Students have the knowledge, now they need the power!

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.

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Navigation of your Fronter building

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.

Improving Biology grades with Fronter!

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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%

graph-1

 

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%

graph-2

 

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!”
Sarah Sakimoto
Key Stage 3 Science Coordinator

Different ways to use Fronter at Southend High School for Girls

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Southend High School for Girls was founded as a co-ed school in 1895. However in 1913 the school split and the girls school was established in its own right. They have excellent arts and physical education reputations. They are the top athletics team in the country for both juniors and intermediates (2008 and 2009) and came third at the World Schools Athletics competition in June 2009. Whilst as a Language College and an International Award School they are developing the global curriculum in school and in Southend. SHSG has just been accredited by the DfE as teacher trainers and are running a PGCE scheme across a range of subjects. Trainees will be encouraged to use Fronter for both their training and their subject delivery. They are also a Gold level Pearson Champion School for Fronter.

Using Fronter
A favourite Fronter tool is the Collaborate live classroom tool. Collaborate is used to link up classes and/or schools for special events. A popular special event are transition lessons. These are held for Year 6 pupils moving into Year 7 and is a great way to get to know new pupils joining school in September and for them to get to know the current pupils and teachers at their new school. Transition lessons are also held for Year 11 pupils moving up into Sixth Form to better prepare pupils on what to expect and give them a head start.

QR Codes
Instead of making notes that probably won’t make sense when read through again later, pupils create their own videos in lessons using the educreations app and a set of class iPads. These videos are then stored on Fronter so pupils can easily create QR codes which link to the videos and add this to their exercise books. This means when it comes to revision time at the end of the term or year, pupils can easily scan the QR codes in their exercise books with the class iPads and be taken straight to the videos from previous lessons. All links are also stored on Fronter so if a pupil doesn’t have a smartphone or tablet at home they can still log in to Fronter at home and access all lesson links and continue with their revision.

Maths Angels
Every night except Fridays and Saturdays from 6.30-7.45 ‘Angels’ man the online tutoring room in Fronter. These Angels are made up of Sixth Form Mathematicians who have volunteered to mentor younger pupils in the school. If there are pupils who may be struggling with Maths in general or with a specific homework task they can log on to Fronter and enter the room where the Maths Angels will be waiting to help out with any questions. This is a great way to support pupils who may need a little extra help to achieve their personal learning outcomes,  and it is also a fantastic skill and experience for the older pupils to include on their university application forms.

Video Banks
Sarah Imbush, Head of Maths at the school creates a bank of lesson videos by teaching in Collaborate and storing them on Fronter, so those who miss the lesson for whatever reason can still stay up to date on what their class is being taught. This is also a useful tool when revision time comes around. Sarah also holds online evening lessons every Sunday and Thursday where pupils can ask questions on certain subjects if they don’t feel confident enough to ask the question in class. There are also holiday time sessions for Year 11 transition into Sixth Form for AS Maths, this is particularly useful for pupils joining the Sixth Form from other schools who may have gaps in their GCSE knowledge.

Teachers Teaching and Learners Learning: Part 3

So, there was a Maths teacher, a Music teacher and an English teacher who all used Fronter in their schools –  then what do you think happened?

Today’s blog post looks at how three teachers have created best online learning practice via Fronter to achieve improved learning outcomes for their pupils. We’ll meet a very special Maths teacher in Southend,  an enormously talented English teacher in Barnet, and an amazing Music teacher from Belfast. All of these wonderful teachers and schools appear (or will appear over coming weeks) in dedicated blog posts of their own, but in this article, I’ll shine a light on them all together.

Pizza maths

Sarah Imbush at Southend High School for Girls has been using a video conferencing tool in Fronter for many years now. Collaborate (formerly Elluminate) has been used for activities such as the Biggest Maths lesson in the World with Rachel Riley and the NSPCC, which with Sarah’s expert guidance was a great success in bringing pupils all all abilities into a fun and productive massive maths lesson!

