Today we travelled to Athlone Institute of Technology and after setting up our stands and devices the showcasing of all our great digital work to date began. Eleven other cluster project groups were also showcasing, so it was a very informative and enjoyable morning. Personnel from the Department of Education, PDST and the inspectorate were also present and spoke with our pupils who demonstrated their technology skills along with oral explanations of what we had completed on our project so far and on what we hope to achieve next. The enthusiasm of the pupils in the room was infectious and it filled everyone with super ideas of different digital technologies we should explore going forward. Following on from our showcasing, the pupils were given a robotics workshop which they thoroughly enjoyed. I would like to thank our school representatives Fiona, Niamh and Dayna who were fantastic today.
As part of our Digital Schools Excellence initiative we are continuously delivering, teaching and producing digital projects with our pupils. As part of Year 1 of our Digital School Excellence project with our cluster, our focus has been to enhance teaching and learning of local history in our community. Our first iteration examined the history of Claremorris town and our second iteration has looked at the history of Gortskehy 100 years ago with particular emphasis on Gortskehy NS. All updates pertaining to our digital cluster can be found on our website digitalgmp.scoilnet.ie
In this iteration we asked the children using an application called Padlet to explore ‘What they know about Gortskehy NS long ago?’, ‘What they would like to learn about Gortskehy NS long ago’ and ‘ What they have learned?’. We delivered a Google slide presentation to the pupils (attached below) and we explored www.dúchas.ie, which contains a digitised national folklore manuscript collection. In the collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren during 1937-1938, Gortskehy NS is featured. Thomas Cleary was the school principal and it is a fabulous insight into the stories and riddles of the time, written both in English and Irish. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed this activity.
Then using their Chromebooks, we asked pupils to compile questions that they would like to ask a pupil who attended the very first school here in Gortskehy (1887 – 1964). These questions were then taken by Lily Hession so she could interview her Grandaunt Evelyn Heaney who is 92 years old and went to school in 1935. Mobile technology and a voice recording application were used during the interview. The video of which was shown to all the pupils and is attached below. To gather information from a past pupil from the second school built in Gortskehy (1964 – 2017), the children then posed their questions to Pat Hession who attended the school in 1976. In parallel to this, each pupil compiled their own individual list of questions to ask their parents/grandparents about their experience of school in the past.
Lastly, the children each created their own slideshows of ‘School in Gortskehy 100 years ago and present day’ comparing the similarities and differences. They used an application called Adobe Spark to create these slideshows and then presented these to their classes. As teachers we are extremely proud of what the pupils created and produced. This iteration proved insightful and interesting from both a historical aspect and also a digital technologies aspect. I would like to thank in particular Ms. Donnellan and her Senior classes for their participation.
Samples of Adobe Spark Presentations
Each school must now create a Digital Learning Plan (DLP). Staff from Gortskehy NS have attended the PDST Seminar on ‘Using the Digital Learning Framework to Embed Digital Technologies in Teaching, Learning and Assessment’. I have attached our DLP for your viewing and this document will be reviewed annually to include updates and to reflect all progress made. Feedback on implementation will occur at planning meetings and through pupil work. We are continuously working with our pupils and our digital cluster partners St. Pats BNS, Castlebar and Meelickmore NS, Claremorris to fulfill our Digital Schools Excellence initiatives throughout the year. All updates pertaining to our digital cluster can be found on our website
On Thursday the 8th of November as part of our Digital Schools Cluster Project the senior room visited Claremorris for a local history tour led by Colmán Ó Raghallaigh. The tour began in Claremorris Train Station where the children had a very informative tour and were lucky enough to walk over the footbridge. Following this we walked a short distance to view the monument erected in memory of many famine victims. Next we returned to the bus and headed to another part of the railway line. Colmán pointed out the railway line to Galway that is no longer in service. It is hoped this line will open again in the future. We then headed off to view the old famine workhouse. Many of the children were surprised to learn this was an old workhouse. The Famine is a topic we have covered in a lot of depth over the last view months and we are currently reading some novels based on this time in Ireland. Our previous knowledge on this topic helped the children understand the significance of the workhouse and having one located so near. Following the closure of the workhouse we learned the building was then used as a bacon factory. We returned to the bus again and headed back towards the town centre. Colmán gave us with a very informative talk on the history of the current library building used as a church in olden days. The children were fascinated to learn this was a building that was hit by lightning twice in the past. This information suggests that the old saying may be something of a myth. Our final visit was just across the road to the stunning St Colemans Church. As a special treat Colmán organised for the children to visit the gallery which is used by the church choir. Here the children were treated to a stunning view of the church and alter. The children got a close up view of the organ, one of the largest organs in Ireland. The final part of our tour included a look at the stunning stain glass windows and a description of the images that appear on them. Colmán was extremely knowledgeable and answered all of our questions. It was a very enjoyable day.
Here in Gortskehy N.S., we are delighted to announce our involvement with the Digital Schools Excellence programme. We are part of a three school cluster which includes St. Pats BNS, Castlebar and Meelickmore N.S.. We made an application to be involved in this project to the Department of Education and Skills last year and were successful. We will be working as a team over the next 3 years to enhance our teaching and your children’s learning using digital technologies. Each family will receive a copy of our first newsletter below. We are in the process of developing our own website where you will be able to view our ongoing progress throughout the year.