Category Archives: Pedagoo@PL

Bringing Children’s Rights into the Classroom [Scotland only]

Are you looking for a way to incorporate Getting it Right for Every Child into your classroom?

Child Rights Launchpad by Unicef UK aims to help you do this. Launchpad is a ready-to-use, Scotland specific resource that promotes learning about rights and supports the Curriculum for Excellence. It covers all 42 articles of the UNCRC directly relating to children and, best of all, this award-winning resource is completely FREE to use!

Don’t just take our word for how good it is, the resource is currently being used by teachers all over Scotland and they’ve been quick to praise Launchpad:

“We have introduced all our S1 pupils to Launchpad and it has definitely increased the pupils’ knowledge of Child Rights.  One great aspect of the resource is its focus on personalisation and choice.  I have also found it a helpful reference as a teacher and have used it to look up information on specific rights which I have then used in my lessons.”

Mrs. Hoyle, Teacher at Douglas Academy, East Dumbarton

See what other teachers (and children) had to say about Launchpad in this short video:


What to expect?

Launchpad is designed at three different levels, broadly aimed at the following age bands:

  • Level 1: three to seven-year-olds;
  • Level 2: eight to 12-year-olds; and
  • Level 3: 13 to 18-year-olds.

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Example of the site’s content.

At each level the ‘missions’ follow the same format. The exploration begins with an introduction to the right, before considering it in a Scottish context. The focus then switches to an international setting, exploring how the right is enjoyed in one or more countries around the world, followed by a related activity. Finally, the ‘mission’ is finished with an interactive quiz and a star for the ‘Super You’ character. After six missions each child or young person receives a certificate.

Detailed Guidance for Adults is available on the website- this will provide you with all the information you need about the resource. It’ll also help you to plan how you use Launchpad in your lessons.

Creating your free account is incredibly easy, simply follow this link, We’re confident that you’ll be glad you did – just remember to encourage your colleagues to create their accounts too!


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Our learning journey in tracking pupils’ learning journey

Our learning journey in tracking pupils’ learning journey and monitoring skills progression in the Broad General Education

The pipe band welcome to Preston Lodge was an amazing start to an amazing day. My colleague Alan and I were delivering our journey in trying to track learning in knowledge, knowledge based skills and soft skills through the Broad general Education.

The journey started 9 years ago at a weekend for pupils who were underachieving, at this point we were delivering master classes to support them. A maths teacher on a Saturday night was getting frustrated with the pupils and exclaimed “Think” at the assembled group. This “think” started the journey as to what do we mean by “think” what are we asking pupils to do? And how can we help pupils scaffold how to do this?

This led to myself and 2 colleagues creating a booklet in different thinking styles to support pupils

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With the implementation of CfE a few years later we started to look at both the knowledge and knowledge based transferable skills within our subject area (science). Through this we have gone through many different transitions of how to support pupils and reached a stage where we settled for the last few years. The success criteria grid that we produced and used links knowledge based transferable skills with content, but also allows pupils to track their progress using a star rating.

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This provides a clear progressive framework to show how they can move forward their thinking forward.


Having spent about 18 months thinking about SOLO Taxonomy (Structured Order of Learning Outcomes), we are now moving into a SOLOesque type of grid which shows more progress in learning by linking ideas in a more visual way. We are trialling this at the moment with some  classes but we think it is a better way to support pupils learning and allow them to become more independent in their studying beyond the classroom.

Untitled6 However through all of these changes and refinements the need to develop a structure for social skills and transferable skills for learning and success kept nagging away at us. We have both been to the Co-operative learning Academy and were delighted by the experience but question why give social goals and then not monitor/measure/record these in some way? How do you show progress in soft skills?

This led to a small literature research after which we created a grid of the most common skills pupils could need in order to succeed both at school but also in life beyond school.


After we had shared this with our faculty we decided to focus on one skill from each section this session. This led us to try to find ways to support pupils to recognise when they are using these skills and then also to measure where they are and what they have to do next in order to improve.

This became cumbersome quickly and a bit “ticky boxy” so on Thursday evening Alan produced a framework which we hope will move us forward.


This framework is a work in progress as we now try to answer some bigger questions such as

What if we could teach students a common set of techniques and reflective questions, throughout the whole school curriculum, that will enable them to not only deal with the day to day challenges of life, but to motivate themselves to achieve their potential and succeed, regardless of their interests and ambitions?

The approach includes the use of Metagcognitive Question cards, geared around encouraging students to contemplate the processes they went through during the lesson on both a cognitive and emotional level. Alternatively, students could be presented with common thinking framework as part of their learning task, to help structure their approach.

One of the key problems with attempting to map out a progress path for certain transferable skills, is that they are by nature general and open to interpretation.  Therefore any attempt to create a definitive progression framework for judging ‘mastery’ of transferable skills is ultimately subjective.

Our initial attempt at a progression map has been based on a ‘start with the end in mind’ principle and attempted to work backwards from an ideal, to a fundamental entry point that opens with an initial consideration of the basics of the skill e.g.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 18.34.43The ongoing challenge is find a way to map activities onto these progression criteria in a way that retains the discrete nature, yet lays the foundation for further progress.