Star Connection

Rachel Riley, host of the famous TV quiz show Countdown was invited by Sarah to deliver the huge maths lesson to around 700 eager pupils live online. Rachel, a former pupil of Southend High School for Girls has helped out on several occasions with the world beating maths challenge.  Sarah and the pupils are always delighted to have someone of Rachel’s star quality on board, especially when she delivers such tasty learning in the form of online pizza-maths!

Maths Challenge

Pizza, Pascal + Pennies = Fractals!

Rachel’s masterclass lesson used the intriguing theme of ‘Pizza, Pascal and Pennies’ as she skilfully engaged the attention of pupils aged 8 through to 18 in the topic of Fractals.  The aim of the lesson was to grip pupils’ attention, getting them really involved in what is sometimes seen as a ‘difficult’ topic.  In the event, pupils were so engaged they hardly even noticed they were learning.

Maths Mentoring in Fronter

More recently, Sarah set up a dedicated Maths mentoring room with a focus on helping younger pupils achieve personal maths learning outcomes. The room is monitored daily by older student mentors known as Maths Angels,  and has been seeing rewarding results for both mentors and mentees. The Maths Angels are Sixth Formers who find that their experience of maths mentoring is a useful and meaningful addition to their University application forms, and the Year 7 pupils who receive the mentoring are gaining confidence in their own maths ability and setting the fundamentals in place for real progress towards their own personal learning goals. A win-win situation as they say.

Online mentors

Music to our ears!

In Belfast,  Beverley Cripps of Ashfield Girls’ High School set up a project to assess Year 9 students’ knowledge of the symphony orchestra. Her pupils benefited not only from the instant results and feedback provided by the test, but found they became more generally enthusiastic about the subject matter, were more motivated to learn and showed a significant improvement in terms of their learning outcomes when compared to previous cohorts who had not been involved in learning via Fronter. Result!

Online mentors

 

Literacy Leaders and Fronter

Clare Thompson, Director for English at Whitefield School in Barnet set up a very successful Literacy Leaders Scheme. This involved Yr 11 students mentoring Yr 7 students, both in weekly face to face reading sessions and regular online forum conversations using Fronter forums.

Over the course of the project, Clare observed that the Yr 11 Literacy Leaders improved personal confidence in their knowledge and expertise about a range of English language skills even though they were already recognised as being strong in this subject. Being given a position of responsibility clearly encouraged these older students to make sure they had fully researched and consolidated the skills and knowledge they needed before engaging with Yr 7s in reading and forum tasks .

Clare also reported that Yr 7 students in the literacy project displayed more confidence and accuracy in their skills as a result of the one to one help from Year 11s and from the quiet opportunities to ask questions  and develop problem solving skills via Fronter forums. As a result, Year 7 homework showed improvements as did the level of care taken over completing English tasks. This in turn boosted pupils’ pride in their work and spurred them onto greater efforts towards achieving their own personal learning outcomes.

The remarkable success of the Whitefield Literacy project with Years 11 and 7 this year means that next year Clare expects to involve the whole school, including staff. This should give a real boost to literacy learning outcomes across the school.

Online mentors

…and the answer to the question at the top of this post

Great news for learning outcomes all round. 🙂

In the next post in this mini-series, I’ll be taking some time to look at the Individual Learning Plan tool in Fronter (or the ILP as we fondly call it) and exploring how it can be used to monitor progress towards learning outcomes.

Thanks for reading!

Jane Harris
@virtualjane

Clore Tikva Primary School and their international partner school

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Clore Tikva is a two form entry Jewish Voluntary Aided primary school and nursery for children aged three to eleven. Open since 1999, they are located close to the centre of Barkingside, in the London Borough of Redbridge. Housed in a well designed modern building, their children enjoy stimulating surroundings and facilities that support their learning.

Clore and Kerner Partnership
Children and parents have an understanding that Israel is central to the schools’ Jewish ethos. The school is part of the “Living Bridge” programme and has a long standing link with a primary school in the north of Israel.

