USA/Scotland exchange visit April 2014

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, International Education, Leadership for Learning | Posted on April 15, 2014

Last week students in Northern Valley Schools, New Jersey welcomed 24 students and 4 staff from Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Families of students in Demarest and Old Tappan schools kindly hosted young people from Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie for the week of 5-12 April. This was our reciprocal visit to the USA following the American students’ visit to Dumfries & Galloway in April 2013.

SATURDAY

We had a good flight on United Airlines from Glasgow to Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday 5th April. It was a very pleasant surprise to be met by Northern Valley friends greeting us warmly at the airport. From there we headed for Demarest High School to meet all host families. In the evening we went to the Ice Skating Rink at the Palisades Centre.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a day for host families to spend some quality time with the new arrivals. Our students were involved in a wide range of activities with their hosts. The weather was superb today and I was delighted to take part in a game of golf at River Vale Country Club.

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

Later that afternoon our chaperone group enjoy a traditional thanksgiving-style meal at Steve and Elaine O’Neill’s house.

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

 

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

Today we all meet up at Demarest at 7.45am and take a private coach to New York City. Highlight of the day is a boat trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. In the afternoon we visit the Reflecting Pools commemorating those lost in the World Trade Center tragedy.

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

 

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

TUESDAY

Today we have a very full and exciting day, starting in Central Park at the ‘Imagine’ commemoration for John Lennon.

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

We then head for the Museum of Natural History and then an opportunity for shopping at Times Square.

At the Museum of Natural History

At the Museum of Natural History

Our dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner features our waiters and waitresses also starring as Broadway singers in their own right!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

After our meal we head to the Broadway show, ”Wicked”, which is for many of our group a highlight of the week. A truly excellent show.

Everyone enjoyed the show!

Everyone enjoyed the show!

 

 

IMG_9437Wednesday

Today, we all go to school, either at Old Tappan or Demarest. It’s very interesting to visit a range of classes in a New Jersey school. The schools are very well equipped with technology and other resources. In the evening, all the chaperones enjoyed a lovely meal at Claudia and Evan Cooper’s house. Claudia’s cooking is wonderful. I even took a picture of breakfast!

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Thursday

Today our group takes on the challenge of the Project Adventure ropes course. Everyone has their own challenges and successes on this, with beautiful weather today helping all to enjoy the outdoor activities. In the evening we have a formal reception at Old Tappan with a few speeches and exchanges of gifts.

All smiles at the evening reception

All smiles at the evening reception

 

 

Dr Chris Nagy, totally committed to the success of the exchange visit

Superintendent Dr Chris Nagy, a great advocate for the Northern Valley / Dumfries & Galloway partnership

 

Cool dudes

Some cool dudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Northern Valley hosts

Our Northern Valley hosts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Another very full day starting at the Empire State Building with wonderful 360 views of New York and New Jersey from the top.

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

 

We then go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This massive museum houses a huge range of amazing artefacts.

George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776

Famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we all board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’ for an evening cruise and dinner. We enjoyed fantastic views of New York from the boat and also of the illuminated Statue of Liberty.

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

 

 

 

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board 'The Spirit of New Jersey'

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been a week we’ll never forget! Many thanks to all our friends and families in Northern Valley, New Jersey.

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Digital Commonwealth Launch @ Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on October 27, 2013

On Friday I attended the very successful Digital Commonwealth Launch at Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow.  The project is funded by the Big Lottery, the Media Trust and the University of the West of Scotland.

In the schools strand of the project, the aim is to involve young people in each of Scotland’s local authority areas in digital reporting of Commonwealth themes (place, people, culture, exchange) in leading up to the Queen’s Baton Relay in June 2014. Learners from 32 school clusters from targeted areas of the most socio-economic need will be offered an opportunity to participate.

IMG_0789The schools programme will promote digital literacy skills through a series of in-school training workshops, using readily available technology to help pupils tell their own stories through blogs, video, audio and social media. Participating schools will receive learning materials which can help support existing and/or new school projects.  These materials will support topics such as e-safety, copyright, active citizenship and media ethics to assist pupils in developing skills and knowledge to produce creative, appropriate and engaging content.

 

Digital Commonwealth launch

How to Change the World (on one A4 page)

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence | Posted on August 14, 2013

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Music Education Expo, Barbican Centre, London

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, International Education, Leadership for Learning, Learning & Teaching, New Learning, video conferencing | Posted on April 4, 2013



Over 3000 delegates signed up for the UK’s largest ever music education conference. Sponsored by Rhinegold publishing, and with the endorsement of Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) the event took place in the Barbican Centre, London on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March. I was pleased to be invited by the editor of Music Teacher magazine, Chris Walters to present at the Music Technology session on our video conference teaching programmes. Polycom UK gave great support to my presentation, enabling me with ease to have a live link with John Wallace (Principal at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire) in Glasgow; with Grant Golding (brass tutor) demonstrating a live lesson to a pupil in a Dumfries & Galloway school; and with Christianne Orto (Dean of Distance Learning) in the Manhattan School of Music, New York. Many thanks to all participants who assisted in demonstrating the amazing potential of video conferencing for learning and teaching.

