The past week at Lalor Primary School saw all students from P-6 given the opportunity to participate in Lalor's Got Talent. It was an opportunity for students to show off their BEST talents, and an opportunity for a much needed break from the sometimes monotonous cycle of remote learning.
RUOK Day, which focuses on mental health and well-being, also fell in the same week as Lalor's Got Talent. So, it got me thinking, am I doing enough to support my students' mental health? Am I doing enough to stay connected?
I used my Webex online time to have discussions with students around emotional health and general well-being, and I ensured I spoke to students about their individual talents. I also made sure I provided a personalised comment on the Wabisabizen, for each student regarding their talent post.
This is what happened:
Here's a little background for you...
One of my students decided to post a video where he made pizza from scratch. He called himself Chef Andrea and his post was a hit with teachers and students alike.
During our meetings I praised him about how fantastic his cooking skills were and I encouraged him to make another video, this time making my personal favourite - gnocchi. So, he did and he personalised the video, mentioning that he was making the video because Mrs. E wants to make gnocchi!
Well of course I needed to reply and thank him for the instructional video.
AND of course I had to use Chef Andrea's instructions to actually make the gnocchi!
It's wonderful that I am able to maintain a special connection with my students despite not having face-to -face contact. Wabisabizen has been an invaluable tool that, combined with online meetings, has facilitated engagement and enabled me to maintain connection with my students during remote learning.
Year 1/2 students have been inquiring about amazing Australia. They have discovered lots of information about special places and animals that are unique to our amazing country.
Whilst working remotely teachers in 1/2 have encouraged flipped learning by filming skill lessons, games & activities and communicating to students that these resources can and should to be accessed prior to online meetings. This has been particularly helpful in Numeracy to support the visual nature of the concepts taught and to encourage Multiple Exposures to learning material. The examples below are some prepared by our teachers and used in Term 3, 2020.
Through respectful discussions with fellow colleagues and Leadership we have structured an online learning program aimed to maximise learning whilst being mindful of emotional and mental well-being.
A manageable system, alternating between whole week Literacy and whole week Mathematics programs respectively. This we predicted has allowed students to work at their own pace and through multiple exposure master the skill at hand.
To make this dream a reality we have incorporated the following structures into our program:
Parent feedback at our three way conferences were very positive with many finding that the reduced workload did not jeopardise learning & created a much more manageable system. The following features in particular were highlighted:
1: Clear communication of expectations utilising the conversations function on our Learning platform - Wabisabi.
2: Making the Learning Intention clear and incorporating Blooms Taxonomy throughout.
3: Sequenced Learning - Available to the students at all times online. The instructions/examples filmed & expected to be completed at their own pace throughout the week as exercises, not for posting on Wabisabi as a formal assessment.
4: Only one ‘task’ posted per week demonstrates, using Blooms levels of learning, where students honestly are on their journey. This will be the only task assessed formally and with confidence because it is a true reflection of the skills exercised (or not!) during the week.
This system has given us more of an opportunity to address common questions and delve deeper into thinking processes. Early results indicate students are more engaged and active in their learning as opposed to just being a bystander. It has reduced student workload, teacher workload & is easier for parents to follow. One piece of work of a much higher quality, submitted and assessed per week is much more valuable than multiple daily uploads, not reflective of student understanding.
This program, designed for these unique circumstances, modified for the right reasons, reduced the pressure of remote learning and increased the quality of our program. A big achievement in such a short amount of time and in trying circumstances.
If you have an questions please feel free to contact me:
Dwain Barakat (Leading Teacher - Mathematics & 1/2 Coordinator)
Year 1/2 students learnt about the Little Penguins of Victoria. They discovered fun facts about penguins and were able to experience a virtual Philip Island Penguin Parade.
Using Solution Fluency to Reflect on Remote Learning
The challenge we faced was how to provide students with easy to understand and supportive instructions, for independent reference, during remote learning tasks – to promote engagement in learning.
Since Lalor Primary School is from a community with high numbers of English as and Additional Language families, there was a need to ensure instructions for learning activities were able to be understood by individuals with limited English literacy skills. We were concerned about the number of students who were not submitting learning activities to their Wabisabizen portfolios and needed to rectify this problem.
The 1/2 teaching team were in constant communication with each other regarding the issue of engagement in learning. We were able to take what we had learnt through remote learning #1 and adjust our teaching and learning practice to work for remote learning #2. This included taking on information from the Wabisabi learning community about synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning. The families also provided verbal feedback about what they felt worked best for them – this included clear and simple instructions.
I envisioned successful asynchronous teaching and learning as a solution. I wanted students and their families to be able to open up the Wabisabizen learning activities and know how to complete tasks. I didn’t want the students and their families to feel overwhelmed with a feeling of the inability to tackle the tasks because of a lack of English literacy skills.
The steps used to support asynchronous teaching and learning included:
Students learnt about health and were provided with 5 healthy food group posters and a YouTube video to watch. Their task was to design a healthy lunch box. The instructions for the task was recorded as an audio file and attached to the activity. A teacher example of work and alternative lunchbox design options were also provided.
Examples of student work:
Upon reflection, what my team and have achieved does begin to satisfy the original criteria. We have had significant increase in student understanding and engagement in learning activities. The audio, video, image and work example support has meant the quality of work has been at a higher standard. Over time we have moved from audio files to YouTube videos to provide instruction and this has impacted positively. I plan on using this method of asynchronous planning of teaching and learning when remote learning has ended and we are back in the classroom. It is a valuable resource that shouldn’t be shelved exclusively for remote instruction, therefore it will impact on my face-to-face teaching in the future.
What an amazing way to show appreciation! It was Principal's Day on Friday the 7th of August, 2020, so the 1/2 students surprised Mr Robinson and Mrs Parish with wonderful messages of thanks.
Hands on learning...
During remote learning, students were asked to make a fresh fruit salad to eat and enjoy. As well as creating a healthy snack, they were asked to describe their fruit salad using writing strategies such as onomatopoeia, the power of three and similes. What a fantastic and delicious hands on experience!
Students are given the opportunity to explore their interests, develop their creativity and learn through exploration.
We made a card and a gift to thank our families for helping us to learn from home.
At Lalor PS we work together to make learning fun! We will water and watch our super succulent plants GROW in our beautifully painted pots. Have a look at the 1/2's at work.