Edinburgh Book Festival 2017

Mrs Macfadyen is organising a trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival on August 21st 2017. This is a fantastic trip to see three different authors of three very different novels, then hang about in the sunshine, eat ice creamand check out the huge book shop.

Canadian Sebastian de Castell‘s novel, Spellslingers is a dramatic tale of tricks, romance, magic and comedy.

Catherine Barter’s first novel, Troublemakers, includes unknown mothers, family secrets, terrible danger and discovering the truth. She will be appearing with Swedish Christoffer Carlsson who is a criminologist and author. Explore his world with his first young adult novel, October is the coldest month.

If interested please give your name to your English teacher or Mrs Macfadyen asap. Tickets cost £3 each plus cost of bus, but the Festival are also supplying a £3 book token for every pupil who visits.

Plus the ice cream and cakes are awesome.

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Titanic Project 2017: messing about in the water

The Titanic Crew spent this morning completing their writing challenges, preparing materials for the display and ageing their crew and passenger biographies with teabags and coffee grains. We were surprised to discover that one of the biographies, which were part of the first day’s tasks, featured a baby boy who also appears in one of the pupil’s written reports. The crew also enjoyed a viewing of Ghosts in the Abyss with Mrs Jeffrey, and spent the afternoon at Wishaw Sports Centre, practising their swimming under the benevolent eyes of Mrs McNeish and Mrs Dynes.

Thursday was spent preparing all of the remaining materials produced during this year’s project for display, almost destroying the Library’s laminator (no names, but you know who you are!). The very last day of our three week Titanic Project saw the group head for Greenock and the Caribbean Princess with Miss Walmsley and Mr McGleish, where they toured a modern day cruise liner and learned about life and work on the ocean wave. Our thanks to Princess Cruises and Greenock Ocean Terminal for their kindness in allowing our pupils and staff aboard.

Tapestry Project

Professor Nigel Osborne and colleagues visited OLHS today to launch This place is our place, a project about Motherwell, past, present and future. The team are working with S1 pupils in Art and Design, Music and English to create poems, artwork and songs relating to their hometown.

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The next stage is for pupils to collect stories, images, sounds and mementos of life in Motherwell from their families that can be shared on the This place is our place website. Contributions are also welcomed from members of the public: please see the website for details.

This place is our place is part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.

Titanic Project 2017: films and measurements

The Titanic Crew spent the morning watching the 1958 film, A Night to Remember, and compared it with the 1997 film, Titanic, that they were more familiar with. The pupils preferred the older film because it focused on the disaster. Throughout the film, our resident Titanic fanatic, PT English Mrs Millar, pointed out important events, areas of controversy and the background of various passengers.

The afternoon was spent with Miss Lees and Miss Wheeler from Maths who helped pupils to visualise the size of Titanic by comparing it with our school building. The crew took the trundle wheels around the yard for their measurements before working on their calculations. It turns out that the school could fit twice into the footprint of the Titanic!

 

Excellence and Equity Awards 2017

School awards highlight positive initiatives

Excellence and Equity Awards 2017
Productive Partnerships – Purposeful Learning
Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell
Titanic Project

 As a result of changes to SQA exams, staff at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, spotted an opportunity to provide an exciting programme of interdisciplinary experiences for some of our National 4 students. Our aim was to help pupils gain additional qualifications while expanding their life experiences and raising awareness of the options available to them on leaving school, all through focusing on the Titanic disaster.

We are now approaching the third year of this vibrant project which runs over three weeks of the SQA diet. The programme coordinators are PT Pupil Support, Lyn Zambonini, and Library Resource Centre Manager, Jennifer Macfadyen and involves staff from across Our Lady’s High School, local businesses, voluntary groups and national organisations.

Following an initial introduction, the programme is split into four broad areas: ship building and design; life aboard the Titanic; the disaster itself; and the rediscovery of the wreck.

We were stunned to discover that the steel plates that built Titanic had actually come from the Colville Steelworks in Motherwell, making a wonderful connection with our local heritage. Pupils were lucky to experience Tata, now Liberty Steel, in the process of rolling the steel plates with a guided tour by staff at the plant, who also provided pupils with many stories of life at the steelworks and a thorough grounding in Health and Safety routines.

