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Supporting teaching and learning across a Multi Academy Trust

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Cornerstone Multi Academy Trust in Devon (TCAT) uses Discovery Education Espresso to support teaching and learning across its four primary schools. Teachers and senior leaders explain how Espresso enriches their delivery, saves valuable time and brings learning to life for hundreds of children each day.

With a reputation for digital excellence, innovation is at the heart of teaching and learning in TCAT schools. Discovery Education is a trusted technology partner for the Trust, as Head of Education David James explains,

“When it comes to technology, we are very much a forward-thinking trust. We’ve used Discovery Education for many years and are very happy with the upgraded Espresso. The new platform looks brilliant and the smart interface really appeals to students.”

“From a senior leader’s point of view, one of the best things about upgraded Espresso is the ease of use. The integration with Microsoft Teams makes it easy to access and supports blended learning. For the children, everything is in one place, helping them to stay focused with no distractions or wasted time. For us this is key. It’s a seamless solution.”

The upgraded Espresso is delivered through Discovery Education Experience, a brand new platform which combines Espresso’s high-quality digital content with customisation, creation and collaboration tools. Year 4 teacher Dale Lawson says that the new platform makes it easier to access resources than ever before.

“The new platform is incredibly easy to use and the digital content is great. It has a very simple layout and I can find everything I need for a lesson quickly. The search function is excellent and you can search by subject and theme. If I’m looking for Augmented Reality resources, for example, it gives me lots of relevant content. It’s intuitive and it saves teachers time.”

Espresso’s high-quality learning resources are now grouped into resource collections called ‘Channels’, making it easier than ever to find content to enrich lessons. Teachers at TCAT particularly like the videos, as Dale Lawson explains,

“I use Espresso as a starting point and the videos are great for this. If we’re learning about full stops for example, I’ll begin by showing the children an Espresso video on the whiteboard. It’s a much more engaging and interactive way of learning.”

“The Espresso videos are great for introducing new topics”, says Year 2 teacher Deborah Hosford. “The visual explanations help children to learn. Recently we were looking at fractions and the Espresso videos really helped. Seeing the numbers on screen brought the concept to life.”

Espresso’s videos embed learning, as Year 5 teacher Abigail Fleming explains,

“I use the Espresso videos to teach grammar. Sometimes the children struggle with new concepts but watching a video alongside my explanation helps to deepen their understanding. We pause to ask questions and the children complete the activities to show what they’ve learned.”

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Checking pupils’ understanding is easy with Espresso, thanks to a series of built-in tools such as individual log-ins and subject quizzes. Teacher Dale Lawson says this helps him to see if children need extra support or challenge.

“Espresso has so many different resources to support learning and the built-in quizzes are a great way of evaluating all of that information to see if they’ve understood. We can check if a child has paid attention to a video, read a text or listened in class. The Espresso quizzes help us to consolidate learning effectively and revisit areas if we need to.”

The new platform includes a feature called Classrooms, which makes it easy to assign lessons individually and keep track of what pupils have done. This increased visibility makes it easier for Dale and his colleagues to measure pupil progress.

“Being able to see what the children have accessed is a real benefit. Today it’s almost a necessity in terms of tracking pupil progress, especially during remote learning. It is incredibly helpful to have this evidence, to see who has accessed what and for how long. There are lots of tools built into Espresso to give that insight. It’s great for supporting home learning.”

As well as being able to track pupil progress, upgraded Espresso helps teachers to differentiate learning, by assigning tasks according to ability. One of the benefits of this is that every child feels supported, as Year 2 teacher Deborah Hosford explains:

“Espresso helps us to differentiate learning within a single lesson. There are lots of activities for the different ability ranges. It’s really helpful to be able to assign these and navigate children to the right place. Because pupils work on their own screens, they aren’t necessarily aware of what other children are doing. The work is differentiated on their device, so I can be sure it’s at exactly the right level for them.”

