Sacred Heart Senior School, Dublin, Ireland

Sacred Heart Senior School was founded in 1977. The school is situated in Tallaght at the foot of the Dublin mountains and is approximately 12 km from the centre of Dublin city.
Currently there are 276 boys and girls aged 8 – 13 years attending the school in 13 classes from third to sixth. The school has a staff of 23 teachers, 7 full-time Special Needs Assistants (SNA) and 1 part-time Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts, a school secretary and caretaker.

Digital School of Distinction (DSoD) – Sacred Heart Senior School was the first school in Ireland to gain this award. The Digital Schools of Distinction aims to promote, recognise and encourage excellence in the use of technology in primary schools. This award is nationally recognised and accredited by the Department of Education and Skills.

Green Schools – Green-Schools is an environmental education programme operating in primary and secondary schools in Ireland. Green-Schools offers a way for schools to take environmental topics from the curriculum (e.g. Litter and Waste, Energy, Water and Travel) and include them in the every day running of the school. Schools who are successful in managing one of these themes can apply for their Green School Flag Award. Sacred Heart Senior School have been successful in being awarded Green School Flags for Litter and Waste and Energy. The school has a Green School Committee (2 pupil representatives elected from each class) who assist with the school’s efforts with recycling waste (paper, packaging and food) and saving energy.

People involved in the project

Gerry Diver Project Coordinator and HSCL (Home School Community Liaison) Teacher.

Robert O’Leary Principal.

John O’Mahony Deputy Principal.

Main activities

  • First Transnational Meeting Dublin: Sacred Heart Senior School co-hosted the first transnational project meeting in Dublin from 23rd September to 27th September 2015 with St. Marks Senior School. A Welcome Ceremony took place in our School Hall at 9.30 a.m. on the morning of 24th September 2015. This was an opportunity for all our pupils and teachers to welcome our project participants from schools and universities in Ireland, Denmark, Italy and Finland to our school. All teachers and classes participated in the Welcome Ceremony. Classroom visits followed after the tea/coffee break for the rest of the day. This provided our pupils an opportunity to showcase the way we use ICT for teaching and learning. Our teachers received positive feedback and affirmation of their work, communications and relationships with their pupils from the visiting teachers from Ireland and overseas.
  • Internet Safety Week: All classes in the school participated in Internet Safety Week with teachers teaching at least one lesson as part of the SPHE curriculum. Third and Fourth class used Lessons 6, 7 and 8 of the Webwise Primary School Programme to focus on the skills required for communicating effectively, responsibly and safely online. Fifth and Sixth class used Webwise – My Selfie and the Wider World. Lessons focused on responsible photo sharing in an online world, effects of cyberbullying and how to respond to issues of cyberbullying. Pupils in all classes designed their own Internet Safety Posters for the monthly competition.
  • Christmas Cards Exchange: A number of classes created Christmas cards to send the nine other schools participating in this project. Pupils and teachers enjoyed receiving cards from the other schools in Ireland, Denmark,Finland and Italy..
  • Difi Mascot Project: Difi has proved very popular with all classes in the school. Individual children have brought Difi to birthday parties, Confirmation and First Holy Communion celebrations, shopping trips, holidays both in Ireland and abroad, all kinds of sporting activities, Irish dancing competitions both in Ireland and even abroad. When pupils return to school with Difi they write up a report on the event and include a picture or two.
    Classes going on trips have also taken Difi with them. Difi has visited St. Maelruan’s Church and The Priory in Tallaght village with fifth class and Glendalough in Co. Wicklow with sixth class.
    When a class returns to the school, the pupils created a digital story on Powerpoint using the photos taken on the trip, adding text and narration, before the project was exported to video for upload to the web.
  • International Cookery Book: Pupils and teachers in our school enjoy cookery classes in the kitchen. We have completed a number of cookery projects for the International Cookery Book – How to Make Granola, Halloween Fairy Cakes and Ginger Bread Men for Christmas.
  • Friendship Week: Fifth class created some anti bullying posters and a video to remind pupils that bullying hurts others and that they should always be kind to each other.

