Saint Brigid’s National School, is a primary school situated in the middle of Greystones, Co. Wicklow. Our mission is to provide the highest quality education for all our children in a happy, safe and stimulating Christian environment, focusing on their academic, social, personal, moral and spiritual development to help the achieve their advancement.

Working towards the Digital Schools of Distinction Award

We could have submitted for the Digital Award any time in the past three years or so, however we are ‘hastening slowly’.

When we are assessed, we aspire to be in a situation where
the use of ICT in our school is ‘authentic’
that every teacher is confident with IT
and that all students are be ‘hands on’ with technology.

1. Management has supported the teachers in this. A really important development that had to take place before we really could make progress was that the Broadband connection be improved. That happened in the Autumn Term of 2015 and has made a huge difference.

2. We also needed to ensure that students had access to technology, so there was a substantial investment made in laptops. We decided it would be better to have a uniformity in the technology that we used and so built up a sizeable supply of laptops. They are relatively durable in comparison to other devices. One parents kindly gave of her time to unbox all these laptops for us and got them up and running.

3. With the investment in laptops came the need to store these laptops and presses were built accordingly.

4. We are working towards children getting ‘laptop time’ timetabled regularly. To date it has been practical that this would occur from second class. A significant break through occurred in the Summer Term of 2017. A group of parents ran a ‘four class pilot program’ with 6th class, with three sessions on word and one on Powerpoint.
In addition there was a ‘two class pilot program’ with a third class; one on Powerpoint and one on Word.

6.The Board has also encouraged teachers to upskill by offering to pay for Summer Courses in IT. Teachers are growing in confidence and competency with IT year on year.

7. St.Brigid’s has an online presence. There is a the school website, a Green Schools blog and a local history blog. Five teachers have had class blogs over the years. Three still do. Again pressure of time makes this challenging. However each class does have work displayed on the school website.

The local history blog was shortlisted for an Eir Junior Spiders Award this year. In 2014 the Green Schools Blog was shortlisted and in 2013 class blog ‘If Only the Best Birds Sang’ won the best school blog and overall prize for primary schools at the same awards.

Currently teachers use technology for;
1. Accessing ‘Aladdin’ to call the roll. Using the online noticeboard on ‘Aladdin’; reading the information on there
2. the Smartboard & Interactive White Board (IWB) publisher content in Irish, English&Maths
3. Using bought software e.g. Jolly Phonics
4. IWB online educational games particularly in Maths
5. Listening to audio files in Religion, Irish etc.
6. Watching educational powerpoint and video content
7. Using the online behavioural chart from Classroom Dojo
8. Using the exercise site ‘Go Noodle’
9. Teacher Planning: word processing
10. Engaging with the ‘Wordsworth’ programme for reading using ‘the flipped classroom’ approach. You can read more about the ‘flipped classroom’ HERE .
11. Subscribing to sites like the teaching resource site Twinkl and the Teaching Art website deepspacesparkle.com
12. Some teachers have class blogs and student blogs. Last March, Mrs. Caffrey’s class participated in the global initiative ‘Student Blogging Challenge’ over ten weeks.
13. Watching RTE 2 Children’s News Today if there is a ‘big’ story in the news e.g. 1916 commemorations
14. Creating slideshows of the children’s art for the school website.
15. Some teachers have tried Mystery Skype with other classes in Ireland and abroad.
Some students in turn have been
1. Using educational software like ‘Wordshark.’
2. Using the Symbaloo webmixes on the school website to work independently on Maths or English during the time they are timetabled.
3. Developing their skills in English; e.g learning phonics using ‘Teach your monster to read’, improving comprehension using Readtheory.org, vocabulary development using Freerice.com
4. Taken part in the Khan Academy ‘Learn Storm’ competition in Maths. Unfortunately that is not running this year. However students can use Khan Academy to learn maths.
5. Learned how code; to programme; to use ‘Scratch’.
6. Done word processing; typing up their own writing online and blogging (Mrs.Caffrey’s 5th and some students in LS)
7. Learned how to present projects as powerpoints (many classes from 4th up)
Our work now in school is to continue to continue to develop our own skills as teachers and giving children these opportunities to engage with technology at a younger age.