Although the Titanic was built in Belfast, we were able to take advantage of the Clyde’s vast experiences in ship-building, visiting the Titan Crane at Clydebank, and the Denny Tank Museum at Dumbarton. Titan staff explained how riveting gangs worked, how the shipyards were a part of the community and how dangerous life was while the Denny Flotation Tank demonstrated the engineering expertise involved in designing and testing ships’ hulls. The group also discovered that Denny’s was even involved in testing some of Titanic’s lifeboats. This information became invaluable when learning about buoyancy with Science teachers back at OLHS, and designing their own hulls.

Pupils also learned more about some of the passengers and crew aboard and the different lives they led on a luxury liner depending on their class. English showed the films, A Night to Remember and Titanic, and compared the special effects and reliability of each. Our group were able to put their new-found knowledge into practice by working with Lifestyle Development staff to create a shipboard lunch for staff – although staff did not know until the last minute whether they would receive the 1st, 2nd or 3rd class treatment and dining experience.

To bring everything up to date we contacted Greenock Ocean Terminal who kindly arranged for us to have a tour of the Caribbean Princess. We used this experience as a focus on careers, bringing along our Careers Advisor, Miss Ruth Robertson from SDS to provide detailed advice. Seeing aboard a real cruise ship gave pupils a whole new way of looking at the world, and the numerous careers open to them. They were also keen to compare the Caribbean Princess to what they had already learned about ship design. They were definitely impressed by the safety regulations and the numbers of lifeboats.

Turning our attention to the disaster itself, Mr Walter Lee from the RNLI kindly came along to demonstrate what happened with the iceberg and graphically explain what would have happened to the Titanic’s passengers in the water, including the effects of hypothermia – he even brought along his own mini iceberg!

Other activities have included creating a map of the world demonstrating the Titanic’s route (Social Subjects); printing and poster making (Art and Design); trying out Morse code (Science); an afternoon swimming courtesy of NL Leisure (Lifestyle Development); building their own model Titanic (Social Subjects / Art); discussion of moral issues relating to women and children first and the treatment of 3rd class passengers (RE); further moral issues relating to the wreck arose following a screening of Ghosts of the Abyss: should the Titanic be raised? Should material be removed? Should the ship be left to rust to nothing? (English); and multi-lingual newspaper front pages (Modern Languages).

With so many stories being generated from the project, we wanted pupils to be able to record the aspects that were most important to them, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator, so we introduced the group to storyteller, Allison Galbraith, thanks to part-funding from the Scottish Book Trust. Allison demonstrated the art of storytelling, and guided the group through creating and recording their own stories, helping them to record their own voices for posterity. Allison started by introducing herself and just talking with the group, building pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to participate. Allison also demonstrated breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups before recording began, with further advice on presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite occasionally breaking into the giggles, every pupil managed to record their own work beautifully.

Discussion with pupils led to an additional trip which saw us taking the ferry to Rothesay and the stunning Mount Stuart House. This mansion was completed in 1912, the same year as the Titanic disaster and thus pupils were not only able to experience actually travelling across water – a new experience for all of them – but to see luxurious interiors similar to those of the ship they’d been learning all about.

The Titanic Project continues to develop with partnerships emerging as various individuals and groups express an interest in participating. In 2016, our pupils were even able to join with St Brendan’s Primary as part of their anniversary visit to Belfast to see the Titanic Museum for themselves.

The Titanic Project has been a huge success over the last two years. We have seen the pupils blossom, gaining in confidence, pulling together as a team, and their ideas of what’s available to them in the future have expanded rapidly. Each year pupils have created an exhibition of their experiences which have been visited by classes from across OLHS and visitors to the school, leading to further discussions and expressions of interest. Last year all of the pupils involved achieved the SQA qualifications. “Local investigations” at SCQF level 4.

Feedback from pupils themselves has been outstanding:

”I thought it would be boring, but it was brilliant!”;

“I liked how we went on adventures and explored all the museums”;

“I seemed to get a better relationship with people that I hadn’t spoken to since primary”;

”I actually wanted to come to school!”

