French Language Familiarisation

Project Goals

This was a Glasgow City Council Supported Masterclass Project. In answer to a call for proposals from ICT teachers, a proposal from Pat Scullion, depute head of Kings Park Secondary, and Marilyn Ross was accepted. This project was to support the transition from Primary 7 to Secondary 1, using Modern Languages as a bridging subject. Technical support to Croftfoot Primary school was an important part of this project, because although all secondary schools in Glasgow had technical support, no primary school had. Croftfoot was a large primary school, with two p7 classes.

The working relationship between Pat Scullion and Marilyn Ross made the cross-sectoral aspects of this work a great success. Pat, as depute head and ICT co-ordinator worked hard to find Margaret Logan (Principal Teacher of Modern Languages) sufficient time to develop new teaching materials, and was personally present at the links. A real sense of understanding was reached between the two teaching environments. Staffing in primary schools is a difficult issue, and the project was fully supported by Pat McMenamin, Head Teacher of Croftfoot Primary, who made six of Croftfoot teachers available, not all of whom could be assigned to the whole project for all of the links.

When Margaret Logan delivered her class materials, Croftfoot Primary had 73 primary sevens.

What was Achieved

A great meeting of minds at a number of meetings between teachers brought about cross-sectoral working practices and shared delivery in materials that were suited to helping pupils move from Primary 7 to Secondary 1. A closeness developed between the teachers, and a better understanding of each others’ working conditions was achieved. To suit the learning pressures at the schools, it was decided to have two primary-led links before the Christmas break, (this would allow a first contact, and a lesson format); and then to pause the project until during the summer exams at the secondary school, at which point there were to be a further three links, this time led by the secondary school.

Liz Bryce, the French language teacher at Croiftfoot developed two class formats: a hello link format, and a colloquial dialogue link. The first was essentially a guidance link, to prepare young people for the people they would meet at the new school, to let them see pupils who had been in their own school just one year previously, and to allow them to ask questions. Pupils met old school friends and new teachers and asked questions ranging from eating at the canteen, to bullying, lockers, buddy systems and subjects being studied. The second link, in November allowed p7 pupils to show off their language skills to Margaret Logan and the French assistant at Kings Park.

By the end of the summer term Margaret had developed and delivered 3 new class contact materials. These classes were delivered to around 40 pupils: all of one primary 7 class, and some good pupils from the other primary 7 class. In the space of a few weeks at the end of a busy school year, Margaret Logan worked extremely hard, perhaps the hardest of anyone, to make new materials and challenge this new medium.

S1, Ex-Croftfoot Pupils Link from Kings Park

The Feedback

The feedback to this project is given below, in full. This comprehensive project shows how much effort teachers put into such imaginative work, as well as the time and educational
constraints they face in the school year.

Margaret Logan, Principal Teacher, Modern Languages, Kings Park

On a scale of 1 to 7, how well do you feel that you have been introduced to the potential of educational videoconferencing in the work you did?
(1 Dreadfully Badly, 2=Very Badly, 3= Badly, 4=Adequately, 5= Well, 6=Very Well, 7= Excellently Well)

6

Any additional comments?

This was a good opportunity to ‘try out’ various teaching approaches to see what worked best by videoconference.
What new materials did you need to prepare for the work you did?
Lesson plans- Powerpoints and various Word worksheets for use with the smartboard.

Did you find yourself collaborating with colleagues in any of this work? If so, who did you work with in your local environment, and who in the remote environment?

DHT – Pat Scullion in school, also AV technicians + a series of meetings in Croftfoot.
HT and primary teachers of Croftfoot by e-mail.

What would you say were the main characteristics of preparing materials for educational videoconferencing work?

It depends on the aims of the lesson. For whole class teaching, I personally felt that the teaching had to be very dynamic and materials eye-catching to sustain the interest of the pupils when teaching remotely.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the pupils engage in the tasks and working enthusiastically together.

What did you find most challenging?

Preparing language material to deliver remotely, but in a live situation, was challenging and relied on feedback from the Primary teachers to judge if it was effective.

Not being able to relate directly to the pupils was difficult. The time delay and difficulty in identifying meant that it lost spontaneity.

