Interdisciplinary Learning

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

Maths Puzzle for Scottish Book Week

 

This year for Scottish Book 2015 Week the library at Taylor High celebrated the week by running a maths puzzle with some of our S1 pupils.  The puzzle was inspired by ‘The Young James Bond Series’, particularly ‘Shoot to Kill’ by Steve Cole and the idea was taken from ‘Brain-Busting Puzzles Series’ by Sarah Khan.

Pupils were put into groups of five and we discussed as a group why James Bond had inspired something Scottish. This got us all talking about the film franchise and why this series might have been chosen.  Only one pupil was able answer what the connection was.  Of course, it was the fact that his father was Scottish and therefore that was our Scottish connection.

An S6 pupil kindly volunteered to read a chapter from the book, giving some of our S1 a chance to explore a book that they might not ordinarily read. It was great to have one of their peers reading aloud and helped set the scene.

The S6 pupils stated “I enjoyed the activity and it was great to read to younger pupils and share a book that they may not have thought about reading before. However, you need to be brave, it can be quite daunting reading aloud to a class.”

Pupils were asked to pretend they were a Secret Agent trying to find a pattern of numbers and letters that would tell them what city in the world their mission would be in. Pupils were asked to find a pattern of six numbers that appeared three times.  For some pupils, looking for six numbers proved rather challenging and so, pupils were asked to find just two of the numbers.  It was amazing, as soon as, pupils had to look for only two numbers the quicker they found the code for six.

Once pupils found the pattern of numbers, they then had to find the letters that were attached to the numbers to discover the city. The letters were all jumbled but pupils were given a sheet that had a mix of possible cities across the world and soon discovered the answer was Berlin.

The next part of the task involved using their geographic skills, as pupils were that asked to name the country that the city was in and about their flags. (For me, the real challenging area of the activity was naming the flag colours!)

To round the activity off, each table was asked to name their group, which included ‘The Book Lovers’ and ‘The Big Ones’.

This really was a great cross-curricular activity, as it involved numeracy, reading, language and geography skills. It gave pupils an opportunity to explore literature and the world of maths further.   It also promotes the values of Curriculum for Excellence, particularly confident individuals and successful learners.

Well done to all the S1s who took part and my maths colleagues who took the time to be involved. It really was great fun and pupils work is now being displayed.

Categories: Curriculum for Excellence, Events, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, Mathematics, Numeracy, Reading, Stuff and things | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Taylor High School’s Adventure into the World of Knitting

Written by Cathy MacIntyre

I am job-share librarian at Taylor High School, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. We like to encourage our S1 and S2 students to come along to lunchtime clubs and we wanted something that could rival other clubs operating throughout the school. Various ideas were put forward, it would need to be something that would keep their attention and was fun.

One of my colleagues is a knitting expert and agreed to help me on my mission.

Before we invested in our knitting needles we had to make sure that our members were serious. At our first meeting 10 came along, 4 boys and 6 girls. Nobody knew how to knit, initially our aim was to knit small squares and to sew them into a blanket. We would raffle or auction it and donate the money to charity. Long term plan I hasten to add.

The club started in September 2015 and it caused quite a commotion once word spread throughout the school. Two more students wanted to join so more needles had to be bought. We decided to make 12 our maximum number.

Mrs Dickson (one of our classroom assistants), our knitting expert, came up with an idea to keep the group interested, before we began to make our blanket, let’s show the students how to knit covers for their mobile phones. She brought in some samples and the group thought that it was a great idea.

We started by showing the group how to cast on 30 stitches and start to knit plain garter stitch. Thursday lunchtime, 12.25-1.10pm and we had a thriving club with 12 enthusiastic members. By the time they had their lunch the actual time spent on knitting was 25 minutes.

Some of the students thought that their knitting would grow quickly but unfortunately many stitches were dropped and had to be found but then we decided just to leave the mistakes because as they improved they could look back and laugh.

We lost a few members along the way but as one left new members joined.

Our little club have now mastered the garter stitch in such a small period of time. Some of the group are now knitting at home, one of our boys was going to Paris Disneyland with his family and he was worried that his aunt would be cold so he knitted her a chunky scarf. It was incredible!

