Na Ceithre Maistrí

4 Responses to Na Ceithre Maistrí

  1. Gearóid Ó Duibhir says:

    September 2013

    As the new year gets going Scoil na gCeithre Máistrí hasn’t so much hit the ground running but is continuing the sprint that was begun last year in regard to ICT and the Living Schools Laboratory Project. In some respects it’s a bit of a poisoned chalice as the pressure to get everything booted up and back to the business of teaching has been intense over the past two weeks.

    As with most schools we packed up and locked away our IT stock for the summer. This has now been released unto the the masses and the gremlins have been at work keeping the ICT team busy logging problems and sorting all those annoying pc/laptop issues that crop up! However, the silver lining of this particular cloud is that as people have refocussed on their equipment it has given us a chance to refocus on our objectives for the forthcoming year which dovetail nicely with our objectives for the LSL project.

    We had our first staff meeting on Thursday of the first week and as ICT coordinator I took the opportunity to run through the usual topics such as internet safety and general care of the equipment. I also highlighted what we had achieved in the first year of the LSL project – equipment audit, learning/teaching audit, upgrade to Windows 8 roll-out, software and hardware pilot projects assigned and started – and laid out what was expected this year – recording of the work, completion and assessment of the projects, preparation of the visit in the new year and further additions along the way.

    As can be expected of a first meeting this was met with a mixture of groans and gasps but as the wheels began to turn so too came the buzz that we had regained last year with our membership of the project. And so to work!

    Best of luck to all the schools taking part this year. Beir bua!

  2. Kicking on from a good start to the year, our ICT committee is turning out to be a real bonus in the school and not just for the LSL project. We’ve a great mix of ability on board with a representative of each class level – Infants, 1/2 class, 3/4 class and 5/6 class. All are really positive and eager to input and learn.
    We meet every second Wednesday either in the morning over coffee or after school over coffee – a lot of coffee gets guzzled! The format of the meeting is always the same to avoid rambling raving from over-enthusiastic ICT types, but enough about myself! We do fifteen minutes of Aiseolas (feedback) on how things are going with what we have implemented (did an interesting change with our floating netbooks so that all classes get some every day and this is worthy of another post another day if you’ll allow!), Pleanáil to see what needs to be done and Traenáil to upskill the members on areas that we want to promote among the class levels.

    This “filter out” rather than “filter down” approach is really working for us as it takes the emphasis off one “expert” and equips many to become mentors and so encourages others to jump on board as the focus is more on how the technology can help the teaching rather than technology for its own sake.

    Would be really interested to see how others are implementing their CPD.

  3. That sounds great Gearóid. We are doing lunchtime CPD, also every couple of weeks so for us a lot of food gets guzzled- not ideal for those of us trying to be healthy, but it works. First 10 minutes feedback, planning what needs to be done and show and tell/ sharing new practices.
    Also we put out tips on eportal or by email using office 365.
    We encourage teachers to share apps/websites which they find useful and they share this info. Like you we want to encourage teachers to focus on technology to improve learning and practice, not just for the sake of it so when teacher do share something, it would be along the lines of:
    “I used this site to create a quiz for my Home Ec class, based on what we covered last week. It was easy to use and worked well because you could add pictures and attach blank labels which the students fill in.” Then the teacher will attach the link. Slightly different for us in that not all technologies will suit each subject,
    Another method of CPD we are moving towards is using online videos. If I am implementing a new procedure or introducing a new technology or device, I search for youtube or other ‘How To’ videos. I watch them to ensure they good quality, try to keep them under 5 minutes, and send the links to the teachers. That way they can watch while they are on the bus etc. using their smart phone.
    I am setting up a Colaiste Bride CPD group on Edmodo as well so teachers can share within the school.
    You could also make a video yourself and put it on the school server where teachers can access it in their own time. I am always trying to come up with innovative ways to improve CDD delivery, now that we have so little time available to us a group of teachers. And we have a high number of teachers so getting them all together is very difficult.
    We also use the free training given through the PDST, or through our local education Centre. This is the link to the one in Tallaght, and I am sure your own local one has similar courses:
    http://www.dwec.ie/ict/index.html
    One course which looked really good si Creating and Sharing Resources:
    -Using PowerPoint effectively in the classroom
    -Introduction to Google Docs & Google Drive
    -Creating and sharing resources with Google Drive
    -Introduction to Social Bookmarking using “Delicious” to store and share your favourite sites online
    -Using Skype in the classroom
    -Using Google Maps in the classroom
    This is a practical hands-on course. Participants will be provided with detailed handouts during the course
    They will also run the course for you on site if you have over 10 participants I think.