The Project continues to explore new ground and build new partnerships. Staff coordinators continue to collect materials, ideas and contacts and we look forward to its continuing success long into the future.

 

 

BBC School Report 2017

BBC School Report provides an opportunity for pupils between 11-16 to experience a day in a newsroom, creating and reporting on the news. Groups can choose to report on the events of the day as they occur, build their own reports on a theme, or a mixture of both. Our Lady’s BBC School Report 2017 focused on the Transplant Games which are taking place in North Lanarkshire from 27th-30th July this year.

In advance of School Report Day on 16th March, pupils spent every Friday lunchtime in the Library selecting issues to investigate, improving their knowledge of organ transplants and making contact with relevant organisations and individuals who might be able to help them. As the day drew closer, pupils also volunteered time after school to learn about and practice sending requests for information, interview techniques, creating surveys and writing reports. Senior pupils involved worked on a storyboard for a video report.

One group of pupils set up an interview with heart transplant recipient, Mr Brian Gorman, who described his life before and after his operation. Mr Gorman explained that he did not know whose heart he had received but that he sent an update every five years to the donor’s family through the hospital to say thank you.

Another group interviewed the Chair of the North Lanarkshire games, Councillor Jim McCabe, who explained the reasons why North Lanarkshire was so keen to host the event and personal friends who had died because the wait for the transplant had been just too long for their bodies to cope.

Pupils were also keen to investigate attitudes to and knowledge of organ transplantation in school and created a survey for staff and pupils.

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On the day, pupils completed more surveys and also visited asked staff if they would like to share their reasons for carrying a donor card. The group created bullet points from all of their sources of information which became part of our School Report Ideas Wall. They collated the responses of the survey and designed posters to illustrate their data, which were combined with the storyboard and bullet points to create our video report. They wrote reports on all of their investigations. Throughout the day, pupils took photos of their colleagues and tweeted what they were up to. We even sent a photo of the dreich day outside to BBC Weather Watchers!

Naturally, with such a lot going on we had one or two issues, but the pupils were fantastic, and remained positive throughout, even when Mr Kerr and Mrs Macfadyen were tearing their hair out.

Our thanks to everyone in OLHS for their support, to Mr Gorman and Councillor McCabe for taking the time to come along to the school, and to everyone who responded to our e-mails and requests for help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

All of our BBC School Report work is available by clicking here.

Pi Day 2017

Report from Miss Lees

On Tuesday 14th March pupils and staff in the school celebrated Pi day. Pi jokes were added to the daily bulletin, the maths teachers wore a variety of Pi related clothing, Pi quizzes and colouring sheets were available from the library and Pi facts were added to the school twitter feed. S1 pupils all worked together in the Kamwokya room to create a colour coded paper chain that displayed the first 1000 digits of Pi. S2 had double fun, writing Pilish poems in English, where they had to use the digits of Pi as the word lengths in the poem. They then arrived at maths and made Pi Skylines, representing the digits visually as buildings. At lunchtime pupils could take part in a Pi recital. A closely fought battle ended with an amazing S1 Imogen McFadden reciting 109 digits from memory. Mr Drummond presented the winning pupil with a trophy and a Pi cookie. The S2 winner of the Pilish poetry also received a cookie as a prize. The staff were surprised and happy to find apple Pi(e)s delivered to their departments at lunchtime, courtesy of PT Maths Mr Drummond. Thanks to everyone who made the day such a success!

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π Day is coming!

Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14th (ie 3.14). This year, events in OLHS will include:

  • a π colouring competition (Library, lunchtimes, 50p to enter, Mon-Thur)
  • a π word quiz  (Library, lunchtimes, 50p to enter, Mon-Thur)
  • a π reciting competition (S1/2, Library lunchtime, Tuesday 14th March)
  • a whole day of activities in Maths, English, Modern Languages etc

Science: Fiction: Make: Believe

Recently the school entered a Scotland-wide creative writing competition for S2 pupils, organised by St Andrew’s University, called Science: Fiction: Make: Believe. Pupils were to write a 750 word creative piece about any Scottish scientist, alive or dead, or the impact of their discoveries or inventions. Through the collaboration of the English Department, Science Department and Library Resource Centre, all of our S2 pupils participatedwith staff selecting the work of Morgan Mackie (Alexander Fleming) and Andrew Ross (Dr Knox) as the two entries from Our Lady’s High School.

