Tag Archive | CPD

Chartered Teacher CPD

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the first entry of a ‘two part’ post about a great weekend of CPD activities and I’ve finally managed to get around to writing part two (how time flies!).

The second CPD opportunity came about after I read that the Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland (ACTS) were having a buffet lunch in Aberdeen. I took advantage of some bargain rail fares and an even better accommodation bargain and set off early on the Friday afternoon (JV had left in the morning to do some sightseeing). Although I’m a member of ACTS, I’m not on the committee, but everyone who attended the lunch was invited to stay on for the open meeting. The committee members are to be commended for the hard work they do to help the association thrive. Dorothy and David – and a whole host of others regularly give up their free time to attend these meetings so that the ACTS vision can be realised.

I’ve copied the Vision and Aims statement from the ACTS blog:

To facilitate and encourage communication and collaboration within a community of Chartered Teachers

· To support the community of Chartered Teachers in all its forms
· to encourage communication and collaboration between Chartered Teachers
· to encourage the provision of appropriate level CPD opportunities for Chartered Teachers
· to develop awareness of the professional identity of Chartered Teachers
· to make representation on issues affecting those in the Association of Chartered Teachers.

I’m proud of my Chartered Teacher status, and I explained my reason for embarking on the C T journey in a previous post. But what can I do, as a fully qualified Chartered Teacher  to realise these aims? Well – a few of us CTs in Falkirk got together and we’ve come up with some ideas:

This CPD oppportunity is being organised/run by a few of us who have achieved the status.

We’re all going to tell of our experiences since gaining full Chartered Teacher status – and all have very different stories to tell! It won’t be a passive experience for those attending, though, and we’ve planned to make the event as collaborative as possible in the short time available.

This CPD opportunity is for those teachers who are contemplating the journey.

Again, all the presenters have very individual stories to tell. I think that’s the message we want to give – it’s a very personal journey and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ element – so lots of discussion during that event as well 🙂

Beginning on Monday 27th September, Falkirk is holding a week long ‘Learning to Achieve’ festival.

Various events will be held all over the Falkirk area to celebrate learning and Teaching, and on the Thursday of that week there will be a TeachMeet in Carronshore primary School from 4-6pm. The group of Chartered teachers who organised the above CPD activities thought it would be a great idea to hold a Chartered TeachMeet in the same venue between 6.30 and 8pm. I should add that the requests to hold both the TeachMeets came from Falkirk staff who have never actually attended one, but had heard of the concept through the grapevine and thought it sounded like a great idea.

David Noble has agreed to chair the event, and Dorothy Coe has already signed up to give a 7 minute presentation (I’ll add my name soon – and will try my best to persuade some others here to do the same!)

  • Finally…….

Writing this blog post has helped me realise that I’m going to be busy when I return to class teaching in August! 🙂

A Secondment Whirlwind Tour – 2 Years in 2 Minutes

alumni 1

 I have less than 2 weeks left of my two year secondment as a Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has changed a few times since I first took up the post) and all the secondees who are leaving the team to return to class were asked to put together alumni presentations to share any changes/successes that we have influenced – or been part of – in our particular area of practice.

 On Friday afternoon, the wider Curriculum Support Team members were treated to some very imaginative, fun activities such as: fairy stories; poems; games.

My own presentation probably seemed bland in comparison :-).

 I chose to tell the story (as best I could) of a few of the changes I’ve made that I’m most proud of and I shared four of these …. there are more, but we only had 5 minutes 🙂 


How it Began


 I intended to begin my presentation by talking about what I’d been up to before I embarked on my secondment journey – but, as I missed out some of the important stuff, I’ll take this opportunity to add it here.  

Just prior to the secondment post being advertised, I’d completed a case study of my experience of having given learners their own blogs and wikis.  Very soon afterwards some work colleagues mentioned that an ICT Support Officer secondment opportunity was available and I decided (was persuaded?) to apply for the post in order to share what I’d learned.

