A blueprint for outstanding learning

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Twynham School 

A Twynham School we are currently undertaking a review of the quality of learning within our school community. A key focus and surely our central purpose, is to ensure we increase the amount of outstanding learning which students are engaged in. I think this objective is far more important than a broader focus on outstanding lessons which can sometimes lose sharp focus on learning and concentrate too much on the quality of teaching. Although the two should be very heavily linked it is also the case that high quality teaching does not always ensure outstanding learning.

This debate within our school has involved a great deal of discussion around on one simple question: ‘what are the features of the learning process which enable outstanding learning’. In essence we are trying to articulate a blueprint for outstanding learning. As we continue along this discussion within our school it is heartening to see a recent report by The Sutton Trust which looks at the aspects of school life which most impact performance. This document potentially controversially concludes that reduced class sizes,use of technology and the use of teaching assistants have a relatively negligible impact on student performance. Given that all three of these factors are a significant cost to schools it should give us all some cause for reflection.

So what does the research from Durham University conclude has the greatest impact on performance? The key factors are summed up perfectly by the blog Pencilandpapertest:

It is encouraging to see researched evidence which resonates so well with what any good teacher would conclude about the blueprint for outstanding learning. The second point also aligns with a recent blog post I wrote which showed the work Dan Myer has been doing by developing thinking within Maths. All of this is not revolutionary but at the same time the process of educators openly articulating and refining a blueprint for outstanding learning is crucial. From the perspective of our own school community it is pleasing to see the conclusions we have drawn over the last three months are identical to the findings in the Sutton Trust Report.

My Site customization for the end user. SharePoint 2010 feature sneak peak.

June 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: SharePoint 2010, Twynham School 

One of the exciting SharePoint 2010 projects we are planning to show at our ‘Creating an effective and highly developed Learning Gateway’ webinar is a customization of My Site we have recently completed. Working with a large school district which serves 150,000 users we were asked to take a look at how My Site within SharePoint 2010 could be more user centric. The was a particularly exciting SharePoint development as the District accepted our idea of allowing staff and student to be able to select skins using a themer within My Site. To do this we built on some of the ideas of our own student council at Twynham School who described their vision of changing between colours and skins in the same way as you can on the BBC website.

This planning led to the commissioning of a series of designs and then we set about adding a theme selector to My Site within SharePoint 2010. The image below shows a sneak peak of the finished work with a simple pink skin and the theme selector open and then a more vibrant purple skin.


During our webinar on 6th July at 2pm EDT/7pm BST we will walk through the whole process of creating this fully customised My Site with in SharePoint 2010. You can sign up to the event at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/670107128

Using SharePoint 2010 to create a highly developed Learning Gateway for education. Free webinar

Details: Mike Herrity and Dave Coleman will be presenting this webinar live on Wednesday 6th July at 7pm BST/2pm EDT

Sign up: http://www.metavistech.com/webinars/Sharepoint-learning-gateway-for-education

Many of you will have heard bits of the story of Twynham School and our creation of a well-established learning platform using SharePoint. Through various case studies and presentations at conferences around the world over the last 5 years we have been very fortunate to be able to show our work creating compelling custom applications and engaging students and teachers to gain high user adoption. We have had quite a break from presenting and writing up our work for nearly a year and so we thought it might be useful to put a free webinar on to show you some of the new and exciting things we have done with our learning platform, SharePoint 2010.

What’s new with Twynham School SharePoint 2010-11

In this webinar we will take you through our initial work creating a highly developed Learning Gateway from 2007-10. In the second half of the session we will break out into new code the team has written which has not been shown to anyone yet. This includes:

  • ·         A whole new ‘My Site’ development with custom skins which allow the user to create a themed environment.
  • ·         A fully searchable SharePoint Knowledge Base for end users, admins and developers to support them working with SharePoint 2010.
  • ·         A CPD (Continuous Professional Development) system which removes the paper chase from work requests.
  • ·         SharePoint Rewards system which enables teachers to instantly award points to students who can see their scores in real time.

MetaVis have been very kind in supporting us with their webinar system so please do sign up below and we look forward to sharing our new work with you.

Details: Mike Herrity and Dave Coleman will be presenting this webinar live on Wednesday 6th July at 7pm BST/2pm EDT

Sign up: http://www.metavistech.com/webinars/Sharepoint-learning-gateway-for-education

New SharePoint 2010 features for education. SharePoint School Reward System part 5.

Over the last few days we have looked at how different members of the school community view AA (reward point) data which is relevant to their needs within SharePoint 2010. You can catch up on the first 4 parts of this series below:

  1. Part 1 Awarding individual reward points to students you teach.
  2. Part 2 Awarding individual reward points to students you do not teach.
  3. Part 3 The Head of Year View of year group AAs.
  4. Part 4 The Tutor View of tutor group AAs.

In this section we are going to look at how students view their AA totals and the breakdown by subjects. The two elements of the student view can be seen on the right side of the Student home page below.

Student have a personal thermometer for their AAs with the red filling up as students get more AAs- this can be seen in detail below.

In addition to this students can see a breakdown of AAs by subject in the table shown below.

I hope you found this series useful as a way of seeing how other schools are taking their reward systems online. One interesting decision we made within our build was to move away from the obsession with integrating everything into the MIS. Our view was that there will be an increasing move towards data being stored within the learning platform and not relying on a ever more bloated MIS.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this solution if you have been following the series. Drop me an email mike.herrity@twynhamschool.com or on twitter @mikeherrity

New SharePoint 2010 features for education. SharePoint School Reward System part 3

In the first two session looking at the SharePoint School Reward System built at Twynham School we covered:

  1. The interface which allows teachers give teaching and tutor groups an AA (reward point).
  2. The interface which allows all staff to give an individual an AA (reward point).

Following on from these developments we needed to build interfaces in SharePoint 2010 which enabled teachers and students to see what was happening with the reward points. It quickly became clear that we needed to focus on three interfaces for three audiences: the student total and breakdown by subject for the student; the student totals and tutor group total for tutors; the tutor totals and year group totals for Heads of Year. The interface below can be seen by all staff within our Learning Gateway. Click to enlarge

On the right side of the page you can see the Year Group totals which are used by Senior Leaders and Heads of Year within the school to monitor the progress of year groups. A Head of Year can then click on their year group to display a breakdown of the progress by tutor group.

Tomorrow I will cover the tutor group breakdown which allows tutors to see the total AA scores for individuals students in their tutor group.

New SharePoint 2010 features for education. SharePoint School Reward System part 2

In the first part of this series on Twynham School’s new online reward system I showed the functionality within SharePoint 2010 which enabled teachers to give reward points (or as we call them AAs) to students in their classes and tutor group. When we started trialing this solution back in June 2010 it quickly became clear that we had completely missed something. What if you took a cover lesson and wanted to give someone you do not teach an AA? This was also true of non-teachers and led us to devise a second area of the system. This can be seen below on the right side of the page.

Using the ‘Award an AA to a Single Student’ section staff members can find a student using the address book or instantly place their id into the box. They then click on the next button and the are faced with options on the type and number of AAs.

The drop downs allow staff to select up to 3 AAs and allocate them to an area which they are related to. By clicking ‘next’ the AAs are instantly added to the system. From here we needed to decide how to show the total AAs for students, tutor groups and year groups to different audiences. I will cover this part of the rewards system in the next session.

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