At Firefly we love talking to teachers. It is always inspirational to hear the innovative ways they are using technology to make a real difference in the learning experience of their students and so November is an exciting month for us as we head out on the Firefly Roadshow.
This year saw events at Blackheath High School for Girls and The Queen’s School in Chester. As always, each roadshow combines updates on the latest news from Firefly along with the opportunity for schools to share and discuss best practice through a series of presentations and round table discussions.
This year was as inspiring as ever with particular highlights including:
Steps schools can take to enhance the quality of teaching
Former Schools Minister David Laws opened the proceedings with a talk looking at the challenges facing education in a post election world. These included issues surrounding the need to grow the teacher workforce in the face of increasing student numbers, as well as finding ways to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in schools. It was clear that whilst a lot of responsibility lies with the policy-makers in Government, there was significant steps and actions that schools are taking to address these issues.
Increasing collaboration between teachers and students
The Geography department from Blackheath High School shared how Firefly is used in their subject to support greater collaboration between teachers and students. Whether this is teachers planning their lessons and resources as a department, students working together in groups and presenting their work through Firefly, or teachers giving students the materials they need to achieve success, within a single central hub. Firefly provides the department with the flexibility they need to deliver differentiated teaching and learning, whilst also helping the students develop the independent learning skills they need in a safe and secure environment.
Inviting pupil voice and fostering a sense of responsibility
The Queen’s School in Chester showed how they used Firefly to meet the needs of the school, beyond the traditional classroom. They wanted to give their students greater autonomy within the school in order to foster a sense of responsibility and leadership. As part of this, Firefly plays a key role in providing students with an effective voice within the school. Students are responsible for managing their own communications within the wider school community making them part of the fabric of Firefly, rather than just consumers of information. Firefly was shown to be a key part of the communication strategy at the school, acting as the primary channel for managing and sharing messages and information with the whole school community.
Improving speed and quality of marking through audio feedback
Caludon Castle School in Coventry wanted to find a way to “use technology to improve Learning and Teaching but at the same time reduce workload”. They recognise the importance of high quality feedback to support their students in achieving the best possible outcomes, but they were aware of the considerable burden that this can impose on teachers. During their show and tell, they demonstrated how they overcame this challenge by supporting each student’s learning using Firefly’s audio feedback feature. By recording 5 minutes of feedback for every student, it was not only quicker to mark a class’s essays, but the quality of feedback for their students was significantly improved. As a result of this approach, each student now receives detailed, differentiated feedback on every piece of work they submit and the amount of time teachers spend marking has been cut by up to 75%. Teachers have more time to focus on teaching and students love the way in which marking is made more accessible for them.
We would like to thank all the attendees for sharing their thoughts and ideas, and we look forward to continuing the conversation over the months ahead. Firefly’s ongoing design and development is driven by schools and teachers, so once again thank you to everyone who came along - we couldn’t do it without you.