One of the ways we are now looking to demonstrating pupil progress is through the ‘motivational interview’ self-assessment approach. As the name suggests, we want to support pupils to monitor and track their progress thus making it more engaging and meaningful than teacher subjective opinion. Within this, two pupils who the teacher perceives to be similar, could ‘score’ themselves very differently, this is OK because the important thing is not the score but the “what are you going to do now?” for both pupils. And like SOLO, pupils can judge their progress by comparing their approach with clear models/or using techniques from different progress levels. This is a work in progress!

So that is where we have got in our thinking about how to support pupils learning of knowledge, knowledge based transferable skills and social transferable skills.

We would appreciate comments and dialogue to help us move forward in our thinking.

Missed Pedagoo@PL? Catch up on David Cameron’s introduction

[The Real] David Cameron (@realdcameron) launched Preston Lodge Learning Festival in his inimitable style. In a whirlwind session he ranges from Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor through the social geography of East Lothian and meetings with Professor Tim Brighouse, through to the importance of care, compassion and good teaching, and of one teacher’s practice not being any threat to anyone else’s. Enjoy.

On Doing What Makes Me Happy – Co-operative Learning – Values and Practice

“Happiness is when what you think, what say and what you do are in harmony.”  (Mahatma Ghandi)6c7bc1d280e258ac4102eed00469e194

Co-operative learning makes me feel happy.  It also makes me feel perplexed and challenged but this discomfort is worth it, most of the time.  The thing that makes me happy about co-operative learning is the interaction between the values driving this pedagogy and the practical tools it offers us.  Through co-operative learning we’re given specific structures to teach in a way which make values of collaboration, respect, co-operation and growth real in our learning communities as well as offering really high quality, deep and challenging learning experiences.  In co-operative learning I’ve found a set of teaching behaviours – things to say and do in my classroom – which are in harmony with what I think teaching is actually about.

As co-operative learning makes me happy it’s a part of my practice (and my values) that I always really enjoy sharing with colleagues. I got to do this at the Preston Lodge Learning Festival.  When I’m sharing, the main thing I want to share is the actual experience of learning co-operatively.  I don’t think the values and power of co-operative learning can fully make sense without actually doing it, hearing it and feeling it.   I can make this happen in a room with people.  I haven’t yet managed to work out a way to share this on the screen.  So, here I offer an invitation to you to seek out the real life experience co-operative learning for yourself.  Have a read through my thoughts on the values which I think are at the root of co-operative learning and the way these are then converted into practice in learning communities of any and many kinds.

Value: Learning is a social activity.  We learn best in a learning community.

Practice:  Co-operative learning is rooted in face to face interaction.  If we aren’t talking with the people around us about what we’re learning and what they’re learning then we’re missing out.  So, co-operative learning uses a whole range of strategies (many of them also part of the learning tools promoted under the banners of collaborative learning, critical skills or active learning) to make sure that as we hear and read about new concepts we’re also talking them through with people.  It gives us structures to make sure that we’re discussing the big questions of our learning as part of formulating our individual responses to these questions – testing out our own thinking and building on what we hear from others.  This can be through a think-pair-share, a placemat activity, a graffiti board or a jigsaw activity, with co-operative learning structures giving a framework to direct our attention and our conversations onto learning and then push our thinking further.

Value: When we’re creating learning communities we are committed to creating communities as well as making learning happen.  Community means a place where we know that we belong and we feel like we belong.

Practice:  In our learning community we talk a lot about our learning.  We also talk about ourselves and learn what we all have in common.  We learn about what makes us unique in the group.  We learn about how to listen well to others and make them feel valued.  We learn about how to celebrate success.  We form a strong team identity which connects us to people who, before, may have been nameless strangers who have been issued with the same timetable as us.  This isn’t done by someone telling us it’s important and then moving on to the ‘real’ lesson.  We’re given time to get our voice on the table with short, fun questions and activities to share what’s important to us (usually silly things to start with) and we’re given activities and spaces in which to create a team identity with the people that we’re working with.  There are games to play and challenges to overcome.  As we achieve together we build our skills of encouraging others and celebrating success. We feel good about what’s going well and are more equipped to respond positively at times when things don’t go well.

Value:  We learn with and from everyone in our learning community – this means that everyone in our learning community has something to teach us and we have something to teach everyone too.

Practice:  In a co-operative learning group everyone has a clear role so they know what they’re responsible for to make their group work.  The work being done is carefully structured so that each of us is developing knowledge and skills which our team mates will need.  When we take on a task the activity is chunked to make sure that we all need to be involved to be successful and we can’t be successful if we leave someone out.  There will still be differentiation and adaptation, but we all learn with and from each other.  (And, also, because we’re investing time in building our community we’re more ready to value the contribution that different people can make and realise the different ways that people learn through life.)

Value:  We improve ourselves, our relationships and our learning through deliberate practice and a conscious commitment to development.