Is there anything you would like to try again or do differently?

My original plan had been to experiment with raising the speaking ability and confidence of an upper ability group and it would be interesting to try this out.

What were your overall impressions of the experience
a) personally -

Challenging, sometimes frustrating, but I gained a sense of achievement from making it work.

b) professionally-

A worthwhile experience which I enhanced my teaching skills and, I think , had a positive effect on the pupils.
It was also very time-consuming , in terms of preparation/liaison/ delivery/ feedback : to bed it into the curriculum on an ongoing basis, perhaps extending it to all cluster primaries, would have considerable cost implications.

Mlogan

Pat Scullion, Depute Head, Kings Park Secondary

*What did you do using videoconferencing?

We linked up with one of our associated primary schools to enable our modern languages staff to enhance the teaching of French to P7 pupils. We linked up for a series of 3 lessons, took part in a ‘hello’ conference for our S1 pupils to answer P7 questions about ‘life’ at the secondary school and the P7 pupils prepared role plays in French that they acted out for the modern languages department.

Did you have to prepare anything or make up or rehearse anything?

The PT Modern Languages (Margaret Logan) designed and prepared lesson plans and PowerPoints

The P7 pupils made up and rehearsed their role plays.

What did you like best?

The enthusiasm of the pupils for a new way of learning.

Was there anything you didn’t like?

When the communication link failed (Friday afternoon?)!
The logistics of dealing with large numbers of pupils.

Would you like to use videoconferencing again?

Yes

Do you have any other comments about school videoconferencing?

There are many ways of using videoconferencing:
Modern studies interviews
Linking with pupils in France
Linking up with all of the associated primaries.
Advanced Higher pupils of any subject discussing their courses to overcome the disadvantages of very small sections.
Teacher expertise being shared eg for advanced higher classes, music instruction.

On a scale of 1 to 7, how well do you feel that you have been introduced to the potential of educational videoconferencing in the work you did?
(1 Dreadfully Badly, 2=Very Badly, 3= Badly, 4=Adequately, 5= Well, 6=Very Well, 7= Excellently Well)

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Any additional comments?

Having the opportunity to videoconference has raised our awareness to the potential that this form of communication offers ie to communicate with all of the establishments within our new learning Community, to open up the opportunities to other departments eg modern studies, pse.

What new materials did you need to prepare for the work you did?

Lesson plans and Powerpoints.

Did you find yourself collaborating with colleagues in any of this work? If so, who did you work with in your local environment, and who in the remote environment?

In King’s Park Secondary: Pt Modern Languages (Margaret Logan), teacher of Modern Languages (Clare McAdam), technician (John McKenzie), Head Technician (Debbie Brady).
In other establishments: HT Croftfoot Primary (Pat McMenamin), P7 Teacher and Masterclass member(Marilyn Ross), P7 and French teacher (Liz Bryce).

What would you say were the main characteristics of preparing materials for educational videoconferencing work?

Ensuring that the lesson was very well planned so that best use is made of the time. Both parties must agree on the content and structure of the lesson. PowerPoints must be clear with not too much detail.

What did you find most rewarding?

The reaction of the pupils. Being able to do things that would otherwise be logistically difficult.

What did you find most challenging?

Getting used to the delay in transmission. Organising large numbers of pupils to enable them all to take part (in the primary school).

Is there anything you would like to try again or do differently?

For an interactive lesson, I wouldn’t try to involve so many pupils at the same time. Shorter sessions more often could give more pupils the opportunity to take part.
During a normal class lesson small groups could go to a corner of the classroom where the videoconferencing equipment is set up and take part in a short interactive conversational style task with the modern language specialist.

What were your overall impressions of the experience
Personally.

A great deal of satisfaction from liaising with colleagues and making a potentially demanding task work.

Professionally.

The pupils reacted very positively to it and have come up with some good ideas as to how we can use videoconferencing in other areas eg interviews in modern studies.
We now require support in putting this kind of equipment in the other associated primaries so that we can allow all of our P7 pupils to enjoy this type of enhancement of their curriculum.