I don’t know how many applied, but there were 8? candidates interviewed. I must have said something to convince them that I was the right person for the job because I here I am two years on writing this blog post about my secondment. My main remit was to introduce others to any online resources that could improve the learning and teaching experience.


Success Number 1


 The first success I talked about was the number of class blogs I’ve helped to create.

The screenshots on the powerpoint slide show just a small amount, and in some schools every class has their own blog.

 I’ve also had lots of feedback from teachers telling me about the positive impact of having a class blog has had on their classroom practice.

Finding the right host to recommend was a learning curve but finding http://primaryblogger.co.uk/ was a godsend. The support is second to none – check out  johnmclear  on twitter. He’s on a mission to improve learners’ experience via ICT.


 Success Number 2


 The second success I mentioned was having had the opportunity to spread the news about the host of freely available online tools. These tools can greatly benefit both online and offline classroom learning. Digital Storytelling, active learning, parental involvement and collaboractive activities are just some of the areas they can help enhance.

Sharing how using simple inexpensive tools such as mp3 players with built in microphones or digital cameras can make a difference to the quality of the learning experience was made easier because I was able to demonstrate by showing real life examples from my own class blog (capably looked after by others until my return).


Success Number 3


 The third success on my agenda, was the changes to Falkirk’s Virtual Teacher Centre (known as the VTC). Part of my original remit was to oversee the day-to-day management and maintenance of the website. As a class teacher, I wasn’t very familiar with the VTC. I knew that it had links to great resources, but as I could never remember the password, I opted to use Google searches or the LTS website instead.

I was aware from talking to other class teachers that the VTC was not the first port of call for them either when they were looking for online resources. I managed to persuade my new colleagues that it would be a better idea to have the VTC more accessible by taking away the need for a password.

As an added bonus, the Staff area of the VTC is now the default homepage for every primary school staff teacher in Falkirk – what a great vehicle for sharing news, websites, case studies, etc.


Success Number 4 


 My next choice for a ‘Success Story’ was the realisation half way through the secondment that teachers are not always the best recipients of CPD sessions. When I began hearing statements like:

This looks great, but I’m not sure I could manage to do this with my class”

I offered to work directly with the children – this was very warmly received..

Can you do that?”

.. was the typical response.

When she heard about this approach, my new line manager was convinced that this was the right path to take and gave me the ‘thumbs up’.

Working with a few students, and allowing them to become the ‘experts’ – who then spread their new knowledge to create other ‘experts’, who then spread their new knowledge ……. 

Some even shared their expertise with peers in another catchment area .


Where to Now?


 Last summer I stumbled upon the idea of giving learners their own eportfolios and I’ve been trying to sell the idea ever since. My musings led me to writing this:

When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : So … what is an ePortfolio?”


I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across. 

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements 

2. What should they look like?

  • There should be evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria 
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”

Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ’play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.”



 Back to  the Future

alumni final

I’m really looking forward to seeing where my ePortfolio idea leads to when I try it out for real in the classroom.
The insert in my powerpoint presentation was a clip of Memoona talking about her view of an ePortfolio and what it means to her.
I’ve included the origional Voki here. She seems to have grasped the idea 🙂
Have a listen!

A Brief Look at Building the Curriculum 5


The learning and Teaching website’s section on Building the Curriculum 5 : A Framework for Assessment states that:

“Building the Curriculum 5 – A Framework for Assessment is the next step in providing support for staff as they implement Curriculum for Excellence. It provides an outline of the approaches to assessment to support the purposes of learning 3 to 18.”

Last week, we worked in groups to try to familiarise ourselves with the document. Each group member looked at a different section and tried to summarise the main points. I looked at the section on How We Assess and I’m going to publish my summary here. Others  might condense the chapter differently, but I’m putting it on here in the hope that it will be more accessible in the future should I ever wish to revisit my own first thoughts about the  document.

