Encouraging rich cross-curricular digital skills

A little bit about us

At Seaview Primary School and Nursery Unit in North Belfast, we teach children from Nursery through to Year 7. We pride ourselves on offering unique and exciting learning experiences to inspire the children and encourage them to have aspirations.

All of our staff at Seaview Primary share a vision for the school to be a centre of excellence in the area, creating exceptional teaching and learning environments. We’re passionate about giving children the opportunities to engage in memorable learning experiences that will equip them with a broad range of skills to ensure they are prepared for a bright future.

Why we entered

After hearing about the Promethean Grant we knew we wanted to enter to be in with a chance of winning an ActivPanel for our P4 classroom. The children were very excited and enthusiastic about the competition.

When we entered the Promethean Grant we were fortunate enough to already have ActivPanels in a few of our classes. We were aware of how much more advanced the ActivPanel was than the interactive whiteboards that were in most of our classrooms.

As for many schools, our budgets are restricted, and it’s a challenge to provide a digitally focused 21st-century education. With such an emphasis on digital skills and learning in the curriculum, we are constantly looking for new and exciting ways to incorporate technology into teaching. We want our pupils to be as confident as possible with technology and engaged in their learning.

What winning means to us

Being selected as a Promethean Grant winner was a huge achievement for us, the children were so invested in the competition and it was amazing to see their faces light up, they were very proud. Our P4 class now have an ActivPanel of their own that they use daily. At Seaview Primary we are continuing to explore ways of making the delivery of lessons more exciting with the ActivPanel.

Our teachers have committed to attending a monthly technology session before the beginning of the school day. In the sessions we share our ideas and demonstrate some of the engaging ways we have been using edtech in our classrooms – the sessions have proved very popular with our teachers. By sharing best practice advice, we can ensure we’re constantly developing and providing the best education possible for the children.

When I started at the school it was refreshing to see how technology is being used to engage children across every area of the curriculum. Areas where teaching methods are typically quite limited can now be taught in far more interactive settings. For example, instead of learning from a book for maths and numeracy, children can access a multitude of game-based activities on the ActivPanel. Children are learning through play which is excellent for their engagement and many of them even go home and download the apps on their tablets.

The pupils love to use the classroom communication app Class Dojo on the ActivPanel. Being able to go up to the panel and select their little monster icon to give themselves rewards for good behaviour gets them more involved with the system and has made it more embedded in the classroom environment. When it comes to drawing reports from the app we can see that it is being used effectively and encouraging positive behaviour and attitudes.

We recently got involved with a mental health awards scheme with Leeds Beckett University that looks at improving the wellbeing of staff and pupils, as the DfE recognises a positive link between mental health and educational outcomes. Technology has been an important part of how we have implemented ideas about wellbeing into the curriculum. Mindfulness activities on the ActivPanel, such as breathing strategies and explanations of complex feelings have helped the children build up emotional intelligence.

The children have made significant progress in literacy using Big Writing Adventures. The software works perfectly on the ActivPanel at the front of the class. There are characters that read out tasks, challenges and ‘missions’ for the class to complete such as writing letters or directions. For tasks where the children need to spot errors in passages of text, the precision touch of the ActivPanel is brilliant in allowing children to highlight, edit and annotate text – we use this software all through the school.

Since winning our ActivPanel as part of the Promethean Grant, it has reaffirmed to us the impact up-to-date front of class technology can have on teaching and learning. The ActivPanel allows us to access so many more resources and make our lessons even more engaging. At Seaview Primary we have been able to make further investments in the ActivPanel since the competition, nearly every classroom now has one which has been great for sharing resources and ideas across the school, as well as giving the children continued confidence using the technology when they move classes.

The digital skills of our children are exceptional, but this has been no easy journey. Our commitment to using edtech across the curriculum has made teaching and learning exciting, but the passion our teachers have for digitally enriching the curriculum has developed a culture at our school which is allowing us to take real strides. We were delighted to be awarded the 2018 TES schools award for innovative use of technology to influence outcomes, which is testament to the teaching and learning environments we have created.

Robyn McKee, P1 Teacher, Seaview Primary School.