On the 4 March 2021, thousands of schools across the UK will be celebrating and promoting books and reading with their children. This year it will be celebrated remotely as schools will not be fully open to all children.
We have set up a community Flipgrid to encourage children and staff to share a favourite book that they would recommend to others. As Flipgrid is an easy and accessible way of empowering pupil voice, we invite children and staff from other schools across the country to share their recommendations and view others’ as well.
Which favourite children’s book would you recommend to others?
📚 Who is the author? 📚 Why is it such a good book? 📚 Which age would it be best for? 📚 How could persuade your friends to enjoy reading it?
Share your book and reasons in less than 2 minutes.
At Cornerstone CE Primary (@cornerstonecofe) we define Inspirational Teaching and Learning as:
During 2020 we developed this to define how it would link to a Digital version:
A part of our regular practice is for all staff to collect examples of Inspirational Teaching and Learning from their perspective across the school, so that together we can collate and share these to exemplify the best we provide for our learners, and to learn together how we can continue to develop professionally.
During the first half of Spring term 2021, we collected the following examples linked to the Digital version.
Collaborative, encourages curiosity and self-discovery and transforms lives:
Book uploaded to PowerPoint to share with class (YR) on a live call. All joined in with repeating phrases.
Whole class guided reading session delivered via Teams to YR enabling a deepened understanding of the weekly text.
Teaching within YR/1 bubble leads to both cohorts being exposed to lots of the same learning providing opportunities to extend YR and consolidate and close gaps in Y1. Also empowers Y1 to be the ‘experts’ and deepen understanding by having to explain to others beyond peer group.
Sharing children’s examples of work/videos on the One Drive for others to see what they have been doing at home has ensured the children are able to see each other’s achievements.
Whole class reader taking place daily on Teams – children loving! Further chance for book talk.
Using the Hampshire Information Book award as part of our guided reading and sharing what they like about the book. Using forms to collate opinions and ratings about the book.
Children inspired to ‘have a go’ with sharing their friendship thoughts via Flipgrid and supporting each other with their first attempts.
Children collaborating together from their homes to produce Sways as a final product of our Learning Quests.
Learners engage deeply as active partners:
Comments from Y6 children saying how much they are loving the learning: wanting to achieve and submit all. 29/30 children handing in assignments daily.
During Y5 Class calls, children are focused and motivated, responding both orally, using raise had button and through the chat function with excellent ideas.
Lower attaining children are motivated and completing assignments independently, asking teacher for help using chat when they need it
Teams has allowed us to play games such as word / number bingo in YR all keen to participate.
Use of Phonics Play to support the learning of both parents and children around phonemes and digraphs.
Children are very engaged during class calls and those that weren’t very confident to start with are now getting better at joining in. Star of the Week award has motivated children to try even harder.
Using Kahoot quizzes as part of daily class calls.
Ad hoc conversations on class team about books children are reading – building relationships and discussions.
Children quickly understanding a digital concept and subsequently teaching the adult.
Innovative teaching inspires learning always and all ways:
Use of Forms to support receive instant feedback as part of assignments.
Use of audio feedback on assignments to give instant, verbal feedback.
Use of ‘green’ and ‘pink’ through assignments which children are responding to with purple polish.
Daily personal feedback via tapestry in YR has motivated children to do their home learning. Photos and videos have then been compiled in PowerPoint to share with children as part of Social Call Wednesday providing the opportunity to celebrate and share ideas.
Y6 interventions being carried out via Teams – children actively taking part in the further daily call with CM which is supporting further progress.
Opportunities to stay on the call when children need more help or talking through extension work. Feedback given through email and work is modified for individuals when they need it on communication with parents.
Y4 spelling interventions carried out via teams – children are fully engaged and respond as if in the class.
Y4 – used virtual LSA, this still enabled the students to fully engage in
Developing their Digital skills powers up the learning, communication, teamwork, resilience, independence and positivity of learners:
Different ways for Y4-Y6 to attach further learning. Learners given a choice to submit as an attachment in a chat, as other documents on assignments or in their own notebook.