The judges have awarded Certificates of Commendation to both Morgan and Andrew, and they are invited to attend the award ceremony on the 4th March, at St. Andrews University School of Physics & Astronomy. A representative from the Royal Society of Edinburgh will present the prizes before an audience of pupils and their families who are warmly invited to the all-day event.

Well done, Andrew and Morgan! You can read their essays on our school website shortly.

ESU Debates – second round

Report from Mrs Millar

Congratulations to Grant Mackin and Christopher Wilson on their fantastic performance in Round 2 of the ESU School’s Mace Debating Competition. The boys were in fine form, opposing the motion: “This House would value economic growth over environmental protection.” Opponents were Uddingston Grammar, who were also hosts. In the end, after two excellent debates, Our Lady’s and The Wellington School won their places in the third round of this prestigious competition.

The motion for the next round is: “This House would abolish the House of Lords.”

Watch this space! #pollitolhs

Literacy across learning

S2 are working hard on a writing competition organised by St Andrew’s University. The aim of the competition is to put Art into STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Pupils have to link their Science and English learning by researching their favourite Scottish scientist and using the information to write a creative piece.

So far, we have been entertained by essays on Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming and John Logie Baird. Mrs Millar, Mrs Sinclair, Mrs Macfadyen and Mr McKendrick will judge the essays and choose the best two to represent the school. The overall winner will receive a voucher for £50 and the four runners-up £25. Good luck everyone!

Meanwhile, all of S1 were presented with their Pocket Literacy Guide, kindly bought for them by the PTA. These handy books contain rules for punctuation, grammar and spelling, as well as hints for writing in different subject areas. We know that S1 will put these guides to good use in all their subjects.

Rachel Clinton visit

Report by Mrs Millar

The Advanced Higher English class had a treat last week when one of our former pupils, Rachel Clinton, visited our class and shared her insights into creative writing. Rachel is currently studying Professional Writing at City of Glasgow College, and has already performed readings of her work in public. We read and heard both her poetry, and a powerful interior monologue. The class – including teacher and Librarian – then took part in a writing exercise to see what we could achieve.

A massive thanks to Rachel for giving up her time; the class was impressed and very grateful!

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Google Expeditions

Pupils went exploring today through Google Expeditions, an app that allows classes to visit coral reefs, the Moon, the Grand Canyon, Rio de Janeiro, World War I trenches or the rainforest through Virtual Reality.

Over 200  pupils participated from departments including Social Subjects, English, Modern Languages, Science and Nurture. Staff were equally keen to try out the technology for themselves, so there was a steady stream of adults wandering around with the viewers too.

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Google Expeditions

On Friday the 25th of November the Social Subjects Faculty will have the privilege of hosting a team from Google Expeditions who facilitated Virtual Reality (VR) learning experiences for a number of our pupils. This unbelievable system allows those taking part to actually experience what it was like to be a soldier in the trenches during the First World War.

A number of different subject departments are involved: Social Subjects, English, Modern Languages, Science and Nurture. Over 200 of our young people will get the chance to be involved in a worthwhile and memorable experience. We hope it helps to bring their study of the First World War to life! #pollitolhs

Performing Arts / English London Trip

Report by Mrs Millar and Mrs Jeffrey

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The annual Performing Arts/English trip to London was an action packed weekend from start to finish. 29 pupils joined Mrs Smith, Miss McGhee, Mrs Jeffrey and Mr Bryans on Thursday at teatime and the fun didn’t stop until Sunday at midnight!

After collapsing exhausted on Thursday night from their journey, the group leapt into Friday action with visits to the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Covent Garden before enjoying a fantastic performance of Wicked. Saturday saw visits to Madame Tussaud’s, the London Eye and the Christmas market- but nothing compared with the London Dungeon, which was so terrifying the group started saying the school prayer.

Sunday began with mass in Fulham, where the group was made very welcome by the Parish Priest and congregation before they hit the shops, including Harrods and Oxford Street. A tired but happy bunch returned to Motherwell at midnight on Sunday.

