It has been wonderful watching students and teachers settle into their learning routines over the past two weeks. Online learning was not what anyone expected before the Chinese New Year break but the children have shown remarkable resilience in adapting to this unforeseen change. Three previous episodes of being online means that our teachers, students and community are experienced in navigating Seesaw and Teams to pursue their learning, but what does it take to keep lessons fresh and exciting and our learners engaged?
In designing online lessons, teachers need to consider a few core ideas to keep learning on track and interest levels high. Most important is maintaining the relationships and dynamic of the class. In school, teachers draw on the constant interaction with and between students to determine how lessons are planned for and delivered to create positive and meaningful learning experiences, but at the heart of peer and teacher relationships is wellbeing. Our children need to feel happy and confident to be secure learners and so keeping relationships going during school lockdowns is essential.
Shared greetings and news during morning registration and regular small group sessions help students keep in touch with each other. Our teachers are sensitive when more of this may be needed and also, if students need to talk to them about learning or anything else. This week, so that children in Key Stage 1 can feel in control of their learning, we have created additional time for them to ‘catch up’ with their class teacher and to share whatever questions they may have, show their Reading Rocket progress or share whatever other needs they may have.
Exploring what makes us feel well is essential during periods of online learning.
Helping children to feel well in themselves is also important. Our teachers continue to explore ways to enhance student wellbeing by teaching different calming strategies and as well as providing times for group relaxation with stories, yoga and meditation. Some of our younger learners in Reception have found holding teddies helps them both to say calm and focused during lessons and this played out beautifully during our pyjama and teddy day, with all DUCKS children eager to show classmates their favourite snuggly friend! Meanwhile, Key Stage 1 children have enjoyed a beautiful Rainbow Meditation and created their own rainbows to form part of larger train of Rainbows in compounds around town. A lovely reminder to keep calm when out and about.
- Teddies help our Eagles class keep calm and focused in their learning and they are lovely to cuddle up to at story time!
- Year 1 and 2 responded to the Rainbow Relaxation by creating a Rainbow Trail.
Balancing online learning with opportunities to move and be off screen is another big consideration for successful online lessons. Beyond giving little eyes a rest from screens is the very real need to move and be active while learning. Indeed, this often how we learn best. Movement breaks throughout lessons help keep brains focused but also, can be incorporated into the learning itself. Ms. Jiang’s Mandarin class had lots of fun demonstrating their knowledge of Mandarin numbers by imitating animals, quacking or barking according to the number they were given.
Online learning demands a certain creativity in what resources are used. Without access to our regular classroom tools, our teachers have had to be creative in thinking about what can easily be accessed at home to explore different concepts. Year 2 students had a lot of fun measuring toys and household items using first non-standard units such as Lego or beads before moving on to measuring with rulers. Similarly, music lessons have used chopsticks and water bottles to explore rhythm, showing that you don’t always need drums to tap out a great beat!
2C responded to measuring activities using their choice of non-standard units and then used centimetres to measure different objects.
Student choice in how new learning can be explored and demonstrated is vital to maximising engagement and focus. Whilst phonics, handwriting and mathematics drills are presented as closely to in school routines as possible, our students are able to demonstrate their learning in a variety of means in other lessons: videos, audio recordings, drawing or writing have all been used to show Inquiry learning in Key Stage 1. For example, Year 1 have had fun hunting down different household items while exploring the characteristics of different materials in their Inquiry lessons and showed them videos and drawings, while Year 2 used posters and recording to share their knowledge about endangered animals.
Audio recording and posters explaining the plight of endangered animals from Year 2
Year 1 present their discoveries about shiny and dull materials using videos, photos and audio recordings.
Online learning may be set to continue for a while but our teachers will continue to explore different ways to keep children interested. If you have any questions about your child’s learning or would like to share your child’s own, home learning please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.