DARING TO BE DIFFERENT; Schools Who Use Unusual Teaching Methods Are Up for Awards

Article excerpt

Byline: CRAIG McQUEEN

KEEPING pupils enthusiastic about learning is no mean feat for today's teachers.Which is why schools across the country are employing ever-more original methods to ensure children keep making progress. Now, some of those schools are in the running at the Scottish Education Awards 2009. The winners will be announced later this month in a ceremony at the City Halls in Glasgow, hosted by Galaxy FM DJ Des Clarke and BBC Reporting Scotland presenter Sally Magnusson. CRAIG McQUEEN hears how two shortlisted schools are taking a different approach to getting the best out of their pupils.

MOST kids will tell you they'd rather spend their time playing computer games than sitting in a classroom.

But the pupils of Elrick Primary in Westhill, Aberdeen, have found a novel way to do both at the same time.

The school's staff have worked hard to use cutting-edge technology as a way of getting pupils more interested than ever in learning.

And as the idea developed, children even got the chance to play some of today's most popular games as part of the curriculum. The initiative has led to the school being shortlisted in the ICT Learning category at the Scottish Education Awards.

Head teacher Louise Malcolm said: "This is something we've built up over a number of years, beginning with the use of interactive white boards in classes.

"One of our visions was to get everyone in the school involved, so we have invested fairly heavily in training and support for staff.

"We're also aware that we can learn as much from children as they can learn from us. Children are very adept at using technology."

It's a strategy that's reaped dividends, with teachers developing ways of using pupils' favourite computer games to help them learn.

Mrs Malcolm said: "Recently, we have become heavily-involved in games-baselearning, and we've taken part in pilot schemes using the Nintendogs game, which was really successful.

"For example, we had children actually walking dogs, and primary two set up their own blog.

"It has helped us to develop writing skills, and it raised attainment by getting them interested and motivated.

"That's one of the main benefits of using such technology. It helps get kids engaged in areas of the curriculum they may find more difficult."

The strategy has also won the backing of mums and dads.

Mrs Malcolm said: "Parents were sceptical about the Nintendogs project, but, as it went on, they were delighted with the progress the children made.

"The kids were keen to get home to tell their parents about what they had been doing, so parents were pleased to see how motivated their children had been.

"The project allowed us to do things, such as having visits from vets and dog wardens, so we could link it to things right across the curriculum."

It's a system which has also worked throughout the school, with older pupils benefiting, too. …