So much resilience displayed when using Teams. Confidence in children using mute/unmute/hand raise on class call has grown massively.
Parents feeling confident in asking for help to enable them to best support their children. Digital Leader on hand to support both in and out of calls. We are all learners here!
Resilience from both staff and children when coming across problems.
Children can independently sit on their own calls now whereas before, parents were sat with them most of the time. Children raise their hand and unmute themselves. They will begin to complete some lessons via Microsoft Forms.
Opportunities for children from across the school to share their thoughts on Courage and Friendship through: Flipgrid, Teams and email.
Group from Y6 planning the launch of “40 Acts” for the whole school with 2 members of staff on Teams. The group also designed and shared a Form to enable weekly class votes.
We have also seen examples of the learners developing and applying new skills, and being collaborative in many creative ways. Below are some examples:
Surveying the staff we are also pleased to have a range of positive comments / feedback about the ongoing development of our Inspirational Digital Teaching and Learning:
“Remote Learning has helped me to become so much more confident using OneNote, Teams and Forms for setting children’s assignments, marking it daily. I have learnt many tricks with inserting videos, links and in video calls.”
“Proud of my Forms that I’ve used , setting up various teams meetings for outside people, using teams for daily live lessons and using all the little extras, using OneNote to collaborate on notes.”
“I am proud that I have tried to implement any new learning almost straight away as I learn best by practising in a real life context. Each week in our home learning or calls I have tried to use a new facet or skill I have acquired.”
“I am proud that I have been able to apply my knowledge of Teams to deliver successful online lessons. I am proud that I have been able to incorporate Microsoft Forms into my planning and have also started to find ways to use Immersive Reader.”
“I was proud of creating a story using sway and creating a reading comprehension using forms. I’ve also created a recorded PowerPoint to guide them through their learning and English tasks through the week.”
We will be sharing a presentation, giving a live demo, and giving attendees ‘Time to Try’ (T2T) and ask questions / for advice, for each of the following four Microsoft Edu Tools.
We will also explore why these Tools are so valuable and share practical examples of how they have supported learners and teachers in our primary school.
Following the events we will also be sharing with attendees a ‘Take Away Wakelet’ with a range of useful links and resources to further support professional learning and the practical use of these Tools in primary classrooms and schools.
This blogpost tells the story of the Technology Trail @Cornerstonecofe in Hampshire utilised a range of Microsoft technology tools from the 1st to the 7th of January 2021.
A challenging and extraordinary week in schools, that would have been far more challenging and stressful without the range of technology we can utilise.
Following the decision of the government for all primary schools to fully open from the 4 January, except some in Tier 4 areas, there was a change of plan on Friday 1 January to include all London primaries and some other areas.
Then on Saturday 2 January, the teaching and leadership Unions write to the government voicing their concerns about staff and children safety, and questioning why not all primary schools in Tier 4 areas were to move to remote learning.
Over the weekend I used Teams to create plans for our full reopening on Monday 4 January. These plans were discussed, reviewed and finalised by SLT. I shared these plans and agreed them with staff. I had a Teams meeting with teachers, and then another Teams meeting with all staff. At this meeting I made it clear to all staff that I understood and would fully support whatever personal decision they made.
On Sunday 3 January I emailed parents a letter at 11.30 in the morning, explaining the uncertainty of our plans for the following day.
Having met with staff on Teams, I was then able to email parents a second letter at 5.30 in the afternoon confirming that we would be fully open as usual.
This letter, as with all our letters was then uploaded onto our school website, which is hosted by WordPress.
On Monday 4 January, all 7 of our classes were in school and the attendance was fairly high.
However 3 of our teachers were not in school, and taught their classes remotely from home using Teams, whilst the classes were supervised by other staff. Below is an example of guided reading from our Y6 class.
On Monday, we in preparation for what could be a changing situation, created a Form to send to our parents asking them to fill it in if they thought they would qualify as a ‘critical worker’ and would therefore require ‘Childcare Provision’ if there was a national announcement to close primary schools.
As well as being a quick and easy way to gain information from families, Forms responses can be opened in an editable Excel spreadsheet – which saved staff time.
