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.

Advertisements

Using Fronter at St Matthew Academy

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.

Teachers teaching and learners learning: Part 4

Individual Learning Plans…

…do what they say on the tin. A carefully thought out Individual Learning Plan (ILP) will help a teacher to look at the growth trajectory of an individual pupil; then plan and track, his or her learning and be able to say at any point in time how well (or otherwise) they are progressing towards their learning outcomes.

Used effectively, an ILP can be a fantastic motivational tool for pupils.

Practice makes perfect

Over the Christmas break, I caught sight of this interesting TED Talk from Carol Dweck and thought I’d include it in this series of blog posts about learner outcomes.  I believe Carol reminds us of a very important aspect of goal setting and progress tracking which is often lost in the busy, day-to-day considerations of keeping on top of planning for a tracking progress. In summary, her philosophy is that because young minds are growing, not static, their learning goals should reflect this. Therefore, if we give pupils static goals, then that defined target is what most of them will aim at but lacking the motivation to go further, will to easily give up. But, if we keep encouraging pupils to keep growing and to keep reaching for goals which may seem out of reach, then as long as they approach them with a ‘I can do this -but not quite yet..’ sort of attitude, instead of ‘I can’t do this because these goals are too hard and always will be’ mentality -then the goals are more likely to become within their grasp. Carol Dweck’s research shows that the best, most improved results, were achieved by pupils whose learning goals or outcomes were created as a pathway through the process of learning -not those who were only ever praised for static outcomes rather than effort.

The moral of this: the inclusion of effort based goals alongside outcome based goals allows a natural confidence and engagement with the act of learning to grow in support of the very progress being nurtured towards achievement of individual learning outcomes. As very wise lady (my Grandmother) once said, ‘practice makes perfect’.   🙂  

So, how does the ILP work?

To be absolutely honest – it’s not such an easy thing to describe how an ILP works without actually taking a walk through an example in action. So here’s one I made earlier…..

The teacher here, Sam Austin, is focusing on one pupil  – Sue Gerrard.  Sue’s progress is being tracked via a series of Computing ‘I can’ statements and motivational effort goals in her ILP.  Sam has clicked open the ILP, the Computing and effort goals are already in place and here is the screen where he selects Sue:

Fronter ILP goals

 When he clicks on Sue’s name, he can immediately see all the learning outcomes set for her in this subject and where he has already marked the status of her progress. He can add observations to this at any time until he (or another administrator -say a subject leader) chooses to ‘lock’ the ILP.

Individual Learning Plan

 From the same screen, Sue’s teacher can also see progress with effort based goals. A single click on a goal criterion will mark that goal in blue. When Sue logs on, she can see where the teacher is marking her for effort in class, for her homework, speaking & listening and teamwork goals:

Fronter ILP effort goals

The teacher decides to capture this record and email a copy to Sue’s parent. A single click produces a PDF which can be emailed directly to the parent:

Fronter ILP export button

This extract from the PDF is what the parent sees:

Fronter ILP PDF report

The ILP tool in Fronter has a range of other functionality, including viewing and batching actions on whole class records, but used in its most straightforward form as shown here it is a very quick, easy and reliable way to keep a track of any individual pupil’s progress towards achieving their learning outcomes.

 Tweet or comment on the blog to let me know how your school is using the ILP to track learner outcomes – I’d be really interested to hear from you. 🙂

Jane Harris
@virtualjane

Different ways to use Fronter at Southend High School for Girls

Untitled

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

Teachers Teaching and Learners Learning: Part 2

Fronter and Learning Outcomes – the Goal Tool

In the first post in this mini-series about Learning Outcomes, I started to look at the Fronter goal tool and how it could be a useful element in lesson planning, target setting and tracking pupil progress.

Now, I’d like to look at a few more details of the goal too. There’s so much a teacher and student can get from this tool – that this will be just a taster. I’d love to hear from any teachers or pupils who use the goal tool regularly as I’m certain there are as many ways to use this tool as there are teachers and pupils in fact.

