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.

Scottish Attainment Challenge

Our Lady’s High School is about to begin the Scottish Attainment Challenge. The programme for the first year of the Secondary Challenge aims to improve life and learning for all our young people in many ways, from improving attainment in numeracy and literacy, physical and mental health, to supporting parents and carers and building stronger communities. Through universal interventions – aimed at everyone – to interventions targeting specific groups, we hope to help our young people be as successful and happy as they can be.

The first intervention is the appointment of an Attainment Mentor to each secondary school. Our Attainment mentor is Geraldine McPhee who is looking forward to working with a small group of children to help us engage them more and support them.

We will also be creating an intensive reading recovery group for learners whose reading age is more than 2 years behind their chronological age -READ WRITE INC. as well as a reading fluency and confidence boost group for all learners with a reading age below their chronological age – RAPID PLUS and CHOOSE A PATH. Support for this will come from Mrs Patricia O’Neil and Mr Terry Cowan

Mrs Deborah King is going to assist with enhanced transitions. This work will focus on closing the poverty related attainment gap for targeted pupils. Finally, we are also involved in a project with Tapestry.  Professor Nigel Osbourne and his team are planning to support our school and Braidhurst High School, as well as all of the associated primary schools, in a community project.  The theme is likely to be Motherwell, Past, Present & Future.  All pupils in first year will be involved. We look forward to becoming involved in all of these exciting initiatives.

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.

Visiting authors: Martin Stewart and Alan Bissett

We were delighted to host two author visits on Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th December in the Library with authors Alan Bissett and Martin Stewart.

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Almost 100 S3 pupils were treated to readings, question and answer sessions and Alan’s take on everything from favourite books to films to River City, which he writes for, and how he used memories of his childhood friends to create characters for his first novel. Martin, speaking to S2, explained his writing process, the difficulties of getting published, how to write with a bored dog and his inspiration from photographs. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visits and learned a lot about writing for a living – perhaps we will see some more published authors from Our Lady’s in the future!

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Thanks to both authors for giving up their valuable time, to Scottish Book Trust for co-funding the event and to Mrs Macfadyen for organising the visits.

British Sign Language class

A number of S6 pupils and two members of staff have been learning BSL now for three weeks, under the eagle eyes of Ian, Rachel and Helen from the Lanarkshire Deaf Club. We are becoming much more confident with our finger spelling, colours, animals, greetings, family groups and common signs. We can’t wait to start working in pairs on our conversational skills, beginning next week.

The ten week course, organised by Mrs Donnachie and Mrs Zambonini, is a chance for everyone to become more deaf aware, and to add to our communication skills.

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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Staff in-service day 21st November

The whole staff spent an enjoyable and informative day on Monday sharing good practice across the school with a series of workshops. From Socratic Questioning to Literacy Profiling, from software demonstrations in SFL and Modern Languages to Political Literacy, from team building to Twitter, everyone came away with a really positive picture of all the innovative ways in which we are working to close the attainment gap and get the best out of all of our pupils in Our Lady’s High School.

Thanks to all staff who threw open their doors to others!

Donald Dewar Debating Competition

Huge congratulations to our debaters Grant Mackin and Christopher Wilson on another outstanding display in this prestigious competition, held in Kilsyth Academy.

The boys were drawn against the first of Kilsyth Academy’s two teams, arguing against the motion: “This House would ban Referendums.” Kilsyth’s second team then debated with St Maurice’s Academy on the same motion. The judges were very impressed with all four teams, making clear that the standard of debating on display was far in excess of that normally seen in a first round heat.

After deliberation, the teams from Our Lady’s and St Maurice’s progressed to the second round of this national competition. Well done boys! #pollitolhs

Kids Lit Quiz 2016

Ten pupils from Our Lady’s took part in the West of Scotland heat of the Kids Lit Quiz at Our Lady’s High School, Cumbernauld. The teams were selected from volunteers who participated in the OLHS heats run by Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen.

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The Kids Lit Quiz is the work of former academic, Wayne Mills, who comes from New Zealand. Wayne wanted to acknowledge and motivate pupils’ reading in a competitive way, and now travels the world organising the Kids Lit Quiz in Hong Kong, South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, USA and of course, the UK. He writes all of the questions himself which remain a closely guarded secret.

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OLHS entered two teams of pupils with two reserves, who practiced hard in the lead up to the quiz, checking their knowledge of children’s stories from nursery rhymes and fairy tales to the latest teen fiction and graphic novels. On the day, the teams answered ten rounds of questions and were even joint round winners on three occasions. Our eventual placings of 11th and 17th are a credit to all of their efforts in what was an extremely difficult quiz.

Our two teams, their reserves and Kids Lit Quiz creator, Wayne Mills.

Our two teams, their reserves and Kids Lit Quiz creator, Wayne Mills.