Schools can also assess pupils understanding using Studio, a new flexible tool for teachers and pupils alike. Studio allows teachers to create lessons and presentations using Discovery Education resources or their own materials, while pupils can create boards to display their understanding. Deborah Hosford uses Studio to share and assign lessons to individual pupils.

“One of the things I really like about upgraded Espresso is the Studio tool. In Year 2 we are learning about habitats. There is a really nice Studio presentation called ‘Living, Dead or Never Alive’ which I assign to my higher ability pupils, enabling them to work independently and do their own research. I use Studio to create lessons for the rest of the class, using Espresso resources differentiated according to ability. There’s a lovely interactive sorting activity which the children all enjoy.”

Teachers can also add their own content in Studio, giving them a personalised resource hub. Studio saves time and provides much needed flexibility, as Dale Lawson explains,

“Studio is really flexible because you can add resources from elsewhere, though we have everything we need within Espresso. There are so many strong videos, pictures, text and different articles that we don’t really need to grab things from elsewhere.”

Having a single resource bank is also useful for pupils, says Year 5 teacher Abigail Fleming,

“The Studio boards are really good because they put everything in one place, so the children don’t need to go off and search for different things. Recently I used Studio in Science, teaching about irreversible and reversible reactions. I assigned the students a Studio board with a video, things to read and questions to answer. Studio helps to keep the children on task.”

While Espresso helps children to stay on task, it also inspires them to go further and extend their learning. Dale Lawson says that because Espresso contains so much exciting real world content, it encourages children to become independent learners.

“ We find that the children want to extend their learning by exploring Espresso on their own. It’s a safe place to search and if they see something in class that sparks their interest, they always want to go further.”

“Recently we used the Augmented Reality resources which the children absolutely loved. Some of our students downloaded the apps at home to show their parents. The immersive experiences in Espresso are really unusual and something that the children haven’t necessarily seen before. Our students are very much inspired by Espresso and you often see them sharing that experience with their families at home.”

Year 3 teacher Jack Allen also finds that his pupils want to go further, and are keen to log on to Espresso in their own time:

“A lot of children want to use the platform at home because it is so accessible and child-friendly. They don’t feel overwhelmed with information and it’s easy for them to find what they want. My students sometimes email me with a screenshot of what they’ve done, or bring it into school the next day, which is lovely.”

With a vast library of real-world content and resources, Espresso extends children’s learning. And at a time when trips and visits are restricted, it also brings the outside world into the classroom.

“We haven’t been able to take children on school trips in the usual way this year but Espresso has recreated that for us”, says Dale Lawson. “The digital resources enable us to take children out of the classroom into the past, to a different country and even into space. We can facilitate ‘school trips’ in a virtual way”

“Usually we have resources shipped in from museums but that hasn’t been possible recently. To have a central bank of digital resources which broaden our pupils horizons has been so helpful”, says Jack Allen.

Espresso’s content is constantly updated with new resources, helping teachers to keep pace with curriculum changes and world events. For Year 2 teacher Deborah Hosford, this is key.

“The Channels in Espresso are full of relevant information. New content is coming online all of the time so it’s easy to link learning to what’s happening in the wider world. We enjoy watching the weekly Newsbites service and doing the quizzes. It’s something the children really look forward to.”

“Espresso Newsbites is amazing”, agrees Jack Allen. “It gives children an awareness of what’s happening in the world around them, it’s child-friendly and the pace is just right. My class are very enthusiastic about watching the news and enjoy doing the quiz at the end. It’s a weekly thing and they love it!”

One year into using upgraded Espresso, TCAT’s teachers say that it provides a seamless solution, equipping them with the content, tools and resources to bring teaching and learning to life.

“We’ve used Discovery Education for some time and the upgraded Espresso is better than ever”, says Dale Lawson. “The addition of the Studio tool, being able to assign lessons and having your class built in so that you can individually set work for each student is really powerful. All of these new tools and functionality save time and make Discovery Education Espresso a really supportive, intuitive and helpful resource for today’s teachers.”

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