On Monday 4 January at 8pm the Prime Minister announced that there would be another National Lockdown and that all primary schools would need to close to all pupils except ‘Vulnerable children’ and children of ‘Critical Workers’.
This led to the busiest 24 hours of the week, as plans finalised only 28 hours earlier had to be put to one side and new plans created.
Senior Leadership Team meetings, shared documents and OneNote pages to develop plans, Posts to share announcements and plans with staff and a staff meeting: were all enabled by Teams.
Again we used email to contact parents by 5pm on Tuesday 5 January to confirm our plans for in school ‘Childcare Provision’ and our ‘Remote Learning’ plan.
a daily live lesson on Teams
direct email contact between families and class teachers (YR-Y3)
direct Teams message contact between families and class teachers (Y4-6), who had been using Teams since September 2020
a Tapestry platform for families to access remote learning (YR)
a secure OneDrive folder for families to access remote learning (Y1-Y3)
the class Teams for families to access remote learning, and complete assignments on OneNote pages (Y4-Y6)
The following 3 days of the week proved to be very successful to maintaining wellbeing, relationships and the learning journey of our children.
After a great deal of professional learning in the first half of 2020, we were keen to develop our practical application for the benefit of the children’s learning and our organisation, communication and collaboration as a school. It has been fascinating and wonderful to see so many new ideas and practices becoming more embedded and transforming our practices as a school.
You can view a range of Case Studies of these applications here:
2020 has been an eventful, challenging, frustrating, worrying and quite frankly ‘bonkers’ year for everyone. And schools are no exception. Having managed to get to the summer holiday fairly intact, but not insane, thoughts turned to how we could plan and prepare for the school year of 2020-2021.
One thing I’ve learnt in 2020 is to take a school year very much half a term, and indeed a week at a time. Other school leaders I have spoken to this half-term, have often used the phrase of “we’ve managed to get through to another Friday.”
For me when I have been asked how the term is going, I often find myself responding with:
“as safely and successfully as I could have hoped for”
and this is a positive!
Our focus as an SLT that we shared with staff both before and at the start of this term is to manage the school full reopening by: children, staff and parents and re-establishing Values, Vision, rules, systems, routines, expectations and possibly / hopefully gaining the outcomes by July 2021 that we would have aimed forbased on July 2019 outcomes.
Our first priority on our Strategic Development Plan, this year also know as our Strategic Re-establishment Plan is Mental Health and Wellbeing. This is focused on the children, staff, families and governors.
I have been incredibly pleased, and immensely proud of the efforts, expertise, care, and positivity our staff team has shown during this first half-term. They have ensured that what could be (and in reality is) a stressful and worrying situation, has not seemed so for the children.
The children have been keen to come back, enjoyed spending time with their classmates and the staff, been highly engaged in their lessons and learning, shown maturity and good sense in following new rules and routines. I regularly hear laughter, animated conversations and see the fun and the joy the children are experiencing being back at school.
Great for their wellbeing – and also for ours as staff.
Staff have shared that they are pleased to be back in a more normal routine, and back working face to face with their classes. They feel like teachers again, and the relationships between staff which we relied on during the more isolated times have been strengthened and are probably valued more than ever before.
Last school year, myself and five other staff were part of a Wellbeing Project run by our local Behaviour Support Team. This was a valuable experience, with great training, great networking opportunities, and a key outcome was a fabulous Wellbeing Project resource. With a different theme to focus on each half-term and multiple ideas for activities, discussions and lessons for each year group – we are ensuring that every class has a weekly session of Wellbeing (which includes PSHE lessons and Circle Time sessions during some weeks). This has proved beneficial to everyone in our school community.
Staff have also spent time last term, during the summer and every day and week of this half-term: adapting their planning and carefully assessing their children. Where are they on that particular learning journey? What are the specific gaps and barriers they may have? How can we best revisit key learning from the previous year, whilst also endeavouring to support their progress through this year’s learning?