    The model we use at the moment is a mixture of all the above: planned and impromptu lunchtime training sessions, small peer groups for learning- if the DP can cover classes, a team of ICT mentors to be called upon whenever needed, and links/tutorials/How to videos on eportal or via email.
    When we get our sharepoint site up and running we will have an area for CPD where all of our CPD resources and upcoming training sessions will live.

    Sin é

  4. Ath-bhliain faoi mhaise!

    With the New Year upon us it’s a good time to reflect on what has been done in the first term and to look ahead to the forthcoming term, the highlight of which, of course, will be Diane’s visit in January. It’ll be nice to get a chance to show off some of the good work that is being done in the school both as a result of the LSL and as a general development of ICT in teaching and learning in the school. The two are complimenting each other as we progress through the year.

    I detailed in my last posting the work of the ICT Committee and how we run our meetings. This has highlighted ICT throughout the school and continues to feed the introduction of new methodologies in our practice. Through this highly visible action the past half term has seen a greater interest and introduction of software and hardware among the staff and classes.

    Of course, Science Week straight after the Halloween break boosted our efforts. We held “Coderdojos” for all the senior classes from 3rd to 6th introducing Scratch to eager audiences. Following the introductory lessons freely downloadable from scratch.ie, the pupils eagerly embraced Scratch and it is now a mainstay of ICT pupil-driven learning with students requesting Scratch-time both in class and when a trip to the computer room is mooted. Our distribution of our netbooks – the Fizzbooks – on a daily basis throughout the school has great enhanced access to ICT and we reckon we’re running a ratio of 4:1 which we’re very proud of.

    Mangahigh proved a great hit during Maths Week. We piloted it to great success with 6th class and many others, particularly brothers and sisters, have requested access to it during the term. We hope to give this another push after Christmas with a younger class, probably 3rd, to try to embed Mangahigh as pupil-driven learning tool to complement the curricular work being done in class. It’s proving a real winner with the high achievers as the power ahead touching on a wide range curricular areas.

    Following our last breakout session, as a Croke Park Hours session, which focussed on the resources available using the ActivInspire interactive whiteboard software, renewed interest in the package saw an increase in use in class. This, in addition to the extensive use of the visualiser, has seen a staff-side consensus that ICT is a key tool in the teaching resources armory.

    As an interesting and unexpected bonus to the breakout session was the enthusiasm expressed for the “Ebeam” hardware that was purchased on an experimental basis at the end of last term. The hardware was demonstrated at the end of the session to a group of Infant teachers and it’s potential for that age group was clearly visible. Since then both a Senior Infants Class and a Junior Infants have piloted the hardware to great success. It seems that this cheaper option (cheaper than a full interactive whiteboard) is the way forward when funds become available for future ICT investment.

    Like many other schools in Ireland, we took full advantage of Microsoft’s offer during the summer of cut price Surface tablets buying four of them with keyboards and projector adaptors. These arrived to great excitement at the end of September and have been integrated into our ICT stock. We deployed the Surfaces across administration and teaching staff with the principal, two learning support teachers and one classroom teacher using them to great effect. Reaction has been positive particularly in the field of learning support where teachers are moving throughout the school throughout the day covering a wide range of subject areas and class levels. Undoubtedly this development is worthy of a blog in its own right detailing the Surface’s pros and cons.

    Looking ahead to the New Year, most definitely more of the same is the order of the day! While Diane’s visit is a highlight it will be very much viewed as part of an on-going process rather than the culmination of our work. Diane will see work in progress and get a clear view of what we are doing rather than what we have done. Will one day be enough!!!?

    Our upgrading of our operating systems to Windows 8 and/or 8.1 is ongoing with most of the computers now at this level. CPD training is planned in the first few weeks of January now that all staff computers have Windows 8. Feedback on the OS is very positive with the Store proving to be a source of extremely useful – and very often free – apps for use in the class. That’s the advantage of working at the Primary Level where often there is no need for all the bells and whistles of some of the software necessary and Second and Third Level.

    As a quick aside, Windows 8 and the touch screen versatility has made access for Infants a doddle and the free website Teach Your Monster to Read is proving very popular both at school and at home.This tie between home and school ICT is something we hope to develop further in the coming term.

    And so onward and upward. I’ve attached a photo of some of our 6th Class recording some Christmas poems using Audacity. They had great fun (and learned some stuff too!) earlier in the month creating story videos using Photostory and the aforementioned Audacity. In groups of six or seven they wrote, edited, acted/recorded their stories. Then they took corresponding photographs which they imported into Photostory. They called upon their artistic and directing abilities then to match the photos to the recorded stories creating some interesting videos. No doubt they will be red carpeted on the 21st of January when our visitor arrives!

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