Wave hello to the future, kids
Four-year-old Gemma Stockwell notes that the Primary 1 children are good at sitting. She likes it when they sit down, while her friend Niamh Sherrington enjoys waving at the children and watching them wave back. The use of GlowMeet and webcams means that there is plenty of sitting to approve of and quite a bit of waving done, too.
This is the second year that Kinnaird Primary in Falkirk has used Glow as part of the transition process from nursery to primary. In prominent place in the nursery is the smartboard, which is linked up to a webcam in the P1 class. The children in nursery can watch the P1s at work, which takes away any fears they have about "big school" and ensures that they start school with a deeper understand of what they will be doing. Similarly, the children in P1 can watch and interact with the children in the nursery they have not long left behind.
Early-years officer Lynette Wilson came up with the idea, following some training sessions she had attended. Keen to use Glow to enhance the transition process, she arranged for the webcams to be set up and the screen to become an integral part of the nursery surroundings.
"We try to have it on as often as possible," says Mrs Wilson. "It's good for those children who are a bit anxious. Some kids will take a seat and watch. They get to know the teacher, where the trays are, what they do at maths time."
At group time the little ones will gather around and watch the screen. Mrs Wilson chats to them about what the P1 children are doing and encourages them to ask questions or speak about what they see. Typical questions are based around golden time and playtime. Later they can either visit the classroom and ask questions or, with the use of a microphone, ask via Glow.
For the children who are anxious about starting school, the webcam ensures that by the time they do so, the P1 classroom is already familiar to them. Mrs Wilson talks of one little boy who, while initially nervous, had his mind put at rest when he recognised the classroom from the webcam.
"It definitely made a difference," she says. "We don't want it to be a big thing."
The result is that the children are very at ease with using Glow. "They get used to the terminology of Glow and webcams. This morning three of the nursery children went along to the Primary 1 class to set up the webcam," says Mrs Wilson.
Over in the P1 class, there is a resounding yes from the children when they are asked if they remember how they used to watch the older children, when they were at nursery.
Five-year-old Cameron McRobbie thinks of nursery as being a "long, long time ago". He would often wander over to the smartboard and watch the schoolchildren via Glow.
"We used it to help know what to do in Primary 1," says classmate Eve McLaren, while Alex Hanna says it proved to her that "nothing scary happens" in P1.
Class teacher Donna Melville also plays an active part in the use of Glow. When the P1s recently made an advert for a toy museum as part of a class project, they used the webcam to show the nursery children. She has also helped the pupils respond to the nursery children's questions and think about what advice they have to give.
For many of the children starting in her class, "soft start" is not new. As well as having observed her class via the webcam while at nursery, they were also able to come and join in on occasions.
"I think it is super, and great for the children to see the transition from nursery to P1," she says. "It is also good to share work if we are doing something similar on different levels. Sometimes they might ask, `can we try that?' It is beneficial for the whole school but most importantly the children enjoy it."
Headteacher Pamela Adamson describes the webcam as allowing for a "fly on the wall"-type experience. While the nursery children do still visit the P1 class, Glow has provided opportunities for them to sit and watch, and pose questions to the staff when they come to visit, without disturbing the P1s. It also fits in with her vision of making more use of Glow.
"Our aim this year was to try to increase the pupils' use of Glow and develop their confidence," she says. "The geography of the school means that the nursery is nowhere near the P1 classroom, so we wanted to make use of all opportunities, to make the transition throughout the year and to make it seamless."
This week the children are looking forward to sharing songs with each other via Glow, as part of a rehearsal for a Scottish afternoon they have planned. They have held similar events with other schools.
"We held a Scottish-themed afternoon via Glow with the pupils from Larbert Village Primary and Carron Primary School," recalls Mrs Wilson.
"The Carron Primary children recited Scottish poems and sang Scottish songs. The children at Larbert Village Primary demonstrated weaving technique. We sang Ali Bali, and Three Craws. The children also made tartan pictures and showed them to the other schools.
"Before Christmas, we and some other schools had a GlowMeet with Santa. We sat at group time and spoke about questions we would like to ask him - how many mince pies he eats, how he manages to deliver all the presents in one night."