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.
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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%

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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

Using Fronter at St Matthew Academy

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St Matthew Academy is a school for all the family and takes girls and boys from the age of three to the age of 16. Through their specialism of Enterprise they give their students every opportunity to develop initiative, creative thinking and collaborative skills through the academy’s programmes and events and through links with local businesses.

St Matthew Academy has used Fronter to apply their BTEC work collaboration across the school in order to communicate to other Primary and Secondary schools across their borough. Several projects have been created in the VLE, including an applied science room, which incorporates PSP’s, voting, hand in folders and forums.

“Hand in folders, forums, all the basic tools are very effective for the staff and the students engage with it easily.”

Students are encouraged to work at home and hand in homework via Fronter. This means that even if a student is away from school through illness, they can keep up with deadlines and discuss topics relating to the subject. This has resulted in more students being able to stay on track with their learning outcomes, and a huge increase in overall attainment level in the BTEC science course with an improvement in student grades. Ben Smith (Head of Science) adds;

“Fronter was a key part in using the BTEC, it was there to solve the problem to keep the students communicating.”

The next project the school worked on was a 6 year medical project course starting in February 2012 titled “Home grown doctors in Lewisham.” Using Fronter they hope to create a “transition room” and a “Lewisham St Matthew’s room” to help bring the surrounding schools’ activities together using it essentially as an online journal with an interest to use Collaborate as a recruitment tool.

“It’s beneficial to go with other schools in the area that are using Fronter. You can collaborate with tasks and work across the borough.”

Fronter – 21st century tool for a 21st century education

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Enfield Grammar School created a Citizenship Fronter room for students to log in. The homepage is what students first encounter when they visit the room, where they can find links provided to complete student voice surveys, access current affairs and see what is new on Fronter. There’s also a homework reminder section, links to relevant Citizenship research and information websites, a feedback section about the room and educational related videos.

Do students use the Citizenship Fronter Room?
Fronter enables the teacher to keep track of the usage of the room over time. From the start of September 2012 – end of January 2013 there were:

  • 3000 Individual hits
  • 8000 Documents viewed/downloaded by students
  • 530 discussion forum comment left across 20 discussion topics
  • 400 Different students have logged on to the Citizenship Fronter room

Gifted & Talented Section

Students can access further reading on the topics studied within citizenship. Students can look at detailed PowerPoints embedded into the Fronter London MLE to stretch their knowledge base. The G&T cohort would also be able to attempt challenging project work in the near future.

Student Voice

The Citizenship discussion area on Fronter allows students a safe and controlled space where they can debate and discuss the latest current affairs or give virtual feedback about the school and each others work.

 Years 7, 8 & 9 landing pages

When students enter through the home page to the landing pages they have a host of information, resources and guidance about PSHE & Citizenship education. The rooms provide support for all students including those that are on the SEN register or the G&T register.

“Assessment criteria, support and help is provided in a virtual way to any student, learning support assistant or parent to help support their child progress in citizenship.”

Why is this useful? 

  • Students who are absent can view the PowerPoint and catch up on missed work
  • All teaching assistants are able to see what topics are likely to be taught in upcoming units
  • Any student in seclusion or excluded can still access the course content and keep up with the class
  • If students wanted to show their parents what they will be studying it is there to be accessed

Year 10 GCSE Citizenship landing page

Assessment criteria, support and help is provided in a virtual way to any students when completing their coursework and controlled assessment pieces. Checklists of what to do and downloadable fact file resource pages are also available.

GCSE Students are able to download and view each lessons PowerPoint. Students have access to download a homework sheet incase they lose theirs.

Extension A*-C homework tasks can be set to stretch the most able students and ensure they aspire to exceed their target grades.

For those students who prefer to learn from multimedia, recommended ‘videos to watch’ links are provided and podcasts are available about the different topics.

Year 11 GCSE Citizenship landing page
Help and support for the Y11 controlled assessment is provided in the form of Prezi-Presentations and YouTube clips.

Y11 GCSE Students can also print out the lesson notes and create their own citizenship revision material.

They also have access to view and download all the Y10 GCSE work and revision notes and homeworks so they can re-cap the units taught last year for their upcoming exams.

Setting emergency cover work
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section where cover work can be uploaded and saved for a later date. Both print outs for students to fill in or PowerPoints for the cover teacher to work through can be provided.

Encouraging students to read
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section where links are posted about recent events in the news or newspaper articles which may be relevant to topics being taught or the GCSE examination content.

Citizenshipgames room
The Citizenship Fronter room has a section students are actively encouraged to play educational games related to content taught within the citizenship national curriculum.

The Literacy Leaders’ Project at Whitefield School

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Whitefield School is a unique and exciting school and one of the most improved schools in the country with a global student body that speaks over 70 different languages. As an Academy and the first Full Service Extended School in Barnet they are renowned for their community links. Staff and students have spoken at national conferences about their community outreach work and in December 2009 they achieved the Cultural Diversity Quality Standard Gold Award.

