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.

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

It’s all about resources for our Champion Schools

The focus for the Fronter Champion Schools this term is all about resources. They have been creating and sharing with us lots of fantastic Fronter help tools, which will soon be shared on the Pearson Champion Schools website – so watch this space!

The resources due to be released include a ‘Getting Started with Fronter’ guide from Haydon School in Hillingdon. The guide will take new Fronter users through the basics of getting their Fronter rooms ready for pupils in clear and concise detail and will soon be yours to download, adapt, keep and share with your staff. A big thank you to Haydon School for sharing their hard work!

We also have guides from a number of schools showing how they have set up their Fronter buildings, especially in relation to how their staff and pupils navigate to their resources. With screen shots and handy hints, we hope these guides will give some inspiration and ideas, as well as showing that no two schools are ever the same!

We are also producing a whole catalogue of case studies and help files with the support of the Champion Schools so that you can see what is making Fronter so successful in their schools and how you can replicate these ideas in your own.

If you would like to ‘buddy up’ with one of our Champion Schools or would like to share resources of your own please email pearson.champions@pearson.com or our Champion Schools Coordinator Jodie Lopez.

“Why we use Fronter at King James’s School”

King James School banner

King James’s School is a large, highly successful, age 11- 18 comprehensive school in North Yorkshire. With a Charter and foundation dating back to 1616, they have an enviable tradition, identity and ethos. They aim to combine a modern curriculum with an innovative use of new technology which includes Fronter. They are also a Gold level Pearson Champion School for Fronter.

Why we use Fronter
1. Communication: We are a large comprehensive school with approximately 1650 students, over 120 teachers and an army of support and administration staff.
2. Resources: We want to ensure that all students get access to the same resources, no matter who their teacher is.
3. Exams & Homework: The students should have quick and clear links to all homework and exam information including exam papers, mark schemes and revision web
sites. We want to develop independent learning in our students and a greater emphasis on ‘flip teaching’ so that students use resources to prepare for their lessons.

Staff Communication
Fronter allows easy communication for all key information that staff may require. The Staff Home Room provides links to key information in the Teaching & Learning Hub, Leadership & Management Data and vital Staff Essentials through a one-stop shop. It also provides a notice board for staff to communicate important events in a central way through the News tool.

Permanent Rooms
The Fronter structure run by King James’s School uses permanent rooms for the whole virtual building. This means that rooms constantly develop and their content essentially rolls over from one year to the next but the student members change with each new academic year. The admin team set up the folders and permissions using information on our Management system (CMIS) and these are updated throughout the year when groups change or new students start.

Department Rooms
All subject areas have their own room tailored to their requirements. The rooms are managed by the head of department and maintained by teachers within the department. Each Department Room has links to pages for specific Years and courses and also to subject teacher rooms. Many Department Rooms also contain links to online homework packages and additional resources students can use for independent study.

As a minimum each subject room will have links to exam board, past papers and mark schemes for GCSE and A level classes. Many departments have much more. For example, the science GCSE chemistry component room shown here has subject specific videos embedded, links to revision sites for all the topics and links to end of unit tests to be used for revision. Increasingly more use is being made of Fronter to show exemplar work to students so that they can understand what we mean by the success criteria for a given task. All departments are at different stages of development, but all have rooms that are in use and are progressing well.

Teaching Rooms
Teachers then have the option to run their own Teaching Room providing individual resources to support learning in lessons or independent study for homework. Teachers are encouraged to maintain a homework notice board within their room so that students (and parents) can check on details from home and absent students may catch up on work missed. Teaching Rooms can be accessed via the ‘Room’ link or by the relevant Department Room. All staff can personalise their own teaching room, though exemplars are established for those less confident users.

Resources can be uploaded and linked to Fronter rooms, then used as a means of setting homework. For example: on a teacher’s home room a Year 7 class may be directed to that teacher’s Year 7 room to complete energy homework 4. The student can then download the worksheet (or other task) at home. Teachers may also upload and link resources to help with homework and revision.

Forums and discussions can also be set up within a teaching room. This can be very useful for students to ask questions on classwork/homework and also for the teacher to pose questions for students to discuss; again often as a homework activity.

Training
Throughout, specialist training has underpinned everything. A super-user group meets regularly and staff teams are given time and support to develop their rooms.

Fronter Usage
The growing success of our VLE is reflected in our most recent statistics which show both staff and students making excellent use of Fronter. Students are making thousands of logons a month and usage was dramatically higher from Jan 13 – Mar 13 compared to a similar period 12 months earlier. Also of note are the increased logons of Year 11 and sixth form students in November, just prior to exam season.

fronter usage

How can I use Fronter more?

Are you the only person using Fronter in school? If so, getting other people to help manage the system will drive up its usage. Why not encourage your colleagues to join the ‘Two Day Training Programme’, designed to guide new teachers and staff through their first meeting with Fronter.

Another option would be to talk to other schools using Fronter to find out just how they use the system, take a look at our forum  and ask a question – our Champion schools are happy to offer guidance. Champion Schools often open a small section of their Fronter learning platform for other schools to get inspiration from too.

There are also some of our Customer Stories or Tips and Tricks for more ideas available on our websites.

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