Any new members joining the club are made very welcome and are given encouragement and support by the founder members. Thus making knitting fun and enjoyable within this age-group.

It is now December and Taylor High school is busy preparing for the Christmas Show and for the Carol Service so a few of our members have got to go for rehearsals at lunchtime. Purl stitch has now been introduced and we have decided to extend the club to Friday lunchtime because the members have been so keen to master the art of knitting. Hopefully our little group will grow from strength to strength in the New Year.

 

 

 

Categories: Arts and Crafts, Clubs / Groups, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy | 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

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

Lives of the First World War

The Imperial War Museum has launched Lives of the First World War, a project aimed at  pulling together the life stories of millions of people involved in World War I.

Those wanting to be involved need to register, and can then add additional information from various sources:

  • Official records (which may involve a charge)
  • Images
  • External references
  • Personal knowledge

The site is particularly interested in personal details, family and civilian life, military service and stories.

Scotland’s War is an unrelated, but similar, initiative to be launched in the near future.

Categories: Interdisciplinary Learning, Websites | 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

Kingdom

For some ideas on how to put software into action to create something spectacular, have a look at Kingdom.

This is an outstanding piece of work by a teacher and a group of pupils at Porchester Junior School using a variety of online tools to create a whole world, its people, history and geography.

Categories: Creativity, Interdisciplinary Learning, Learning and Teaching, Resources, Storytelling, Websites | 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

Dalzell Estate

The NL Challenge Group use the LRC for their weekly lunchtime meetings run by our Partnership Officer, Mrs Deborah King. I’ve been involved with various initiatives and lend a hand where it’s possible so it was nice to be invited along to the NL Challenge Group’s first expedition – a walk around Dalzell Estate.

If you’re not familiar with it, Dalzell Estate is a beautiful piece of woodland that runs from Motherwell all the way down to the Clyde, and is full of fascinating stuff, like ancient oaks, burial grounds and holy wells.

The pupils were there to practise their map reading but their curiosity was indefatigable. Anything out of the ordinary caught their eye, like the Covenanters Oak,

Wow, how old is it?
Is that the oldest thing alive?
Is it still alive?
How do you know?
How long do trees usually live for?
Why does it have crutches?
How does that help?
How much longer will it live for
?
Are you allowed to climb it?

or the holes in the wall where the pointing needed redone,

What’s caused those holes?
Is it for defence?
Is it for allowing water to come through?
Why isn’t it fixed?

Is there something living in there?

or the beastie that they planted on my arm,

Miss, what’s this?
Is it dangerous?
Will it bite you?
Why isn’t it flying away?
Why did you do that to it?

But the star attraction was the old, overgrown graveyard. They would happily have pored over the stones for hours, looking first for the oldest dates, but quickly getting involved in the details of the lives documented, and the surviving remains.

They noticed that one family had lost three children within a few days of each other and started to discuss what had caused the deaths.

They saw a group of four letters at the bottom of a stone and tried to figure out what they meant.

They commented on the phrasing, the lettering and the shapes of the individual stones before wondering what they would see if the stone was lifted.

They were extremely respectful and upset that the cemetery was so dilapidated, which led them onto who takes care of such places and who they ‘belonged’ to. And when we moved around to the pet cemetery, they compared how much  animals meant to people and whether they deserved similar burial to humans.

So much philosophical enquiry and natural curiosity just from a two hour wander around an old estate, and that’s not including the discussions of how clean the water was, why there were grills in the well and why certain paths had been deemed dangerous.

Grabbing that inbuilt inquisitiveness and showing them the skills that help them find the answers is one of the reasons for school librarians’ existence ( even though fitting it within the framework of the timetable isn’t always that easy). Fortunately, Health and Well-being is a focus for next term and I think this would just be a perfect activity, stretching body and mind simultaneously. Taking along the means for collecting materials and ideas could spark off dozens of additional avenues of enquiry.

I’ve asked the pupils to write their own blogs for the school website. It’s going to be interesting to see what they took from their afternoons, and how it compared with mine.

Categories: Health and Well-Being, Interdisciplinary Learning, Literacy, Outdoor education | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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