent Ofsted report also recognised the girls’ outstanding personal development and well-being. The school is in the top 100 Value Added schools in the country and are also a Silver Level Pearson Champion School.
Being smart with Fronter
In the academic year of 2011-12 Sarah Sakimoto, a teacher at the school, decided to monitor and break down the amount of pupils who had used Fronter when revising for their final grades in biology against those pupils who had not. Of the top 20 pupils who used Fronter the most for Biology (number of documents opened ranged from 208 to 34) the grade breakdown was as follows:
A = 40%
B = 15%
C = 5%
D = 20%
E = 10%
U = 10%
Of the top 20 pupils who used Fronter the least for Biology (number of documents opened ranged from 7 to 0) the grade breakdown was as follows:
A = 5%
B = 20%
C = 20%
D = 10%
E = 15%
U = 30%
You can see from the two graphs that those pupils who regularly used Fronter had higher biology grades than those pupils who had not used Fronter. There are other factors involved so we cannot say for certain that grades were higher purely because of Fronter but it certainly shows what a great influence and impact Fronter can have on pupils’ results when used in a thoroughly engaging way.
“Our biology results have gone up consistently for the past five years and I think that having and using the Fronter learning platform has played a huge part in that!”
Key Stage 3 Science Coordinator