Social Studies

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

Scran and the library

I have always been aware of SCRAN but I am, I must confess at times an infrequent user of this resource. I am sure there are many within the library world who are frequent users but alas not myself. However, all this has changed in the last few weeks and I am glad it has!This resource is a wonderful treasure trove of images suitable for the needs of any school library and department within a school. The difference this can make is massive and here are some of the reasons why;

It’s free

You don’t have to worry about copywrite (It’s important you always reference your source and it’s free because our authortiy kindly pays for it. A big help to any school library!)

It can jazz up any workbook/presentation you have

It will save you time

I recently designed and wrote a ‘General Election Research Quiz’ for S3 Modern Studies pupils and a S1 PSHE/English reflective writings piece called ‘Our journey at Taylor High’ inspired by the Scottish Book Trust’s writing campaign for Scottish Book Week 2015. On both occasions, I used SCRAN to add more character to the library learning booklets.

Orginally, I was stumped about how to make our learning booklets more engaging and interesting. I was at a loss and asked advice of a fellow North Lanarkshire librarian, who asked ‘Have you tried SCRAN’? Of course, why didn’t I think of this earlier?

To give my quiz an added dimension, I used an image of a lady either exiting or entering a polling station in the rain. The image fitted perfectly with the subject of the quiz. I also hope it inspired pupils to create some of the names they choose for their teams, particularly, ‘The Polling Stations’ or ‘Polling Cards.’

For the reflective writing piece, I decided to choose an image based around the keyword of ‘Journeys’. That is when the ideal image appeared, a road in the middle of nowhere that stretched into the distance. Again, I had found an image which symbolised this project and what I wanted our pupils to think about.

I hope that many of my future projects in the library and my learning booklets will further benefit from this free online resource. Time to get my thinking cap on! Many thanks to the Modern Studies, English and PSHE Department.

Categories: Daily life, Social Studies, Technology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Stormscapes

Excellent videos of storm clouds gathering in Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado. Fantastic for weather investigations.

Both available on Vimeo, Copyright Nicolaus Wegner/lightALIVE Photography. Reposted with permission.

Categories: Social Studies, Video clips | Tags: , , , | 1 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

Treasures @ Taylor

Recently at Taylor High School, New Stevenston, myself, the Social Subjects Department and S1 pupils were involved in a creative writing workshop that focused the theme of ‘Treasure’.  This was part of the Library’s programme of activities to celebrate Scottish Book Week 2013.

S1 pupils were asked to write and design a postcard from their ‘Most treasured place in Scotland.’   This was inspired by the Scottish Book Trust’s free book called ‘Treasure’.  A similar event was run by both departments last year.  However, this year there was a new twist to the workshop with pupils choosing a member of staff to write their postcard to.

This event was extremely successful with many pupils taking their postcards home to complete. Pupils’ feedback has been very encouraging.  It was also very inspiring to see pupils’ positive view of the world around them.

As a result, I wrote an article to promote the work of staff and pupils, which was posted on the Scottish Book Trust website.

It was also posted on a blog called ‘Storify’.

Well done to all the pupils and staff involved.

Categories: Learning and Teaching, Librarians, Literacy, Social Studies | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

SLG Blog Update

I have added an example of good practice into the Information Literacy section of the blog. It is a task that I run with S1 Geography and always seems to get good results and feedback so thought I would share it with you all.

http://slgscotland.wordpress.com/

Categories: Information Literacy, Learning and Teaching, Social Studies | 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.

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

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