Urbleshanny National School, Scotstown, Co. Monaghan
Urbleshanny National School is a mixed school on the outskirts of Scotstown village in County Monaghan.
The school was rebuilt in 1998, extended in 2013 and has 300 children in twelve permanent classrooms.
“Eleven classrooms have a fixed whiteboard and laptop and one classroom has a new interactive panel” explains Elaine Lavelle, the deputy principal with responsibility for ICT. “We intend to replace all projectors with interactive panels in the next few years as our projectors are all slowly coming to the end of their shelf lives.”
“We also have a trolley with 32 laptops which run wirelessly and a suite of ipads.”
“The use of technology plays a significant role in both teaching and learning in our school and allows teachers to deliver lessons in a very visual and interactive way whilst also empowering pupils to self-direct their own learning,” she says.
All teachers use Smart Notebook. The windows 10 laptops all have Smart 18 installed on them. The teachers of the middle and upper classes use the SMART Response software to monitor and record pupil progress. “The school has two sets of Smart Response handsets which are compatible with Smart Notebook 11”. Using these hand-held voting devices, pupils can respond to questions, devised by teachers, by pressing a button, giving teachers instant feedback on how each student is doing. With Response 2 included in Smart Notebook 18 licences, the handsets are no longer required so instead pupils respond to teacher assessments on ipads or laptops. The response software allows teachers to compose questions with a variety of response types: true/false, yes/no, multiple-choice, multiple answers or pupils can use the keyboard to input written responses. The pupils’ responses are then exported to excel and teachers have a very clear indication of how pupils are progressing. I know many teachers who are currently using Kahoot. Response 2 is very similar to Kahoot in that the teacher’s assessment generates a code which pupils then key in to access the assessment but Response software allows for more varied answer types than kahoot.
It takes the pain out of assessing, is more fun and is also much more accessible to pupils with special educational needs,” says Elaine.
“SMART Response provides teachers with a superior system of record keeping than paper records, and all my records are now available at the touch of a button.”
Another benefit of SMART Response is its confidentiality: “It helps to show an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and it keeps the results private between the pupil and their teacher.”
Interactive learning technology is part of everyday life at Urbleshanny. We are constantly updating and upskilling in the use of digital technologies to tailor and maximise teaching and learning. We are limited in what we can do due to an ageing network, ageing hardware and the poor internet speed available to us.
“We do, however, make time available for the exchange of expertise among staff to ensure continued confidence and expertise in the use of digital technologies,” says Elaine.
With heavy workloads teachers often struggle to find this time to exchange ideas and resources, I believe it is this sharing of knowledge that drives the use of interactive technology – and in turn helps deliver the improved educational experience and results that we all aspire to.
The utilisation of Smart Learning Suite software in our digital learning plan will be an intrinsic part of our school’s digital journey.