Pat Scullion
January 2005

Primary 7s link to Kings Park

Feedback from Primary School

Marilyn Ross, Teacher, Masterclass Participant

On a scale of 1 to 7, how well do you feel that you have been introduced to the potential of educational videoconferencing in the work you did?
(1 Dreadfully Badly, 2=Very Badly, 3= Badly, 4=Adequately, 5= Well, 6=Very Well, 7= Excellently Well)

6=Very Well

Any additional comments?

Aware of potential of educational videoconferencing through attendance at SETT seminars, ICT reading and research. Besides initial involvement in French project I’ve managed to have a few videoconferences with Sandaig Primary School in Glasgow.

What new materials did you need to prepare for the work you did?

Had to explore unfamiliar hardware/software, but like all ICT, needs to be used regularly. Use it or lose it!
Advice from Tom Kane was invaluable, couldn’t have done it without him. He supplied ‘idiot-proof’ Power Points and when unable to be physically present, he made himself available at the end of a mobile to offer advice.

Did you find yourself collaborating with colleagues in any of this work? If so, who did you work with in your local environment, and who in the remote environment?

Worked collaboratively with French primary specialist in school.
Worked collaboratively with Heads of French and ICT department at Kings Park Secondary.

What would you say were the main characteristics of preparing materials for educational videoconferencing work?

Each end is aware of the lesson plan. Basically what is being taught, by whom to whom, and can we make this as interactive and rewarding an experience as possible. Focus needs to be on the lesson, not the technology.

What did you find most rewarding?

Seeing the children’s faces! Children were thrilled to be taught by a secondary school teacher, behaviour and attitude were greatly enhanced. In particular, one very difficult pupil contributed in French for the first time ever during the videoconference, shocking both teachers present! But his involvement was a monumental breakthrough.

What did you find most challenging?

The technical side was pretty daunting at first. Not helped by very large number of children present. (>40) Just logistically trying to involve such numbers was a nightmare. Pretty maddening too to see the secondary side with technicians, several members of staff, all mucking in and I’m running myself ragged at the Primary end.

Is there anything you would like to try again or do differently?

Ideally a room where VC could take place, equipment set up and left there. Know security is an issue but if equipment is readily available it is more likely to be used. An uncluttered room where seating could be arranged to suit camera angles and facilitate changing from one group to another. Less noisy too if it were timetabled for VC.

What were your overall impressions of the experience
a) personally

Delighted to be part of this innovative scheme in Glasgow and, with help, meet the challenges of VC. It was hard work, but with practice and experience it will get easier.

b) professionally

Our pupils live in a multimedia environment and respond well to the introduction of new technology. The interactive lessons caught their attention and they wanted to repeat the experience. Primary/Secondary liaison was improved, and some fears allayed as they talked to last years Primary 7 about the transition to the ‘Big School.’
First time I’ve ever had any liaison with Secondary colleagues—beneficial experience for me too.
We all now accept how beneficial email has been in the classroom; children can contact and quite reasonably expect speedy replies from a variety of world-wide sources—Communication Technology. Is VC the next natural step in communication technology?

What’s next?

Being in Primary School is very insular experience. Can VC be used to reach out across social/economic/religious divides? Pen pals become video pals?
Taken part in a VC with a New York Zoo when the audience listened to a veterinarian discussing reptiles and then took part in an interactive quiz. Are virtual field trips next on the horizon?

Marilyn Ross
Croftfoot Primary School
Glasgow

Nicola Sturgeon Discusses "Divided City" With P7 Pupils

Next Steps

Following on from this work were numerous modern languages links links between Croftfoot and Kings Park. The transition element of the project was replicated again betwteen Bannerman High School and Sandaig Primary School.

This original project was presentend and favourably received at the European Schools Network Conference in Finland.

Following on from Marilyn's comment about reaching across social or religious divides, a project between Croftfoot and St Mirins was run. The project was part of Glasgow city's "Sense over Sectarianism" programme, and involved the two schools reading Theresa Breslin's novel "Divided City" and examining the issues raised. The project culminated in a link between the two schools and the then education secretary, Nicola Sturgeon. Again, a very successful link. The twinning of primary schools and the joint study of Theresa Breslin's book is an ongoing project in Glasgow.

All of the links mentioned in this work have been recorded and returned to Glasgow City for educational purposes.

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