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Learning beyond the classroom

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Bonner Primary School uses Discovery Education Espresso in every year group. Year 6 teacher Sophia Atherton explains how the platform strengthens links between school and home and takes learning beyond the classroom.

We’ve used Discovery Education Espresso for over five years, and we renew our subscription annually because it’s such a valuable resource. It supports our teaching and benefits the children’s learning. Teachers use it across all subject areas from drama to geography, science to history and PE, plus English and Maths. It’s particularly good for topic-based learning. There are so many engaging videos to choose from.

One of the best things about Espresso is that it builds links between school and home. The fact that children can access it remotely is very helpful. They log in to continue work or begin new tasks. This is particularly good for strengthening learning or helping pupils to go deeper. It’s also great for parents who want to support their children but don’t know how.

We use Espresso to prepare our KS2 children for SATs tests. It has some very good SPAG resources which can help consolidate learning. Grammar lessons can be dull, but Espresso resources bring them to life! The videos help children to grasp grammatical concepts that can be difficult to explain. Recently I led a lesson about the Active and Passive Voice using Espresso resources. I started with an Espresso video to introduce the concept. By stopping and starting the clip it was easy to check for understanding. We then discussed a formula for turning the active voice into passive voice, before completing an activity and quiz which tied everything together. Espresso helped me to deliver the entire lesson.

Espresso is great for setting SATs-based homework. We ask the children to log in at home and practice the topic they’re currently working on. Espresso makes it easy for teachers to set homework. We don’t need to photocopy or look for different resources. It also helps us to involve parents with their children’s learning journey. In grammar, for example a parent might struggle to explain what a relative clause or a fronted adverbial is. Espresso’s videos provide simple explanations which really help.

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As a school we achieve good results for the SPAG element of SATs, and Espresso is part of the reason why. It helps us to fully prepare the children for their test. Last year we saw real progress from those children who had struggled with grammatical concepts. Having used Espresso for a whole year from September to May they all passed their grammar SATs with really good results. I think Espresso helps them because it is so very clear. The videos are clear, the instructions are clear, and the activities are always at exactly the right level. The children are having fun while learning. They just love it!

Part of the appeal of Espresso is the child-friendly content. The videos are very colourful and engaging, and we like the fact the children often feature in the clips, talking about their lives and experiences. In RE, for example, we often use the videos of children talking about different faith celebrations. This makes the content very relatable for our pupils and takes learning beyond the classroom. During Anti-Bullying week we used an Espresso video about online bullying. It helped the children to understand how they can protect themselves, and what it means to be a responsible and polite internet user.

One of the main ways in which Espresso brings the real world into the classroom is through its daily and weekly news service. Espresso NewsBites is brilliant. It’s a real highlight for the children and is both engaging and age-appropriate. It also has some excellent literacy resources. Recently I used Espresso NewsBites as part of a guided reading session about Brexit. Espresso helped me explain a highly complex subject to the children. After watching the video, we read the transcript together using the accompanying glossary to understand new words and terminology. This led to a rich discussion on a current affairs issue affecting their generation. The Espresso resources helped the children to grasp this and go deeper with their learning.

Whether at home or in the classroom, Espresso is very accessible and user friendly. It’s easy to log in and get started and you can find the right resources quickly. The service covers everything in the National Curriculum. It helps us to deliver what’s required and that’s why we use it so much. As teachers it makes our job easier, because all the resources are in one place. You can add it to your taskbar and it’s there, ready to go with one click. It’s one service, one button and everything is there for you.

In summary, Espresso is a brilliant resource for primary schools. It helps teachers and children to access a rich and full curriculum and adds layers of depth to learning, bringing the outside world in. Our teachers all say that they love it.

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