RE / Religious and Moral Education

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.

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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

This Land is Mine

Might be useful for debate, RE, Social Subjects.

Shared with permission.

NB Vimeo is not blocked in NLC schools.

Categories: Creativity, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Resources, Social Studies, Storytelling, Video clips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

El Dia de los Muertos 2013

You know when you reply to e-mails that start, “Would anyone be interested in …”. You never know what you’re going to get involved in, but it’s usually a lot of hard work, a fair bit of stress and a great big dollop of mixed relief and pride at the end!

That just about sums up El Dia de los Muertos – Our Lady’s style. This interdisciplinary project was the brainwave of Mr Pegard from the Modern Languages Department and run between Art, RE, Modern Languages and myself.

Day of the Dead is a cheerful festival remembering those who have died, and inviting them along to a massive party. In Mexico, people create ofrendas, or altars, covered in flowers and the deceased’s favourite things, dress up as Catrinas, or skeletons in costumes from the 1900s, and eat sugar skulls and pan de muertos or special bread, along with the usual party food. Celebrations are often held in cemeteries, and last for two days with bands playing and even parades.

So how do you transfer all of that into an afternoon for 2nd year pupils?

Well, RE took care of the altar, with pupils bringing photos and mementos of loved ones, and colouring crosses; Art made clay skulls and decorations; Modern Languages explained the background to the festival, and then there was me. What’s the role for a Librarian in all this?

Well, as usual, a bit of everything: ideas for activities (e.g. making hats for Catrina, after Rhona Skea pointed her out to me); identifying problems (if you hang out with Home Economics teachers, you’ll learn a lot about hygiene rules); identifying solutions (go and talk to the Home Economics Department, guys!); my personal favourites of taking photographs, researching, writing the quiz, and reporting everything afterwards; and of course being the go-to girl for the fiddly but necessary team lists. Well, I suppose when you insist on doing lots of investigations involving teams, it’s not surprising other people notice.

The whole event was a blast and the pupils loved it. They decorated cakes with fondant icing skulls, designed and made hats for Catrina, said prayers in Spanish and completed a Dia de los Muertos / Hallowe’en / All Saints Day quiz. The two hours flew past, ran like clockwork and the classes disappeared with their cakes and their photos, leaving us to tidy up, review what we did, think about what we should do differently, and put it all away for the next ten months.

Categories: Events, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Languages, Learning and Teaching, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, School Librarians | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Holocaust Memorial Day

S3 Religious Education pupils from Chryston High School recently took part in a lesson in the library to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. The idea behind the lesson was to help the pupils understand how the Jewish people were persecuted. An idea from fellow librarian, Marie McGough, inspired me to build a book ghetto in the library and have pupils banished to the book ghetto for reasons such as; has blue eyes, has a pet dog, likes JLS etc.

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We started of with the pupils posing for some class pictures while one selected pupil read out the poem ‘First They Came’ by Pastor Martin Niemöller. As each verse was read out pupils were given a label and moved into the book ghetto.

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By the time the last verse of the poem was read out there was only one pupil left. The rest were all squashed inside the book ghetto.

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We then had a discussion about how this made the pupils, they were all very sombre and reflective and really seemed to understand the importance of learning about the Holocaust.

Categories: Events, RE / Religious and Moral Education | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Las Fallas

2013_0226_1245The Modern Languages Department decided to study Las Fallas for their Added Value Unit in S3 and contacted me for LRC involvement following the success of the pinatas with S1. Las Fallas is a Valencian fire festival in honour of St Joseph.

And so, Cardinal Newman Does Las Fallas was born.

Naturally we had to seek permission to build a bonfire for the traditional destruction of the Ninot, or model. After the Headteacher had picked herself up off the floor and told us we were mad, she tentatively agreed.

We arranged a visit from the Community Fire Safety Officer, who explained the Health and Safety aspects of our idea and assisted with planning.

2013_0226_1244Game On!

In Valencia, they burn well known and political characters, so after considering various local dignitaries we agreed that a mythological character would be more appropriate. And so we’ve built a 9′ tall Devil from papier mache and chicken wire!

 

Pupils from the Technical Department created the body, and created a passeo or palanquin for participants to carry.

To add a Scottish flavour we’ve booked a pipe band to play along with our own musicians.

Meanwhile, the pupils are studying the fire festival of Las Fallas in their Spanish classes. Each pupil has been asked to write an essay in Spanish about the festival, and the most interesting contributors (six male, six female)will be invited to participate in the event itself.

Watch this space!

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Creativity, Events, Interdisciplinary Learning, Languages, Literacy, RE / Religious and Moral Education, Technologies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Holocaust Memorial Day 2013

HMD (7)Caldervale High School’s S1/S2 book group, The BOOKies, met recently to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.  This has become an annual event for the group to light a candle in remembrance of the millions of people who were killed in the Holocaust and other more recent genocides.

The RME PT and a teacher from the History Dept were invited to give the group an insight into the background to the Holocaust and this was followed by a short film promoting the theme for HMD 2013, “Lessons Learnt”.  Pupils were also able to study a display of materials and were introduced to “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas” by John Boyne, which the group will use as one of their discussion titles for the session.

One of the group’s S2 pupils lit a candle and a moment of silence was observed, during which the group were able to reflect on what they had heard.

Although this is always a very sombre occassion, the pupils are very receptive to the themes imparted both by the staff taking part and the HMD organisations films.  We try to send them away with the idea that everyone of us can make a small difference.

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