Edinburgh Book Festival 2016

A bus full of enthusiastic readers headed for the Edinburgh Internal Book Festival on Monday 29th August. Pupils came from S1-6, including the Advanced Higher English class who came along to pick up some tips for their creative writing.

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Our first session featured relatively new writers, Lisa Heathfield and Katherine Howe, who focused on how they had written their books and the research involved in getting the details correct. They had plenty of advice for aspiring writers and encouraged questions by giving away badges. Hands flew up from purple blazers!

Our second talk featured crime author, Anne Cassidy, who has published over forty books. She very quickly had the audience laughing as she explained all the ways that she had killed off her characters. Again OLHS pupils were keen to ask questions, including Conor who asked how Anne would kill him off if he appeared in one of her books. Anne made arrangements with him later on.

The Festival sponsors kindly provided book tokens for each pupil which were quickly snapped up to buy books and get them signed by the authors, providing further opportunities to ask yet more questions. We also  wandered around the gardens and book shop, ate ice-cream and generally chilled out in the beautiful sunshine.

Photography Club

Members of the Photography Club are selecting their five favourite pictures taken over the last year. Over the last few months, pupils have tried out macro photography on fossils, flowers and fruit and veg, learned about working with models and making shadow images, and practised a variety of Photoshop techniques to transform their images. The Club’s  favourite photographs will be printed and displayed in the school.2016_0330_9515_15

Reading Trail comes to an end

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In the last week of the Reading Trail, pupils in S1 English classes had the opportunity to review and assess each others’ work. Pupils used their checklists to decide whether each mind-map met the required criteria and assigned marks accordingly. Staff reviewed pupil assessments and added ‘Magic Marks’ for outstanding examples of work – and to suggest when pupils were being just a wee bit too strict! Each pupil should have three mind-maps based on work completed in the Library (Tam O’Shanter, picture books and graphic novels), along with the books they read in their own time since January. 2016_0330_9509

BBC School Report 2016

March 10th was BBC Schools Report Day 2016 and OLHS participated for the first time. Our plan was to investigate the steelworks in Lanarkshire and pupils worked hard in the Library over many lunchtimes and after school to collate enough material for the big day.

Our journalists split into two sections: the production team investigated sound recording, video recording, editing, direction and photography; researchers investigated copyright free images, the history of steel-making and collected information. Pupils conducted staff interviews, completed a school survey and practiced using the software in advance of March 10th.

Unfortunately (but very realistically), some of this material was unavailable on the day, so we had to come up with a modified plan. Pupils quickly decided to create ‘A day in the life of Our Lady’s’ and set off to talk to staff and find out what was taking place that Thursday. On their return they set to work to edit the video.

Meanwhile, our other student journalists worked steadily to make the interviews available through transcripts, wrote up their research on steel-making, environmental issues and “The Steelman” statue. Olek created a weather report which was tweeted by the BBC Weather Watchers.

By the end of the school day, we had fourteen extremely tired journalists (and two exhausted staff). We all learned a great deal about the issues and difficulties of making news on a daily basis and have a BBC School Report to be proud of.  Congratulations to everyone involved.

Journalists: Rahel Agyiwaah (S4), Fatemeh Assar (S2), Alicja Balanda (S1), Louise Dynes (S2), Piroska Horvath (S4), Holly Irving (S1), Erin Keating (S1), Olek Kyc (S1), Dominic Leary (S1), Suzanne Ntambwe (S4), David Nugent (S2), Finn Ross (S1), Mary-Kate Ross (S4), Angela Sewell (S4), Wiktor Witkowski (S2).

Thanks to Mr Kerr (English) and Mrs Macfadyen (Librarian) for all their support.

You can peruse our BBC School Report material here.

S2 Great Writing Challenge

S2 pupils working on the Great Writing Challenge have been hit by the latest element of chaos: to use the SCRAN website to find a face with a story behind it. Pupils had to imagine what the story behind the face was and use it to add a new character into their on-going story.

SCRAN is a database of material from museums and archives across Scotland and the UK providing access to almost half a million resources.