“We have been partnered with Kerner School, Israel for the last 8 years. During this time we have had delegations of teachers and pupils visit Clore Tikva from the Kerner School as well as teachers and pupils from our school visiting their school in Israel.”

As well as helping to develop the pupil’s Jewish identities, the project has also allowed the pupils from both schools to understand the similarities and differences in how they live their lives, learn about each other’s education, their respective countries and each cultural similarities and differences, to unite and bridge the children between the two countries.

How does Fronter help?
In 2012 the school decided they wanted to involve more of the school in the project, as not everyone has an opportunity to visit Israel and to communicate with Kerner School. To aid with this they created a, “Clore – Kerner Partnership” Room. They created three accounts in Fronter for the Kerner School, so the children from both schools could collaborate and share work and other information freely with each other. In 2012 the Room was in its infancy, however they found the use of a discussion forum helpful in directly communicating with each other, as well as sharing work with each other based around Jewish festivals and celebrations and they focussed on finding out as much as they could about each other’s ways of life.

How has the school moved on?
In 2013 the school developed things further. They now have a shared Topic each year, which they study together. The shared room is a place where resources are shared in relation to the topic both schools are studying. As the project has continued they have all built a wealth of shared resources and so are able to now begin to share a variety of different media, including a slideshow of pictures, videos, as well as still using the room for the children to upload and share their work. The use of Fronter has enabled Clore Tikva Primary School to directly communicate and work with Kerner School. It has enabled Clore Tikva to feel part of their partner school and vice versa, the children love to see the work and comments made by their Israeli partners, the staff find using Fronter a great way to communicate and share their teaching and learning ideas. It enables a secure and stimulating environment for their pupils to access a bit of Israel and has been very useful.

Champion School Event

On Friday 5th December 2014 teachers from our Fronter Champion Schools gathered together for their Winter “Sharing is Caring” event. The day consisted of presentations from some of our bravest participants who showed us what they have been doing with Fronter over the past year and shared with us the hard work of their colleagues and pupils in Fronter.

From the presentations we learnt about:

  • The power of making pupils owners of a room so that they take full ownership over Fronter – at Campsbourne Junior School this has resulted in pupils moderating forums and creating and publicising their own content, following the example set by their teachers. The School Council have a very successful room which consists entirely of forums so that all the pupils can have their say on the really important matters – the toilets and the playground!
  • Hollymount School have created an iPad room which provides resources, tips and lessons to their own teachers and other schools in the borough who are using iPads in education. This room helps to provide CPD for teachers and is collaborative, allowing teachers to share what has worked for them and even includes videoed lessons so that teachers can find plenty of material to help them in their move to mobile learning.
  • At Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School a clear and clean design helps teachers and pupils to navigate easily and proficiently. A well embedded VLE is bridging the gap between their two servers – one admin and one curriculum – so that all resources are available to everyone, everywhere, at any time. Using the Brainstorming Forum tool they have created “Virtual Problem Boxes” for pupils to suggest issues in computing lessons for others to try and solve.
  • At Park High School a careers room is providing pupils with all the resources and links they need to make an informed choice on their steps when choosing exam paths in school and then on to Post 16 and Post 18 choices. A Performance Management room allows teachers to easily find resources to request CPD training and also gives them access to all feedback from their line manager, as well as allowing for an ongoing dialogue with their mentors and line managers. This has given all staff a transparent view of Performance Management across the school and new staff are able to get up to speed quickly and to take ownership of their career path.

We also spent some time catching up on some of the new functionality in Fronter, including the wonderful new Assignment Tool which was met with great enthusiasm. Over the morning some debates were sparked into subjects such as the use of tablets in education and the many different possible Fronter navigation paths, which we know vary greatly as no two schools are the same!

The Champion Schools will be sharing even more resources this year and these will become available on the Champion Schools website in the run up to BETT in January, so watch this space!