Some skills we would like the children to learn include
1. take photos on digital camera, upload them and make Animoto or Photopeach slideshows.
2. use Class 2.0 Tools; digital tools and widgets; Prezi.com, Storybird.com, Timetoast.com, Padlet, Tagxedo.com
3. make podcasts (sound recordings) using Audioboo or Audacity
4. make stop motion animations, and lego robotics (this would require an additional investment, or sponsorship)
5. engage with ‘makey makey’; a form of engineering that turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. (However once again this would require an investment)
6. participate in three Irish based annual Twitter projects: Autumn, Spring and Digital Art.
7. Taking care online. Observing online safety, etiquette and copyright.

The Irish Times – Thursday 10th November 2016.  Innovation in the Classroom

What will learning be like in 2036?

‘Pupils on a pilot project at St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, are using the WordsWorth Learning Programme for the flipped classroom model.

Instead of the pupils listening in class and then doing the homework, they watch video tutorials outside class and do some interactive exercises to consolidate what they have been taught.  The next day, they go back to school and build on what they have learned; they also learn from each other.

‘Using this peer group learning approach means that the students become more involved’, says Orla Teehan, learning support teacher at St. Brigid’s.  ‘When they come to me, they feel more confident because they have already done the work at home.’

The school also uses the programme to maintain & improve literacy standards, WordsWorth & similar programmes are likely to become commonplace, although a debate is needed on the role of for-profit service providers in the education system and whether we dance to their tune or get them to work for what we need.

Still, leading educators have advocated for this model including Pip Ferguson of DCU’s teaching enhancement unit and the late Bianca Ní Ghrógáin, a leading innovator in education.  Trials with the children at St. Brigid’s learning support unit have shown that the flipped classroom model leads to marked improvements in reading accuracy, reading comprehension and spelling skills.

Welcome to the classroom of the future.  This is one of numerous innovations changing how students learn’.

We have also used Khan Academy in 2015 and 16 from 3rd Class to 6th in a Flipped Classroom approach. Approximately 200 children took part in the Mathletes and Learnstorm competitions.

From June Newsletter to Parents 2015

Learning Maths on Khan Academy

What is Khan Academy?

Khan Academy is a free website for learning. In 2004 Sal Khan began coaching his twelve year old cousin Nadia long distance in Maths. After a while he found it easiest to send her YouTube videos to explain things. Out of this beginning grew Khan Academy. Its motto is ‘”a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. In the years since then, Khan Academy has become bigger and more effective. To start with Khan Academy just taught Maths.  Now you can learn about history, science, art, economics, music, computer programming and more. Many experts in their field work to put content online that students can learn from. It is free to use and is supported by donations. The Gates Foundation and Google are two of its main supporters.

 

How has Khan Academy been used in St. Brigid’s?

Two hundred students in the school from 3rd class to 6th were signed up for the Khan Maths Challenge. Khan is particularly suitable for 4th – 6th class however there is plenty of early maths for 2nd class up too. Children like it because it makes learning fun; they are rewarded for doing Maths with points, badges and avatars. Persistence is rewarded as well as achievement.

Khan tracks progress for the student and recommends what they should do next. Teachers can check the dashboard and see the skills the students are acquiring and what students are finding hard. They can see who is working on Khan at home and the time they spend. Since January one hundred and seventy one students worked on Khan regularly. Seventy per cent of the work was done at home. The top three students competing in the Khan 6th week challenge spent nearly sixty hours working on Maths between them. Working thirty minutes a day on Khan really adds up. Even ten minutes a day would help.

The school piloted Khan from January, when a number of students participated in the national Mathletes Challenge. We came 1st in Wicklow, 7th in Leinster and 13th overall in Ireland. From 27th April we had a 6 week in-school challenge. This was even more successful. We hope to take part in the all Ireland Mathletes in January 2016.