Science video conference lessons in Penpont Primary School with Heather Reid

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, Learning & Teaching, Science | Posted on February 26, 2013

Today was a beautiful day to drive from Dumfries up to Penpont and observe the 18th of 18 video conference lessons Heather Reid has delivered live and interactive from the Glasgow Science Centre in recent weeks. 10 schools have been involved in this project in partnership with the Glasgow Science Centre and already I’ve been discussing with Heather further plans for developing learning and teaching through video-links. The teachers and pupils have made a great success of this opportunity with Heather. It’s now important to take time to review progress and fully evaluate how we can develop pedagogy in this new area of distance learning. One thing we can say though. It works!!

John Maxwell Geddes in Dumfries & Galloway Schools

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, Learning & Teaching, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on February 26, 2013



John Maxwell Geddes is one of Scotland’s leading composers. In addition to composing, he has lectured at many universities throughout Europe, the United States, and Russia, and has held various conducting posts, including that of principal guest conductor of the Dumfries and Galloway Regional Orchestra. John studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, and following his graduation, worked as a school teacher until winning a scholarship that enabled him to study in Copenhagen with Niels Viggo Bentszon.
 John has had a long association with Dumfries & Galloway and we’re delighted to have such a distinguished composer working with us on composing projects for young people in 4 primary schools in the region. The weather this week has been cold and clear and after a busy day, John and I took a trip in the sunshine down to Kippford on the Solway coast.



Stephen Heppell’s visit to Dumfries & Galloway Schools

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, Learning & Teaching | Posted on February 24, 2013


On Thursday and Friday of this past week schools were delighted to have a visit from Professor Stephen Heppell. We’re very grateful for his support as we look to enhance learning through the use of mini iPads in certain schools. Pupil-led proposals from 18 schools were received for the use of mini iPads in learning and are now being considered by Stephen. During Thursday and Friday, he met with pupils in 5 schools, 4 in person and one over video conference. The outcomes of his deliberations are being eagerly anticipated!


Drummore Primary’s virtual lessons with Heather@Glasgow Science Centre

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, New Learning, Science, video conferencing | Posted on February 20, 2013

This week, young people in Drummore Primary took part in water-based science experiments led by Heather Reid from the Glasgow Science Centre. Drummore School is one of ten Dumfries & Galloway schools involved in video conference science lessons delivered by Heather live from the Science Centre in Glasgow. Feedback from teachers and pupils has been really positive, with all participants totally engaged in the practical nature of learning in science. Drummore is Scotland’s most south-westerly school, located only a few miles from the beautiful Mull of Galloway.

Young people in Drummore are used to lessons via video-link. Since 2005, pupils in Drummore have received instrumental music lessons via video conference. In 2007, many pupils enjoyed live video sessions from London with Rod Franks (Principal Trumpet with the London Symphony Orchestra). In 2009, Professor Stephen Heppell paid them a visit to see how video conference lessons were progressing. Tomorrow, Professor Heppell is visiting Dumfries & Galloway again and we look forward to hearing his views on how learning & teaching using technology can be further developed.

Heather Reid’s live video conference lessons from the Glasgow Science Centre

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, Learning & Teaching, New Learning, Science, video conferencing | Posted on February 5, 2013


We’re now into Heather Reid’s 4th day of science lessons to Dumfries & Galloway schools live via interactive video conference from the Glasgow Science Centre. Young people from 10 primary schools across the 100 mile+ wide region have enjoyed a fantastic opportunity to learn about climate change, renewable energies and weather related issues with Heather presenting direct into classrooms live from the Glasgow Science Centre. Today it was the turn of young people from Lincluden in Dumfries. With the support of their teacher Miss Agnew, the P5 class engaged in discussion with Heather and each other in groups as they considered the causes and consequences of carbon emissions.



Science Experiments in Dalry School via Video Conference

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, Learning & Teaching, New Learning, Science, video conferencing | Posted on February 4, 2013

Today, Heather Reid (in the Glasgow Science Centre) led 3 one hour video conference sessions to 3 schools in Dumfries & Galloway. The pupils in Dalry School enjoyed their second virtual lesson today, this time taking on the challenge of a practical experiment in class. The pupils made red cabbage indicator and used it to test a variety of liquids which they had earlier predicted to be either acid, alkaline or neutral. One of the purposes in today’s practical video conference session was for pupils to better understand the effects humans are having on the Earth by considering how acidic our oceans have become.


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