Changing to remote learning represents a big shift in practice for many teachers. Not only does it require a rapid increase in the application of technology skills, it will also bring with it significant changes to the relationship between teachers and students.
Some key ideas help us to navigate the change.
Communicating with students
The focus of communication is both academic and pastoral. We need to have platforms for introducing or explaining concepts and skills to students and providing task instructions. We also need to maintain our connections with them, to gauge how they are managing the challenging circumstances.
Seesaw in the Junior School and Canvas in the Senior School are the main communication platforms between teachers and students. These particularly act as the focal point for students to access learning resources and for daily Home Room check ins. Students may be directed to other online platforms from Seesaw or Canvas.
Asynchronous and Synchronous learning
It is not possible to sustain the same level of direct student-teacher interaction during remote learning as would be possible within regular classroom teaching. Some components of a learning sequence may be completed by students independently. This is known as asynchronouslearning. It may consist of students watching an instructional video and completing follow up tasks, completing online self-paced lessons or offline activities. Those learning experiences that involve direct interaction between the teacher and students or among small groups of students are referred to as synchronous learning. They involve students learning together. It may include a small group meeting through Zoom or students working remotely on a shared task.
Key factors in student motivation are active engagement in learning and connections with others. These are both impacted by the transition to remote learning.
As teachers become more comfortable and confident in delivering remote learning, they are exploring new options for engaging students in actively engaging with lesson content. For Senior School teachers and students, quizzes, assignments and discussions can be used to have students respond to lesson material. Seesaw similarly has a number of different options for students to respond to lessons through text, photos, images, voice, video and drawing. Many teachers are exploring how students may be provided with choice in the form of their response to tasks.
Synchronous learning experiences can be valuable opportunities for students to learn with and from each other. Careful lesson design is required to plan how students may use these times to engage in sharing and building on each other’s ideas and understanding. Using breakout rooms in Zoom has been one strategy that has been successful with those students with strong self-management skills.
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Daily classroom observations are a valuable source of information on student learning. Opportunities for gathering frequent insights into student learning and the capacity for timely feedback have been missed by many teachers during the transition to remote learning.
Strategies for active engagement in learning, such as the use of quizzes and assignments have been used by teachers to gather responses from students that help inform subsequent learning experiences. These may take the form of a quick check in at the start of a lesson or an ‘exit-ticket’ at the end of the lesson to help teachers gauge student understanding.
Self-assessment or peer-evaluation using success criteria may also be a way of students reflecting on their learning and identifying priorities for improvement.
Catering for varied student learning needs is a complex process, whether in the classroom or through remote learning. Those who experience learning difficulties may also find aspects of self-management such as planning and managing distractions to be more challenging than for other students.
Strategies to cater for student diversity learning include:
- Providing levelled tasks, with options of easier and more complex activities
- Specifying compulsory and optional activities
- Indicating the expected duration of a task, with guidelines for what to do if a task takes considerably longer
High ability students who complete compulsory experiences quickly may be encouraged to use remote learning as an opportunity to explore their own learning interests. The Useful Resources section of the student page provides many avenues for students to engage in self-directed learning in an area of interest or passion.
The following video provides examples of the above concepts from members of our College staff.