Practice:  We talk regularly about what we’re learning, how well we’re learning and how to move our learning forward.  Alongside talking about our academic learning we talk about our social learning.  Alongside our clear learning goals there are social goals.  These help us know where we’re going next to make our community a more purposeful, inclusive and harmonious place.  This may sound grandiose but in practice it means we’re spending time together thinking about our attentive listening skills, how we encourage someone, how we stay focused on the work, how we take turns, how we include others.  Our social goals run through our learning experiences.  We collaborate to decide what success will look like.  We agree the behaviours that will make success happen and then we challenge ourselves to put these things in action.  At the end of a learning experience we take the time to process how our social learning has gone, reflecting on what’s been good, what success feels like and deciding what we need to keep working on to get even better.  There is an authentic, caring and often challenging discussion in our learning community about how we treat each other and how we learn together.  This means we’re becoming a stronger learning community in which everyone is able to do our very best thinking and realise our full potential.


Having written all this, I still mainly feel that to really share what co-operative learning means I need to be doing it not talking about it (or typing about it).  I feel happier that way and I suspect that you might feel happier too.  Until we can meet and work on this together, I hope that there’s a learning community of some kind near you who are working co-operatively.  That way you can join them and see if it makes you feel happy too.

PL Loves Learning / Pedagoo R+R Group 8

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 22.37.05“I want to go back to work tomorrow!” sums up the general feeling of review and reflect group 8.

What did we enjoy most?

  • The buzz of the event
  • The passion and enthusiasm of all in attendance
  • A chance to meet with like-minded professionals and engage in a dialogue with people sharing / challenging our interests
  •  The positivity boost that many of us needed on the run up to October break
  •  An overview of areas of research with practical ways to implement them
  •  The chance to ask frank and challenging questions in an environment which encourages you to do so
  • This list could go on………..

That’s not even mentioning the lovely lunch catered by staff and pupils, the decoration or the dedication by all of the people who set up the day/ presented!

Our group managed to attend a wide range of seminars but the overarching feeling was that we had taken something different away from each of them. A small few that stood out for us:

Kenny Piper’s “I Love Marking. No, Really” reminded us of the importance to not only check books and give meaningful feedback but also of how important it is to MAKE LEARNERS ACT ON THE FEEDBACK!

Claire Young’s “Co-Operative Learning Lucky Bag” was described as an engaging, practical session which an opportunity to try activities which are sure to be used in many classrooms from Monday.

Ruaridh Nicolson’s “Introduction to Edmodo” was an excellent opportunity to reinforce ideas on using Edmodo and introduce ways to use it differently. A little reminder for some that it is okay to just use what works and not feel guilty about the other bits that aren’t necessarily helpful to your particular class!

Emma Webster’s “The Learning Cycle” brought the idea of contextualising knowledge to the forefront and provided a reminder of how important it is to make that visible throughout teaching and learning.

It was clear from the conversation that each of us has something to take back on Monday be it spreading the pedagoo message with others, changing our own mindsets, changing our approaches to marking, re-evaluating the way we use praise or even taking a hard look at the way our own schools approach teaching and learning.

And again I could go on….

Over the course of the next year we are looking to involve ourselves with MORE professional reading, trying out the learning cycle, making time and space for joint and cross-curricular planning and maintaining the momentum we will each take back with us on Monday.

PEDAGOO WE NEED YOU – to keep running these events, keep encouraging sharing and keep building our confidence to SHARE!! [We’ll see what we can do! – ED]

How are we going to go back and support others? By sharing the message of Pedagoo! By continuing the conversation and keeping each other motivated! By making it clear to others that the time for taking responsibility for our own professional learning is now! By creating environments where sharing is commonplace and supporting one another is second nature! We want to take this message back with us to colleagues and not be afraid to shout it out loud and clear:

“We have something useful to say and we want to hear your message too!”







So, Kenny has already announced PedagooGlasgow in, well, Glasgow for June. Now it’s my turn to announce Pedagoo@PL in September! What’s PL I hear you ask? PL stands for Preston Lodge – my school!

Two years ago we held the first ever Pedagoo event on the Saturday following the Scottish Learning Festival, we didn’t manage to repeat this feat last year unfortunately so this year we’ve combined it with my school’s first ever Learning Festival – hence Pedagoo@PL. We think you’re going to like it. It’ll be just like any other Pedagoo event, but just at my fab school!

As always with Pedagoo events, this event will be free (apart from the optional catering provided by our school’s charity group – the Persian Ladies – and the Hospitality Academy) and open to all. Preston Lodge High School is just stone’s throw from Edinburgh on the A1, by train or on the number 26 bus.

So, how can you get involved? Just now we’re looking for folk to sign up to lead workshops on the day. Anyone can do this. You just need to have something which you’ve tried (or are trying) in your classroom which you think others might be interested in hearing about. Everyone has something worth sharing, and leading a workshop is always more enjoyable and rewarding than you think it’s going to be!

If you’re wanting to find out more, or submit a workshop, or even to submit your email address to be notified of when we open the event to general registration, just head on over to our Festival webpage:

See you in September 🙂