Communication

Titanic Project

This is OLHS’ successful submission for North Lanarkshire’s Excellence and Equity Awards 2017: Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning.

As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen, but the project involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experience in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and factual reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

Categories: Books, Communication, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Developing the Young Workforce, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Investigations, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, Maps, Mathematics, Numeracy, Outdoor education, Posters, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Sciences, Social Studies, Storytelling | Tags: | Leave a comment

Libraries in the Internet Age

https://www.commoncraft.com/free-video-libraries-internet-age

Useful video from Common Craft outlining the continuing value of Libraries in the Information or ‘Internet’ Age.

Common Craft have plenty of other videos explaining social media, internet safety, technology and using information.

I recommend the videos about wikipedia and zombies.

If you want to make your own videos using the Common Craft cut-outs, you can also join for a fee.

 

Categories: Advocacy, Communication, Creativity, Information Literacy, Resources, Social Media, Technology, Video clips, Websites | Tags: | Leave a comment

National Poetry Day

Don’t forget your National Poetry Day postcards!

From the National Poetry Library

Thursday 2 October is the 20th annual National Poetry Day in Scotland. Central to the celebrations are the popular National Poetry Day Postcards, celebrating poetry in English, Scots and Gaelic.

The theme for 2014 is ‘Remember’, and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the National Library of Scotland, providing you not only with eight poetry postcards about remembering and remembrance and our usual teaching notes and posters, but also access to a range of unique online and workshop teaching resource about World War I from the National Library of Scotland’s collections.

This includes extensive printed and archive material relation to the Great War, including letters and diaries of Scots involved in the conflict, official publications and a stunning collection of photographs. Some of this material will also be highlighted in the National Library of Scotland’s major free exhibition Behind the Lines: personal stories from the First World War at George IV Bridge in Edinburgh from June to November 2014.

Please complete and return the order form sheet by Friday 29 August.

£13 per individual school order, even if you get the maximum order per individual school of 12 packs = 960 cards. This charge is towards the cost of distribution only; the cost of commissioning and producing these resources are subsidised by our funders and partners.

PRIMARY PACK: 20 x 4 cards suitable for younger readers, P3-7 and/or

SECONDARY PACK: 10 x 4 cards for younger readers + 10 x 4 cards for more advanced readers

 

For further details, please click here for the National Poetry Library website

Click here for previous examples of National Poetry Day activities from across North Lanarkshire.

 

Categories: Communication, Literacy | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Scottish Book Trust’s ‘Home’ Project, the Library and English

Back in March, I e-mailed our newest English teacher to see if they would be interested in taking part in a library writing activity. They were extremely positive and suggested their S2 class take part in such a project. Great! An opportunity to work with our S2s.

Pupils were asked to write a letter discussing the places, people, pets, buildings, community or fun activities important to them, reminding them of ‘Home’. The class were also asked to write approximately 500 words. One pupil stated he wanted to keep writing, while others saw this as a challenge. However, our pupils have never been afraid of expressing themselves. Pupils choose to share various memories from their Gran’s house, to their own home or their favourite summer holiday. The class were also given the chance to elect a member of staff to write to.

Miss Murphy stated,
‘I was really pleased by the response of my S2 class, as they were all genuinely pleased to be selected for this trial project with the library. It was wonderful to see all the personalities in class come forward.
My class all worked well together, were very hard working and showed a united front when completing this activity. This project gave my pupils the confidence to discuss and write about a subject that is important to them.’

Orginally, I thought about putting the class pieces on the library wall. However, this idea was not as popular as I would have liked because of the subject matter. At first I was really disappointed but not accepting defeat, I began thinking about possible ways to promote the work this class had undertaken without embarrassing them. It would be a waste not to display at least some of our pupils’ fabulous achievements!
For help with this, I spoke to their teacher. She kindly asked the class who would be willing for their work to be displayed in the library and how they felt about being entered into the Scottish Book Trust’s national literacy competition for the rest of Scotland and the world to see.
The response was encouraging with four pupils coming forward to have their letters displayed in the library. I was really pleased that this would not be a wasted opportunity and would give our pupils the recognition for their work they deserved. Like previous personal writing activities I have co-ordinated, it was really lovely to read about what a special community we have here at Taylor.

One of our pupils stated,
‘I thoroughly enjoyed this project as it gave me a chance to share my memories with different people. I also enjoyed the fact that I had to write five hundred words. I believe that this project was a great success and I would love to do it again.”

Many thanks to Miss Murphy who took part in this project and to the S2 pupils who kindly permitted their work to be displayed and submitted to the SBT’s ‘Home project.

Categories: Communication, Competitions, Creativity, Daily life, Events, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Famous Last Words

Do you ever wish you had just kept quiet in a meeting? I do – frequently! I’m just one of those people who, when there is an awkward silence after volunteers have been asked for, have to stand up and say “I’ll do it if no-one else wants to…….” and does anyone else ever want to? No!

Last year I did that very thing when our School Fund Committee was looking for a new treasurer. I was led to believe that it didn’t involve very much apart from around Activities Day at the end of May. “Oh!” I said – “well, that can be quite a quiet time for me with the change of timetable, etc. I suppose I could do it if no-one else wants to!”

Who were they kidding – all through the year there has been a plethora of different requests for funding, invoices to pay and records to be kept and come Activities Day!!! Did I forget the BOOKies & Catalyst Book Group Farewell parties, helping out at the Awards Ceremony rehearsals, proofreading the S6 yearbook, supervising new S6 study classes and last but not least, the packing up to move into our newly re-furbished school? Quiet time, who was I kidding???

Saying that I have actually enjoyed the experience of monitoring the School Funds, it has brought me into contact with a number of staff I wouldn’t normally see and brought a lot of them into the library which they normally wouldn’t visit. It’s also enabled me to feel a part of the wider school community.

Roll on next year – I wonder how long it will be before someone will want to take over from me?

Categories: Communication, Stuff and things | Tags: | 1 Comment

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