SCOIL Padre Pio National School has updated its computer room.
The Churchfield national school has increased its number of computer tablets to 40, thanks to the generosity of volunteers, Denis O’Donovan and Frank Falvey. The tablets will benefit the school’s 300-plus pupils.
Mr O’Donovan’s and Mr Falvey’s contribution of 14 personal computers, 10 tablets, and four laptops has opened up new areas of learning for all the pupils and will allow the primary school to implement its digital learning plan in full.
Mr O’Donovan, who is a well-known volunteer in Cork, also supplied the school with a new sanitiser, which allows the tablets to be moved between classes on an hourly basis.
Scoil Padre Pio’s first computer room was officially opened by Micheál Martin, the then education minister, on January 31, 2000. The onset of Covid-19 has accelerated the importance of IT in teaching and learning.
During the lockdown, the pupils were able to stay connected to their school because of the tablets provided by Mr O’Donovan and Mr Falvey.
The home-school community co-ordinator spent hours connecting the children and also helping parents with any IT issues.
During the first lockdown, children completed 100 hours of English and 200 hours of maths, and they answered 40,000 questions online.
For the second lockdown, all children were registered on Raz-Kids, an award-winning teaching product that provides comprehensive, levelled reading resources for students, with hundreds of eBooks offered at 29 levels of reading difficulty.
The students accessed their levelled text through an interactive learning portal designed to keep them engaged. Once a child has read 10 or more of the levelled eBooks and passed each of the corresponding eQuizzes, they advance to the next reading level, where they have access to lengthier and more difficult text. To date, the students have spent more than 1,300 hours working on the programme.
The Cork City national school was also given a 10-week pilot project from Maths Wizz, which uses artificial intelligence to build a personalised plan for each child. The virtual tutor in Maths Whizz works like a human by adapting lessons to suit each child. At this stage, the children take ownership of their learning material with weekly goals and rewards.
The progressive primary school has also set up a programme for children who may have suffered educational loss because of the lockdown. This programme is called Nessy and it helps pupils with reading and spelling. Nessy can be used right up to the end of primary school and into secondary.
The fourth programme the school is using is TTRS.ie touch typing, reading, and spelling. This resource tackles literacy difficulties as well as touch typing, which is an invaluable skill, especially so when commencing second-level education. The multi-sensory method, allied to the use of typing, can improve fine motor skills as well as literacy.
All four online programmes can be used in mainstream classes or with children with special educational needs.
Training and tuition are available for all parents who wish to support their children. The school also intends to present certificates of achievement, trophies, and prizes to children who make significant progress on these programmes.