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Digital Schools Strategy 2019-22

This plan was reviewed in September 25, 2019

Digital Learning Plan – 2019-22

St Colman’s N.S, Cappagh

  1. Introduction
    This document records the outcomes of our current digital learning plan, including targets and the actions we will implement to meet the targets.

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1.1 School Details: St. Colman’s National School is a vertical co-educational primary school in Co.Offaly. Currently there are 113 students on roll. There are 5 Class Teachers, 2 Special Education Teachers, secretary and one SNA.

The School’s Digital Learning Team consist of School Staff: Principal, Deputy Principal, Postholder whose role includes joint responsibility for technology in the school and the Parents’ Association

Currently we have a bank of 15tablets and a tablet caddy. With the purchase of 15 linx tablets and caddy from the Parents Association that supports the technical aspects of implementing a school ICT plan. Each teacher has their own desktop or laptop and all classrooms have an interactive whiteboard.

Our current SSE focus is ICT and developing our digital plan. Our school website includes linx to ICT websites that we use in school.

1.2 School Vision: As well as being an important educational resource, the ability to use IT effectively is a vital life skill in modern society. We aim to enable students and teachers, in so far as is practical, to be confident and effective users of IT. To this end we envisage that all participants would be active and learning. That the students have opportunities to be ‘hands on’ rather than observers is key to this. We note research which said

‘The range of online activities engaged in by 9-16 year olds in Ireland is substantially below European norms leaving many opportunities unexplored.
The ‘ladder of opportunities’ is a hypothesized sequence of activities through which children progress beginning with information seeking, to interactive communication and gaming, to more creative and participative uses and activities… Some 57% of young people don’t go beyond the second step of a ‘ladder of opportunities’.
Cluster analysis shows that ‘a low use, low risk’ pattern to be the most prominent followed by a “moderate-use, entertainment and communication oriented” use of the internet.’ EUKidsOnline (2014)’
 https://www.webwise.ie/news/irish-children-show-low-levels-of-digital-literacy/

As we observe the current popularity of online games like Fortnite, we have no reason to believe that has changed. We would like students to be creators of content rather than consumers. We aspire to this being a ‘whole school’ initiative and to involve parents as partners. Teachers agree they will have to upskill in order to support such an initiative.

1.3 Brief account of the use of digital technologies in the school to date:
a) All classrooms have a SMARTboard and a desktop computer with internet access.
b) We have laptop caddy and 15 linx tablets at the moment in total.
c) A number of SEN students use laptops or assistive technology to support their learning.
d) The school broadband is comprised of a combination of wired and wireless service.
e) We have a
– school website www.cappaghnationalschool.com
– and a Green Schools page on our website
f) Success Schools to record student data, attendance and assessment results.
g) “Text a Parent” software is used to contact parents.
h) Facebook Page at St.Colman’s NS Cappagh

A survey of teachers found that currently teachers use technology for things like;
1. Accessing ‘Success Schools’ to record student data, attendance and assessment results. Using the online noticeboard on ‘Success Schools’; reading the information on there
2. For the Smartboard & Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) publisher content in Irish, English & Maths
3. Using bought software e.g. IXL, Twinkl
4. IWB online educational games and activities 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 https://www.classdojo.com – new
8. Using the exercise site ‘Go Noodle’ https://www.gonoodle.com/
9. Teacher Planning: using word, licences updated on the 20th September 2019

10: Update of Wifi broadband and speed on the 20th of September 2019 (alcatel)
11. Subscribing to sites like the twinkl for classroom resources and planning
12. Watching RTE 2 Children’s News Today if there is a ‘big’ story in the news e.g. 1916 commemorations

Some students in turn have
1. Used educational software like ‘IXL and Khan Academy, Kahoot.’
2. Use the website linx on the school website to work independently on Maths or English during the time they are timetabled to have laptops e.g. https://www.saintbrigidsgreystones.ie/useful-linx/senior-webmix/
3. Improved their comprehension using topmarks and literacy shed
4. Taken part in the Khan Academy ‘Maths Eyes’ competition in Maths.. However students can use Khan Academy to learn maths. www.khanacademy.org
5. Learned how code; to programme; to use ‘Scratch’ and Code.org https://code.org/
6. Done word processing; typing up their own writing online and some blogging.
7. Learned how to present projects as Powerpoints (many classes from 3rd up
8. Taking care online. Observing online safety, etiquette and copyright.
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 in classes Junior Infants to First where we plan to introduce the Linx Tablets. Again teachers will need to upskill.

Some skills we would like the children (and staff) to learn how to use include
1. Develop and create powerpoint projects based on topical research in classes.