Benefits of this Project for Sacred Heart School

What do our Teachers think

  • Third class: Two of the teachers currently deployed in third class participated in the Killarney mobility and the workshop on Book Creator facilitated by Keith Young – NUIM. Teachers have instructed children in using Book Creator across the grade (3rd class).The children have used book creator to record their own experiences including field trips. They used photographs, text and voice recordings in order to create a variety of interesting and attractive digital books. This was a new and innovative way for children in third class to utilize iPads, record trips, explore features of the Book Creator app and apply them in a variety of ways.The project mascot has been used in conjunction with Book Creator. It has also been used by individual children and groups to assist with recount writing, narrative writing and drama.Third class teachers benefitted from attending mobilities to partner schools, thus observing good practice.
  • Fourth Class: 4th class teachers found that the first transnational visit to our school was very successful. The whole school felt a sense of pride and it was a great opportunity to come together to display the children’s talents.
    The classroom visits gave us a chance to talk to the teachers from the different countries and discuss the issues that arise in schools across Europe eg. discipline, teaching grammar, resources, class sizes etc.
    The project, especially DIFI and sending Christmas Cards etc, helps teachers to keep the children motivated and engaged. They feel like they are part of the project and love to show children in other places their experiences.
  • Fifth Class: In the run up to Christmas 2016, the fifth class teachers as a group discussed 10 ways in which we as Irish people celebrate Christmas under the following headings: Advent, The Nativity, Visiting Father Christmas, Cooking gingerbread biscuits, Shopping for gifts, Ice-skating, Visiting family, Wrapping gifts, Decorating the Christmas tree, Carol singing.
    Each one of the four classes picked 2-3 topics to cover. The children had an opportunity to use digital cameras, iPads, Powerpoint, voice over recording devices and Microsoft Word.This project has had a positive impact upon the students in 5th class as it has allowed many students who struggle with literacy, to contribute positively to the class and their learning. Difi took part in all aspects of this project. Difi has acted as an aid to foster a sense of confidence in our students. They feel that they have a task to complete, when they take Difi with them.Digital cameras: The children brought the digital cameras home with them when they were visiting Father Christmas, family or shopping for gifts. They used the cameras themselves and had the opportunity to pick their favourite photos of themselves and then use the photo as a prompt for a recount writing task.Advent: We used Difi as an aid to photograph what an advent calendar is. Each day the children would photograph themselves with Difi at the calendar. This had an impact on the children as they gained in confidence when using the camera.
    The Nativity: We used Difi as an aid to photograph what a nativity scene is. The children photographed themselves with Difi at the nativity. This had an impact on the children as they gained in confidence when using the camera and used the photograph in a Powerpoint presentation.
    Visiting Father Christmas: The children had a chance to take Difi along to a visit to father Christmas. On the trip they could photographed themselves with Difi in an environment that was outside of the school. This gave many of the children a chance to engage with others and explain what Difi was and why he was there. The photos were then used for a Microsoft word recount and a Powerpoint presentation.
    Cooking: The children had a chance to cook with Difi and compile a recipe book using an app called Book Creator on the school iPad. We photographed Difi and the class cooking. From there we added these photographs to Book Creator and we made a recipe book and sent it to other schools involved in the project.
    In conclusion, this project has had many positive impacts on the 5th class group. We have developed our ICT skills along with our literacy skills.
  • Sixth Class: As part of ADJIE (A Digital Journey in Europe) project several staff members of 6th class went on trips to Denmark, Italy and Ireland. All members of the team felt that these visits provided an invaluable platform for professional development. They allowed us to engage with and observe our peers in the project, school visits being a key element in facilitating this. Through the visits we were able to see how other schools utilize the ICT available to them and reflect on our own pedagogy in our daily lessons. The project allows for cross curricular and inter school group learning opportunities which is one of its main advantages. Here are some of the other elements of the project that we feel are beneficial; e-twinning, apps e.g. Book Creator, raising awareness of e-saftey, geographical links, children having a sense of place. Not only this, but it is rewarding as a teacher to showcase the learning that our pupils partake in. It is rewarding for a student to be able to speak proficiently in front of a teacher from another school about how we use ICT in our lessons.

What do our Pupils think

  • Visit to the School – First Transnational Meeting pupils enjoyed meeting the visiting teachers from the different schools in Ireland and from the other countries. Pupils enjoyed showing the visiting teachers our technology, having them watching us and receiving their positive comments made us feel proud.
  • ePals pupils enjoyed learning Italian from their partner class and also teaching them some Irish when taking part in a video conference (Skype).
  • Postcards pupils enjoyed learning about the lives of pupils in the other schools and countries – i.e. where they live, family interests, pets etc.
  • Demonstrating use of the interactive whiteboards we felt proud of what we could do and had lots of fun with the visiting teachers.
  • Artwork pupils enjoyed sending and receiving Artwork from classes and schools in the other countries.

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