Many thanks to the pupils who took part:
S1: Chloe O’Neill, Sarah McDonald, Imogen McFadden, Cailin Smith, Laura Findlay
S2: Eva Winton, Olek Kyc, Finn Ross, Sophie Galloway, Erin Keating

With thanks naturally to our mascots, Brian the Brain and Angus the Ape.

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.

Edinburgh Book Festival

All pupils who signed up for the Edinburgh Book Festival trip on 29th August should pay their money now to Mrs Macfadyen.

The cost is now reduced to £6, thanks to the bus being paid for OLHS and a grant from the Festival. In addition, every young person visiting the Festival receives a £3 token to spend in the Festival bookshop.

If you want to find out more about the authors we are going to see, click here for the Festival website  or look up the individual authors.

Lisa Heathfield on Twitter: @LisaHeathfield

Katherine Howe’s website and Twitter: @katherinebhowe

Anne Cassidy’s website and Twitter: @annecassidy6

Titanic Project 2016 : Storyteller

Professional storyteller, Allison Galbraith, returned to OLHS to help the Titanic Group record their stories. Each pupil chose a different aspect of the Titanic to focus on, from the ‘women and children first’ policy, to the lifeboats, to the role of the wireless operator. Allison had previously visited to introduce herself and build pupils’ confidence in speaking before a stranger at the beginning of the project. Each person was invited to share a little about their name and family background until everyone was at their ease. As a result, although pupils were nervous about recording, they were keen to know when Allison would be returning.

Allison started the group off with some breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups, including tongue twisters and jaw massage, before we settled on the comfy seats to record the pupils’ work. Allison provided additional advice on reading speed, pausing and presentation as we worked through the stories. Despite the dangers of breaking into the giggles, every pupil recorded their own work beautifully.

Titanic Project 2016: Greenock Ocean Terminal and Caribbean Princess

Our interdisciplinary Titanic Project has so far covered science, art, history, geography, engineering, catering and storytelling. However, it’s not easy to give pupils an idea of the sort of luxury enjoyed by 1st class passengers aboard the Titanic.

We headed for Inverclyde to the Greenock Ocean Terminal, docking site for cruise ships in the west of Scotland. We could see the Caribbean Princess rising high above the terminal as we drove along from Port Glasgow, and couldn’t believe how tall it was! On arrival we were greeted by Terminal Manager, Craig Collins, who introduced us to the lovely Bruce and Fraser, our guides for the morning.

As you’ll see from the photos, we had a wonderful tour and couldn’t believe the size of this floating town. One or two of us even suffered a little bit of vertigo from the height! We had brought along our SDS Careers Adviser, Ruth Robertson, who answered pupils’ numerous questions about how they could live and work aboard one of these beauties.

This proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our pupils, who certainly left with their eyes opened to different possibilities available to them in the future. Our thanks to Princess Cruises for allowing us aboard, to Greenock Ocean Terminal manager, Craig Collins, for arranging everything on our behalf, and especially to Bruce and Fraser for being such excellent hosts, providing so much information and answering so many questions from so many enthusiastic teenagers.

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Titanic Project Week 1

Our Titanic Project pupils spent a week investigating facts about the ship and ship-building. They worked with storyteller, Allison Galbraith, to learn what makes a decent story, and visited the Titan Crane at Clydebank and the Denny Tank at Dumbarton, part of the Scottish Maritime Museum. The Science Department demonstrated buoyancy and helped pupils investigate floating and then pupils built a copy of the Titanic with Social Subjects.

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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.

Great Writing Challenge – Yay YA+

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Yay! YA+ is a teen fiction book festival, organised and managed by Kirkland Ciccone. It was held for the first time last year at Cumbernauld Theatre (see our report here), and now it’s back for a second helping!

Yay 2016 will take place on 21st April 2016, and Mrs Macfadyen managed to bag 15 places for OLHS.

Trying to decide who gets to go was impossible, so we have decided to use our Yay! YA+ tickets as prizes for our S2 Great Writing Challenge. All of 2nd year are participating in this creative writing / research challenge as part of their English work with the Library.

Winners will be selected for their attention to detail, imagination, vocabulary, and the effort they put into their writing and research. Nominees will be suggested by English Department staff and final seelction of the lucky 15 will be by Librarian, Mrs Macfadyen, PT English, Mrs Millar and a guest judge.

The Best Worst Christmas Jokes Ever

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The Best Worst Christmas Jokes Ever competition was held in the days leading up to Christmas, with prizes awarded by Mrs Macfadyen for the best/worst entries.

The stunning banner was designed by Emilia, Maja, and Sara over a week of lunchtimes in the Library.

Congratulations to the two winners, Louise and Keryn for their groan-out-loud jokes:

What’s green, covered in tinsel and goes “ribbit, ribbit”?
A Mistle Toad

 

How does a penguin build its house?
Igloos it together!

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