First, let’s get the mechanics out of the way – follow these three steps to creating a Fronter room based goal:

Step 1
Go to the room where you want to set some learning outcomes expressed as goals. Click Room icon on left menu, then select Customise tool package.

How to use the Goal Tool in Fronter Image

Step 2
Click New tool.

How to use the Goal Tool in Fronter Image step 2

Step 3
Select the tool Goal and Save

How to use the Goal Tool in Fronter Image step 3

Setting a goal

Ok – that’s the ‘where-to-find-it’ bit quickly out of the way. Now for the nitty-gritty. Think of a goal you need to set – it could be a very personal goal for a particular pupil struggling with organisational capabilities, i.e. – ‘Remember to hand your homework in every week for a term’, or, a whole class subject based goal developed from your lesson plan, such as – ‘Describe the character of Pip using evidence from the novel Great Expectations’ – or any variation which could apply to any aspect of school life from behaviour management to work experience targets.

Here’s a goal in the process of being made by a primary school teacher for her pupils. The children are to work on designing a Bug Hotel and the teacher  wants them to think hard about the processes involved in planning a creative design topic and she will use the goal tool to capture progress with a sequence of planning activities she has already set up in their Fronter Eco Room.

Fronter goal tool

Tracking the goal

Later, after the teacher has saved the goal and the pupils are busy working through their Bug Hotel design plans, she selects the goal tool in the Eco Room, clicks on the pupil or pupils she wants to focus on (in this case just one pupil – Sue Gerrard) and then tracks this goal through, evaluating each stage of the goal thread as she goes.

The goal is shown in the same Eco Room area as all of the topic based activities and can be linked directly to specific assignments and forums. The teacher can run a PDF / print off of the whole class record, or of course just for selected groups or individuals at any point during the tracking of progress, so that achievement can be reviewed, discussed and acted upon. This is useful for alerting the teacher and pupil in instances where progress is falling behind expectations, or alternatively, where a pupil maybe getting ahead and extended work and associated ‘stretched’ goals are needed. This facility is also very useful for sharing progress towards learning outcomes with parents, either by email as an attachment or as a discussion document at Parents’ Evening.

Fronter goal tool

In the view of the same goal below, the pupil, Sue Gerrard, has also logged on to check whether her teacher has evaluated her learning goal for this topic. Sue has clicked on the ‘I can’ statement  which she also believes she has achieved. The goal shows in yellow now to show this is where the pupil rates her own progress towards her learning outcomes, but has a blue surround to show that the teacher has also marked her at this same point.

Bug Hotel goal tool 5

Sometimes of course,  this being the real world, there is mismatch between the pupil and teacher’s views regarding progress made. In Fronter, this shows up as a very visual signal on the goal tool, i.e. – the yellow pupil evaluation is far adrift in the ‘I can’ goal sequence from the blue colour block of the teacher’s evaluation – and immediately alerts the teacher to the fact that a discussion might be useful.

Fronter goal tool

More info

To find more info about how the goal tool can work in Fronter, follow these links:

 http://www.fronter.co.uk/teachers/set-goals-for-learning-objectives ;  or,  http://help.fronter.com/en/fronter/index.php/Goals

For London schools who would like a trainer/consultant to visit school (free of charge) to talk through the using the goal tool in school, please contact Fronter at training.pearsonfronter@pearson.com.

For schools outside of London who would like a free webinar on the topic of setting up and using goals for tracking learning, please contact training.pearsonfronter@pearson.com.

Coming up next time

Fronter goals are just one of many tools for busy teachers to track pupils’ progress towards their personal learning outcomes.  In the next blog post in this mini-series about setting, tracking and measuring learning outcomes, I’ll be sharing some thoughts and observations about schools which use a range of other Fronter tools in their everyday practice to support teachers teaching and learners learning.

Don’t forget – I’ll be pleased to hear your thoughts about Fronter and learning outcomes, so do get in touch via the blog comment box or on Twitter.

Jane Harris
@virtualjane