  1. Take photographs and upload to powerpoints, maths eyes projects and local history projects.
  2. The focus of this Digital Learning Plan

In preparing our application for the Digital School of Distinction Award we used the Self Evaluation tool on the Digital Schools website. We started this process in 2018 (although we had been working on improving varying aspects of our ICT since 2016). We took our time because we wanted our application to be authentic and to really reflect how technology was used in the school.

Over time the staff on observed that while there was ‘Leadership and Vision’ and ‘Resources and Infrastructure’ to a certain extent, although there was an immediate need to improve the broadband in the school. The area ‘Professional Development’ was impacting on improvement and needs integrating ‘ICT in the Curriculum’ and the School’s ICT Culture.

In 2015 we purchased new laptops for the staff (5 lenovo laptops NIS Rahan)

In the Summer Term 2016 we had our first meeting with members of the Parents’ Association with an interest in Digital Learning. They are currently playing a significant role in supporting teachers upskilling  the area of technology. The Parents’ Assoc helped to purchase 15 Linx Tablets with the BOM along with a caddy for the devices. The BOM also invested in a new wifi system throughout the school in 2017 and in 2018 this was further developed in the Afterschool on the grounds.

There was also an investment made towards visualizers for the classrooms throughout the school as a means to combat the use of paper and ink for printers and reduce the cost of these items in the school. There has been a significant reduce of the amount of paper and ink purchased in the school and we aim to recover the cost of the viualizers over a period of 5 years. 20017-22.

In 2018 the school has also updated the school website. This was a big undertaking from the previous website that was in existence here in the school. This website can be found at http://cappaghnationalschool.com . (still working on it, a few areas left to be filled)

In 2019 we sought to improve the Wifi and broadband strength in the school. This was a very thorough and drawn out process that took a lot of time and patience. This was finally concluded on the 20th of September 2019. (speed now reaching 35mb as opposed to 3 mb per/s)

-We continue to use the Self Evaluation tool on the Digital Schools website.
-We also evaluated our progress regularly at Staff Meetings, conducted a survey on survey monkey
-and conducted a teacher survey analysis reflecting on our strengths and where we needed to apply ourselves.

Though we found we were making some progress, as a staff we often came up against limitations on account of a percentage of the teachers having lack of confidence in themselves, and their perceived lack of skills in the area of technology. Additionally in staff meetings the ‘overcrowded curriculum’ and lack of time was cited in the analysis as a drawback to the use of IT in the classroom.

In the light of an analysis of the evidence gathered we decided that our focus at present should be staff development.

2.1 The dimensions and domains from the Digital Learning Framework being selected:

Dimension: Teaching

Learning Domain: Individual Teacher practice

2.2 The standards and statements from the Digital Learning Framework being selected:

Domain: Teachers’ Individual Practice

Standards:

-The teacher has the requisite subject knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and classroom management skills Teachers use a range of digital technologies to design learning and assessment activities for their pupils.

-Teachers design or adapt learning experiences that incorporate digital technologies and make learning activities relevant and meaningful to support pupils’ learning.

-When teachers use digital learning activities, they evaluate their effectiveness, and revise their teaching strategies accordingly.

2.3. These are a summary of our strengths with regards digital learning

-All parties (staff, students and parents) are engaged, motivated and interesting in digital learning
-WIFI is installed and is much more reliable than the broadband we had previously
-Currently classes from 2nd class up can be timetabled for a 1:2 device (link tablet) opportunity
– Some students in the school are relatively proficient in using digital technology
-Most students are very motivated to learn using technology
-A proportion of the teachers report feeling ‘confident and competent’ when teaching technology
-The Parents’ Association and school have a clear vision of what IT in the school should look like in terms of equipment, teaching, learning and the opportunities the children should have.
-Excellent technical support from Barry Ryan, Ray BELL and NIS Rahan
-Opportunities presented for learning with the visit of PDST staff
-Support from the Parents’ Assoc and the BOM who are funding for purchases needed.

2.4 This is what we are going to focus on to improve our digital learning practice further

-Staff will continue to engage in CPD in order to facilitate a greater use of digital technologies by pupils
-Staff meetings will include a section on Digital Learning
-We will extend peer support for staff members to increase competence and confidence in
embedding digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment.
-Staff will share technologies and websites that they have found useful online.
-Useful websites will continue to be shared on the Facebook Page websites on the school website

– Purchase new Smart Boards for the classrooms. One per year, depending on funds. One Smart board has been purchased this year for Mr. O’Meara’s and Mrs. Hopkin’s rooms.

– Implement and use the Linx tablets now that the broadband has improved

– Update and use the website to encourage blogging and student/parental usuage
More details of the Digital Plan for St. Colman’s:

  • The specific targets for improvement we have set
  • The actionswe will implement to achieve these
  • Who is responsiblefor implementing, monitoring and reviewing our improvement plan
  • How we will measure progressand check outcomes (criteria for success)