How We Assess

  • A variety of approaches and range of evidence should be employed. These should dependent on the activity, but also on the learners’ preferences. Learners should be able to show their thinking and provide evidence
  • Assessment should be fit for purpose. it should be valid, reliable and proportionate … and it shouldn’t be so much of a burden that it takes away from the learning and teaching time
  • Assessment should: demonstrate learners’ understanding; confirm progress within school; provide information for other partners; supply information for use beyond school (exams. etc.?)
  • When designing discussions, tasks, activities, etc., it is important to obtain evidence from inside and outside school. Sources may be: observations; records (e.g. oral); information (e.g. dialogue and questioning; writte; product; accounts by others (peers, parents, staff, etc.)
  • Assessment needs to be carefully planned for interdisciplinary learning and records must be kept but it must be manageable and practicable within day to day teaching
  • A section on the SQA describes how National 4 and National 5 will replace Standard grade exams. Access, Higher and Advanced Higher qualifications will be revised. New Literacy and numeracy qualifications are being developed from S3 onwards – these will be awarded on the basis of a portfolio and will initially involve input from the SQA who will award grades.

When the group got together to share our respective summaries, one thing that stood out was the repetitive messages included in the document. There were 5 members in the group, and on quite a number of occassions voices could be heard saying, “Yes, that’s much the same messages I got from reading my section.” Despite the repetitiveness, I agreed with the sentiments.

We then looked at how we might put this in to practice and were given a scenario so that we could assess an aspect of  Literacy.  After some discussion we looked at emerging approaches to assessment . These come with a ‘warning’ message: 

“However, in their day-to-day practice, practitioners would not be expected to document the assessment process for all learners in this kind of detail. It will be up to local authorities and establishments to decide how evidence of learning is to be captured, evaluated and used to inform next steps in learning and teaching.”

 We also looked at specific examples.  

I began to wonder that, as it’s just not possible to provide that much detail about each student’s learning without compromising learning and teaching time, might we end up going back to paying lip-service to assessment (PLP’s, Self-assessment, Peer-assessment, etc.)?

What if they were allowed (encouraged/trusted/guided?) to assess their own learning via  ePortfolios?

Too many questions …. and I’ve gone off on one of those ‘blue sky thinking’ tangents again – time to publish 🙂

MIICE Conference Thoughts

Last year I wrote a blog post about my introduction to MIICE (Measurement of the Impact of ICT on Children’s Education). Before being seconded, I’d never heard of the MIICE partnership and I wondered if that was the same for other classroom teachers. At today’s conference in Dundee, however, there were eleven classroom teachers present – so maybe things are changing? I really enjoyed listening to the presenters and I scribbled down some notes as they spoke. I’m now summarising them in this blog post because I think they’ll give me ideas to use in my own classroom practice when I return to school in August – hopefully it will be just a case of searching on here to refresh my memory instead of wading through piles of crumpled paper 🙂 These are my interpretations of what the presenters said, though, so I apologise if  I’ve misconstrued the intended messages.

One of the main purposes of the conference was that the attendees would “hear a range of experiences of dealing with the issues associated with measuring the impact of using ICT as part of the learning and teaching processes“.