I am privileged on a daily basis to see thoughtful and high quality teaching and learning taking place and having a positive impact. From a personal perspective, this undoubtedly has a positive impact on my wellbeing. Although most of these short visits are in the form of ‘Doorway Hovers’ (as opposed to Drop-ins or Learning Walks) they still show how the children and staff alike are supporting, encouraging, challenging and empowering each other.
At Cornerstone CE Primary (@cornerstonecofe) we were pleased to hear over the summer holiday 2020 that we had been accepted onto the Microsoft Showcase Incubator path. A path which, with support from @MicrosoftEdu and @MSEducationUK and other external partners, we hope to continue our learning journey on.
We introduced Microsoft Teams and the Class Notebooks within it to our Year 4, 5 and 6 classes. The teachers and learners in these classes have started to explore ways in which they can use this online platform to enhance the teaching and learning in their classes.
We have used Class Teams for example to:
Develop collaborative learning through pairs creating River riddles for their class through Forms.
Used the OneNote Collaboration Space to have a live Q&A session about a forthcoming Adventurous Activities trip.
Shared Home Learning and ‘On Demand Learning’ videos which have motivated learners and enhanced learning.
We also provided an online webinar introduction to Teams and OneNote for the families of these learners. A video version of this webinar can be accessed here:
Training for other schools
During the Autumn term 2020 we have continued to provide training for colleagues in other schools on how they could utilise the powerful collaboration and communication Hub which is Microsoft Teams. We have shared how valuable the Hub can be for:
communicating with colleagues
audio and video meetings
sharing and reviewing documents
saving planning and resources
ongoing assessments and data tracking
Video versions of these training sessions can be viewed here:
Since May 2020 the class teachers have bene producing a weekly online Home Learning video. These have predominantly been for English, but staff have at times created videos for other purposes, e.g. Guided Reading or Art. Created initially as a PowerPoint, staff have narrated over their teaching explanations / modelling and then saved the file in a video format. This has allowed all children to hear their own teacher explaining the learning for the week, and seen a format that resembles very closely what they are used to experiencing on screen in the classroom. Due to being saved in a video format, children and their families can watch the videos on any device, whenever is suitable for them and as many times as they need. We plan to continue with a variation of this style of ‘On Demand Home Learning’ even when all the children have physically returned to school.
Each class teacher has also utilised Microsoft teams to engage with their pupils through weekly social Class Meets. Parents are sent the link, and can only join the Class Meet when admitted in by the teacher. It has provided a secure online space at a specific time of the week for staff to share stories and poems, sing songs and play games with their class, and given every child the opportunity to share something positive they have enjoyed doing over the last week.
School Leadership and Management.
As the school’s Senior leadership Team (SLT) we have needed to recruit a new teacher for September 2020. We were not able to do this in person, or with a class of children in the way we usually would. Therefore we used Office Lens to scan a child’s work which we sent to the shortlisted candidates in advance, and which they then shared feedback on during the interview. We used Microsoft Teams to securely and remotely interview the candidates. Other tasks included them sharing the start of a book with us, and asking questions / generating discussions as though we were members of their class, and the more traditional set of interview questions.
As an SLT, this challenging period of national school lockdown, and then different phases of reopening has had to managed carefully, in depth and therefore required a significant amount of collaboration. As well as using Microsoft Teams for SLT online meetings, we have transferred all SLT documentation into an SLT Team, which allows us to share and collaborate on a wide range of documents, e.g. Risk Assessments, staff documents, learning plans, letters to parents…
A key element of ensuring that each phase of reopening the school to new groups / classes of pupils has been safe and successful, is ensuring that all staff have confidence and a voice in reviewing and finalising plans. Rather than emailing a set of documents to all staff, which then needs to be re-emailed to everyone every time there is a change (and staff get confused over which is the latest version, or cannot access the documents): we have uploaded all documents onto Microsoft Teams, within the Staff Shared Team. All staff have been able to read and add suggestions / questions directly onto the document. As headteacher, I have also been able to reply to those suggestions / questions. This has resulted in all staff knowing the version they are reading is the latest, and then can also easily see the conversations that have taken place to further improve our whole school planning.
