In June 2015 we received a visit from a Digital Schools of Distinction evaluator to assess our performance against the digital schools criteria. We were delighted to hear that we had received the award of Digital School of Distinction, something that we have always aspired to in RETNS. This award confirms that we are engaging in best practice as regards digital media and are integrating ICT in all aspects of our teaching and learning. The evaluator was aparticularly impressed by our active student ICT committee.
On Friday, November 6th, we held a ceremony to unveil our plaque. Special guests for the event were Paddie Murphy, founding principal of RETNS who did much to promote ICT in the school over many years, Pat Seaver, Director of Blackrock Education Centre, which has provided very valuable professional development courses free of charge to school staff, and celebrity guest Sinead Kennedy from RTE’s Winning Streak, who unveiled the plaque.
Pictured are this year’s student ICT committee with Sinead Kennedy, and delighted students holding their plaque.
In RETNS we always strive to improve our use of ICT to enhance the teaching and learning experiences in our school. Our system has been upgraded to Windows 8 and Office 365, thanks to the fundraising efforts of our Board, parents/guardians and the support of the school community.
Each classroom in the school is equipped with an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and 3-4 standalone pcs. Additionally, we have a laptop trolley which can be moved from class to class for whole class, group and project work. All teachers keep up-to-date with the latest educational websites for their class and share information on what might be useful to others. Extensive use is made of digital cameras and there is also a video camera for use by classes. Many classes take part in digital projects such as Scratch, Photostory, Photopeach, Clay Animation, etc. and use video in drama or cross-curricular projects. Teachers are also making more use of our school website to showcase children’s work. We are always looking at ways to improve the digital experience for our pupils and recently a students’ ICT committee has been formed.
We encourage pupils to continue their learning at home and for that reason children have subscriptions to Mathletics and Reading Eggs/Reading Express. These applications allow 24/7, 365 day access so are especially useful for times when children are away from school. From time to time assignments from these applications are given for homework.
Many parents have asked for suggestions of recommended websites for use at home. Below are some suggestions, although the list is not exhaustive.
Help my kid learn – www.helpmykidlearn.ie This website was created as part of the national strategy ‘Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life’. It brings together relevant information for parents, guardians and family members to help support the child’s literacy and numeracy development.
Scoilnet – www.scoilnet.ie. This is an excellent information portal supported by the Department of Education and Skills for parents/guardians, teachers and students alike.
https://www.khanacademy.org. Described as ‘A personalized learning resource for all ages’, Khan Academy is a well respected site offering quality lessons in many different subject areas.
www.classmaths.com– An Irish website that features a range of online maths resources, linked to the Irish maths curriculum.
www.spellingcity.com-This is a good resource to enhance vocabulary and spelling through games. It can be downloaded onto an Apple or Android device, which means pupils could even be practising their spellings while travelling by bus or car!
www.ixl.com-IXL is a maths practice site. While not Irish in origin, the version of this site available in Ireland is aligned to the Irish curriculum. IXL is a subscription site, although it does offer an opportunity to try out the site for free.
www.tutpup.com-Pupils will need to sign up for this site using an email address.
www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk -This is a good general site for literacy and numeracy resources.
www.ictgames.com-This is a favourite with younger children.
www.fun4thebrain.com-This site has a wealth of games in both maths and literacy.
www.bbc.co.uk/education-This site also has ‘Dance Mat Typing’, a free typing programme.
www.activityvillage.co.uk-This site has a good range of printable activites for those rainy days!
www.arkive.org-A good information site covering nature and science topics.
The last three are games-based maths sites which are very popular with children.
www.storyjumper.com-For those who like creating their own stories.