  • The first speaker was Donna Bullivant, a class teacher from Cowie Primary School. Donna spoke about how she had used a range of ICT strategies to improve literacy across learning. She began with her use of Endless Ocean and the opportunities that were created for improving writing. Parents were invited to afternoon workshops led by the children. Students from Stirling University visited the class to talk about their diving experiences. The children even had the opportunity to interview a marine biologist. Donna’s message was that it wasn’t just about using the game – but about the many varied activities that were able to be ‘tapped into’ as a result. Donna also spoke about her experience of using Animation with the class. The topic was the Highland Clearances and the children were divided in to ‘families’ who then used storyboarding to tell the stories. She had learned from a previous experience of using Animation that it was important not to get too involved in designing the scenery. Donna decided to focus on simple 2D props because she didn’t want to take away the emphasis from the main learning which was to improve literacy. The class concentrated on script writing – the setting, the characters, and the dialogue. After that was in place, they got to act out the scenes. An important part of the process was the opportunity to showcase the learning. They even had an Oscar ceremony, all planned by the children themselves.
  • Maggie Irving from Argyll and Bute Council opened with this video clip then spoke about the website she has created with loads of ideas for using ICT to support Curriculum for Excellence. She was a very entertaining speaker, but was brimming with common sense advice for taking learning in to the 21st century – even using a simple thing like a digital camera to help children record their understanding of basic concepts such as nouns and verbs. Another great idea was to allow the children to create a forward plan for a class topic. The construction of a large wallchart with movable blu-tack icons is certainly something I’m going to try when I return to class in August.
  • Ian Simpson, a teacher of computing at Inverurie Academy told us about his experience of using Little Big Planet with his S5/6 Intermediate 2 class. He talked about a 4 term project that culminated in a growth of confidence in the students who were involved – and this, in turn, may have led to their improved exam results. In term 3 of the project, the High School students held mock interviews to elect a ‘development team’ – the primary 1 children were the ‘clients’. We were shown an example of one of the levels that was created and 3 brave volunteers even played the game ‘live’ during the conference. It was great fun to watch 🙂 I’m going to take some time to have a closer look at what else is on Ian’s blog.

This blog post just gives a very small flavour of the conference – but at least I wrote some of it down here and I’m sure I’ll be referring to this post for practical ideas next session.

Just Another ‘Secondment Thoughts’ Post

At the beginning of this session, I submitted a number of CPD ‘twighlight’ courses that I planned to present to teachers here who were willing to give up two hours of their own time after a day at school. This is quite a responsibility, I think, because I didn’t want teachers to go away believing that:

” Well that was ok –  but I could probably have spent that time doing something more productive

I know that I’ve attended quite a few of those sort of CPD sessions in my time 🙂

I wanted to hear the, ” Thanks for that – I feel that I could use some of these ideas tomorrow in my class” type of comment. I was delighted, therefore, that this was exactly the reaction I got from the last two sessions I provided. The first session was on Digital Storytelling. I’ve included a slideshare version of the handouts I provided for the session. 

View more presentations from carronshore.

Producing something like this before a CPD session helps me to focus on what it is I’m trying to portray – the theory behind the practice sort of research. Being seconded, however, means that I usually have practical examples to show. The short ‘story’ below, for instance, was made by the primary 7 children after a class trip. They were faced with a number of potentially dangerous scenarios and this helped them to become more aware of  water safety, fire safety, first aid, safety with animals, food safety, etc.  When we returned to school they were asked to use the pictures taken during the day as prompts to remind them of what was learned. A digital story resulted …. well it wasn’t what we called it at the time – but it almost fits the definition??


Untitled from Education Services on Vimeo.

 This was just one of the examples I was able to show. There are lots more on our class blog ….perhaps another good reason for keeping a blog – a record of what has been covered / learned etc. in class

One of the things that surprised me during the CPD session, however, was the interest in my wordle pic I’d used on one of the powerpoint slides:


 We spent a fair amount of time exploring http://www.wordle.net/ and looking and the great possibilities for interesting ways of using it in class.

Because of the interest shown, I made sure that ‘wordle’ was included in the next CPD session on ‘motivating learners through the use of freely available online tools’. I decided to focus on just a few so that they wouldn’t be too overwhelmed.

 The handout for that session is included here.

View more presentations from carronshore.

I sensed that the teachers were interested in what I was saying and, as a result, I went off on a tangent (once more!) and introduced them to a number of other tools. At the time, I worried that I was going too fast too quickly and had possibly bombarded them with too much information – I even pointed them in the direction of  http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/ . I think this is a fantastic resource, but can find it overwhelming sometimes 🙂

At the end of the CPD session I was  pleasantly surprised again, though, by the feedback – especially the verbal comments as people were leaving. A few of them stopped to thank me, and the impression I got was that, although they felt a bit ‘snowed under’  they valued the many practical examples of how I’d used most of the tools mentioned in my own practice.