Cornerstone Multi Academy Trust in Devon (TCAT) uses the award-winning primary school learning platform Discovery Education Espresso to support teaching and learning across its four schools. Teachers and senior leaders explain how the recently upgraded Espresso enriches their delivery, saves valuable time and brings learning to life for hundreds of children each day.
A Seamless Solution
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 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.”
A New Experience
Discovery Education Espresso is delivered through 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 resources 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.”
Teacher Dale Lawson agrees, “In grammar, I often use Espresso resources as an independent activity for the children to complete in their own time. So if they are doing a piece of writing, part of the support that I will have in place is an Espresso video. If they are unsure about how to lay out speech marks for example, they can take time on their own to watch the video, then put that learning into practice.”
Tracking Pupil Progress
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 Espresso platform helps you to pull out if a pupil hasn’t engaged with something particularly well or hasn’t understood what they are supposed to be following. It enables you to target those children to try and support what they need.”
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.”
Creating Amazing Lessons
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 what they have learned. 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,
“The addition of the new Studio tool is brilliant. I can create different presentation boards and because my class is built into the platform, I can assign these boards individually and set work for each student.”
“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.”
Helping Children Go Further
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. 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.”
Taking Learning Beyond the Classroom
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.
Relevant and Current
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!”
Bringing Teaching and Learning to Life
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.”
Engaging All Students
Meanwhile, Head of Education David James says that Espresso’s contemporary interface is part of its universal appeal, making it easy for teachers to create engaging learning experiences for everyone.
“For us it is very important to give children access to real world technology from a young age. Even in Reception, we give our pupils access to Microsoft Office 365 so that by the time they leave us they are fully experienced in the whole suite. Teaching with Espresso is part of this. The new platform looks smart, it’s very appealing and has a modern interface that the children enjoy. It’s all about being in the real 21st century. That’s what the children are drawn to and for us as a Trust this is key.”
Discovery Education Espresso’s new features and enhancements support the creation of interactive learning experiences that spark curiosity, make classroom activities livelier and engaging, and provide the literacy and language supports that give every pupil the opportunity to have their “light bulb” moment.
Explore the reimagined Discovery Education learning platform at www.discoveryeducation.co.uk.