English Leaders and Fronter – The Literacy Leaders’ Project
The project was created to celebrate the success of high achieving English students in year 11 and to promote literacy across the school. There were two types of responsibilities given to the English leaders; the first was pairing them up with year 7 students who had been identified as having low reading ages, but were receiving no intervention other than what was happening in the classroom. Each week, the year 11 and year 7 students would meet in the library where, in their pairs, they would have a guided reading session with the aim of developing word level and whole text comprehension. The second responsibility was for an English Help Forum; any students from year 7 could pose an English based question on the forum and the English leaders were then responsible for answering it accurately.

Role of Fronter in supporting the project
It was on Fronter that the forum was created. All students had access in (at the very least) and out of school, so questions could be asked and answered at any time.

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Impact
The English Help Forum has been a surprising success. The English leaders reported that they found it extremely helpful when answering these questions; they said that, in order to ensure accuracy, they first had to understand the skills fully. This often involved reference to their notes or independent research and proved beneficial, because the skills that discussed are those that will be present in their exams. They also had to adapt their language to suit their audience. This, again, is a skill on which they are examined . The year 7 students produced better homework; there was greater care in what was being produced and accuracy in their responses, because they had independently sought out what they needed. Using the forum as a mode of communication encouraged reluctant learners to problem solve and develop their own learning, in turn boosting their confidence, and fostered a sense of pride and confidence, particularly with the year 11s, in the answers they were giving and the acknowledgement of their expertise.

“The English Help Forum has been so successful that, from next year, it will be rolled out for the entire school (and teachers)!” 
Clare Thompson
Director for English

A story of education before technology

Untitled-1I don’t feel I was at school too long ago. I finished in 1997, after sixth-form. But this week I was reminded that people born in 1997 are now legally adults. As I was leaving school, they were entering the world. Cue some weeping and wrinkle checking in the mirror.

Then, after wondering how I had changed, I began to ponder how education in my lifetime has changed; which is largely the pondering of the impact of technology.

While at school (in the UK) I did have access to a computer suite – a room full of BBC computers where we were able to attempt some word processing and basic programming. (That was mainly me; my teacher did not have much interest in anything past the curriculum requirements of spreadsheets and databases.) Roll on to sixth form, and I took that basic experience and studied for the rather grandly titled Computer Literacy and Information Technology certificate. I remember this being very regimented – what I would call ‘ICT by numbers’. We were handed worksheets to follow, and as long as you did exactly what was written on the instructions you would end up with a certificate to show… well… that you can follow instructions. I think we were being programmed more than we were programming!

Off to university in 1997, and surely this would be the step change. I dreamed of a swish library full of the latest computers. Clearly I had seen too many films. When I arrived, I found two computers, squirreled away in the lonely corner of an unloved room, above which paper timetables were stuck on the wall. Each computer could be booked in strict time slots of 30 minutes, and never more than one slot per person per day. With a college of more than 700 students, it didn’t take long to figure out that relying on these white little units would be pointless. So, for most of my way through university I handwrote my essays.

But what was this I heard – final dissertations had to be submitted ‘online’. At last, in the dawning days of the 21st century, pen and paper was out and machinery was in. So I swooped straight down to the local high street, and returned with a hire purchase agreement for a top of the line 64MB RAM PC costing £700 (though due to my terrible ability to pay my debts this later mounted to £1,698!) Finally I could access email and the World Wide Web. I was to become a digital citizen.

I hope it’s not from a naivety of relative affluence that I presume most new college goers won’t start their studies struggling, like I did, to buy a computer. Odds are, most will have had one for some time. In fact their phones are likely to be far more advanced and more capable than my first computer ever was. But what I can be absolutely certain of is that computers are no longer a nice to have. That there’s absolutely no chance of winging it through education armed with only a pen and paper.

That today’s students take their technology for granted is a very, very good thing indeed for education. Technology made teaching easier (I know, because I became one); the internet opened the world up to learning; and it will continue to do so for generations to come. And, importantly, technology still has the capability to excite. 3D printing, wearable technology, augmented realities – these are the BBC PCs and Pacmans of their day. Just like my ridiculously ancient machine bought for an extortionate amount of money could not have made be prouder (I cherished it so much that it was still firing on all cylinders when I finally sold it in 2005), technology continues to drive students and teachers into unchartered education.

So what about the generations that are coming after – the babies born when today’s babies graduate? They will have been immersed in technology from day one. Will ‘new’ still be exciting to them, or just expected? Will anything ever match the thrill I felt when the multicoloured pen was unveiled?

During London’s BETT show next week, I’m going to be chatting with students from schools across the UK, about what they see coming round the corner, what excites them, and what’s ‘old hat’. (Hopefully not talking to an old lady!) I’ll be sharing what they say via the #learneroutcomes hashtag on Twitter – and I hope you can join in our conversation there. And in between talking with them, you can find me with my feet up, having a nice cup of tea and reading the newspaper. There are some things technology can’t improve on!

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.