Digital Transformation Team
8 members of staff have joined Henry Penfold (our Digital Leader) and myself on the DTT to further explore and learn about possibilities of using technology to enhance teaching and learning and transform the leadership and organisation of the school. A key part of their role is to be pro-active champions with other staff through their encouragement and support. The DTT have also created and shared our Digital Vision, which is split into 3 sections:
Inspirational Teaching and Learning
The DTT have also created, shared and analysed the responses of a Staff survey using Microsoft Forms, about our progress on our digital transformational journey so far. Staff shared a wide range of positives of training and actions undertaken so far, and also many ideas for future developments. This has enabled the DTT to prioritise training requirements and plans for staff for next academic year, which has then in turn developed the actions on the whole school Strategic Development Plan.
Henry, myself and the DTT have used Microsoft’s “Showcase School Transformation Guide” to create the school’s Evidence Form / Action Plan(which can be viewed with this link). This document:
explains the Showcase School Rubric to staff,
supports us to plan actions for this term, next term and future terms
enables us to collate evidence of successful progress
Henry and myself have contributed to different Microsoft webinars. Henry has shared our journey of developing Microsoft Teams with colleagues form two other Local Authorities. I have been invited to be on the panel of two Guardian / Microsoft webinars: on Safeguarding issues with remote online learning, and managing effective online Home Learning from a parent’s perspective.
Within school we have created a range of Mini CPD videos to support staff’s professional development on a range of different Microsoft Tools. Some of these have been suitable to share with a wider audience and have been uploaded to a new School YouTube Channel.
Another aspect of our networking has been to have conversations with leaders and teachers from a range of other schools, both within Hampshire and further afield. We have shared how we have used Microsoft Teams and OneNote so far, both as a staff team and with our Y6 class. However we have also expanded on how we are planning to use otherMicrosoft Tools such as: Immersive Reader, Dictate, Sway and Forms. These conversations always result in some questions / ideas that we hadn’t fully considered previously, which helps us to reflect and further improve our knowledge, understanding and practice.
Microsoft Incubator Schoolapplication
The result of this professional development journey is that we have now applied to become a Microsoft Showcase Incubator School. This is the first key stage in our journey to hopefully by summer 2021 becoming a full Microsoft Showcase School. You can view our Showcase Incubator Application Sway with this link.
As with I’m sure every school, a lot of thinking is going in to how we can support our children, staff and families both during this time of national school closures, and also how we continue to provide support when schools re-open. When and in whatever form?
We have discussed how we will ensure the safest possible environment for children and staff, how we will balance the curriculum , how we will re-introduce routines and rules to help everyone begin to feel like a school again.
One key aspect we know we will need to have as a priority for probably a long period of time is positive mentalhealth. A group of staff have been involved in a School Wellbeing project with a number of other schools and the Local Authority Behaviour Support Team, so this has been a focus for us during this year already.
We want to make sure that all our children, and staff, are given the opportunities to share their thoughts, feelings, memories and hopes regarding this turbulent and unprecedented time in all our lives. We make no assumptions, for how could we possibly really know, what anyone else has been through, but will be making a firm commitment to ring fencing significant time daily for Circle Time discussions.
We want the children to be open and to share. But we also want to help, as we would always do as professionals, by trying to provide facts and what reassurance and support we can. So that they know they are being listened to, that others have had similar experiences and that gossip and opinions not based on fact can be unhelpful and worrying.
A few weeks ago I raised the question of Circle Time resources and ideas for conversation starters on Twitter. Many thanks to everyone who responded or showed an interest. There was definitely an interest in me sharing our school’s plans when prepared. So please feel free to use and adapt as best serves your community our
As part of our school’s journey towards Microsoft Showcase Schools status I initially undertook a number of online training courses at Microsoft Educator Centre to become an MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator).
The next level, is to apply to be an MIEE – which involves evidencing what you have done in your school to use technologies in innovative ways to support the learning and growth of colleagues and to have cultivate a strong 21st century teaching and learning environment. You can find out more about the process here: MIEE Nomination.
The final part of the process is to produce a Sway or Video to share your rationale and evidence for your application. My Sway can be viewed here: