Good afternoon Parents and Carers,
Welcome to a special "remote learning" edition of the newsletter. As someone said today, "well, that escalated quickly" but such is the changing landscape of our times. We are confident that with everybody's commitment to this snap lockdown, we will be back to normality within the expected 7 days. In the meantime, we want to start on the front foot by providing you with this outline of how we intend to provide home learning for the students of CCW over the next week.This is not our first time and the lessons we learnt last year will stand us in good stead for the next week.
This is the "nuts and bolts" that will attempt to not only clarify the Why, How, When and Who but also the What, What ifs and What abouts?. We won't answer everything because the situation continues to evolve but these are the agreed practices the staff committed to in 2020 and will do so again now. It deals with the planning, preparing, delivering and supporting Learning at Home. While none of us have a crystal ball, lets assume for now that we will continue to operate our school according to the processes in place in this newsletter until Friday next week when, all going well, we will be back to face to face learning.
As was the case in the full lockdown weeks of 2020, our school will remain open for those students who NEED to attend because parents are in essential work. There is little doubt that the staff's ability to prvodie quality remote learning that is accessible and supportive is because of the support parents provide with the supervision of that learning from home. This was supported well in 2020 and we look forward to that same collective support for the next week. If a student of an essential worker needs to attend, they will conduct the remote learning model here at school under supervision reflective of numbers. There will be no face to face teaching here at school.
We understand this is happening very quickly and we are hoping that by providing this information in a timely manner, we can prepare ourselves for the best learning journey ahead. We look forward to a return to our school community together again as soon as it is reasonably safe, practical and advisable to do so.
One of the things we would like to simply relaunch from last year's lockdown is the some clear and consistent understanding of what Learning at Home will look like for Corpus Christi students. This document will provide clarity in:
- How the Learning will be prepared, provided and delivered to students whilst they are Learning at Home
- When and where will learning will be provided to students and parents to access?
- What expectations are there for engaging in Learning at Home with reference to maintaining attendance records at school?
Whilst detailed, it is hope the attached document that we used successfully last year will answer all of the above questions and be a reference guide going forward, for as long as the current context prevails. It may be adapted as the lockdown goes on but for now it is the starting point.
PLEASE NOTE OUR REMOTE LEARNING TAB ON OUR WEBSITE WILL NOT BE UPDATED UNTIL 3PM TOMORROW, 6TH AUGUST.
The main way we provided remote learning in 2020 was via the learning packs (PDFs/ word documents) posted on a website platform attached to the school website. We made this video below in 2020 to unpack the web page for parents and students. While I do make references in the video to the Covid restrictions at the time, which will not ring true to the current 1 week lock-down, the basic information in the video remains the same. If you promise to disregard time references to 2020, I think this video may still be useful now. Mind you the text below explains the same thing.
- Look for the Tab - HOME LEARNING
- Pages are password protected for copyright reasons. The password is 2298
- Mark the web page as a favourite and pretty soon the students will access it themselves.
The Home Learning page itself allows you to navigate to every class' learning within the school as well as specialised learning activities in Music, Library and PE with a page for Wellbeing and a page for Technical Support.
Each class page or specialised teacher's page has the weeks learning schedule, a PDF of worksheets and links to to explicit teaching videos that our staff will develop each week in Literacy and Numeracy. These teaching videos might have instructions and demonstrations to the maths, guided reading, spelling or phonics for the week. Students can click on the videos as often as needed to consolidate the learning.
The learning for Week 5 Term 3 will be uploaded as soon as we can on Friday 5th August ready to launch with remote learning on Monday 9th August.
Please note, Friday 5th August learning is already provided in student's bags and via Teams for the older grades.
Much has been said about the balance between learning continuity and student well being during this extraordinary time. I am very much aware of the dilemma between the two and the ongoing battle each day to keep children occupied in meaningful pursuits for the benefit of their wellbeing. Admittedly, maintaining a learning agenda (even as little as 2 hours) can be demanding. However a day of "I'm bored", a day of not achieving anything to be proud of or a day glued to electronic gaming can also become problematic to a child's wellbeing (while gaming/electronics may not impact immediately, the long term impact is quite concerning). It's all about balance
For parent consideration, I would divide a day's potential learning engagement into three areas, each with a different priority level or weighting.
|FOCUS AREA||PRIORITY||TIME ALLOCATION||DETAILS|
|LITERACY AND NUMERACY||1 - ABSOLUTE ENGAGEMENT||1 - 2 hours depending on age of student.||It is essential that there is some level of learning continuity in these areas. Teachers will provide work that aligns with the learning Scope and Sequence that would otherwise be covered at school. Zoom or TEAMS conversations and Explicit teaching videos will support this. We thanks Families who will ensure need to ensure students are supported to complete it to the best of their ability.|
|INTEGRATED KLA||2 - PREFERRED ENGAGEMENT||1 - 2 hours depending on age of student.||
Teachers will continue to provide activities in these areas which include History, Science, PDHPE and Creative Arts. If students are able to remain engaged in learning at home for a longer period of time, these are the tasks to be completed. Teachers will discuss some of this with the students in the Zoom meetings.
STUDENT DIRECTED LEARNING/ ACTIVITY
|3 - ONGOING ENGAGEMENT||Up to 1 hour depending on age of student.||
Students who love to be engaged in an ongoing task of their own interest can work towards a project (research based, ICLT based, Creative based) of their own. This can be lego challenges, creative dioramas, backyard projects, building a bike track, sewing or anything that interests the students. The children can share this with their teacher by taking photos at different stages as well as the completed task.
PLAY AND TEAM BUILDING
|3 - ONGOING Engagement||As often as is possible||
Do not underestimate the power of learning through play. An hour in the sand pit , playing "house" or playing a board game can develop so many powerful moments of learning.
Also, don't underestimate the team building and communication skills that are embedded in completing a household chore together.
To Print or Not to Print?
This one is much debated in our school at the moment. Our younger students need access to paper copies by the very nature of their learning. However, as students progress through the grades, the need to have a worksheet for every lesson is lessened. In fact, setting work out from a board (or a screen) into a book is an important organisational skill and one that can be done with support as early as Year 2. I would encourage parents (of all but Kinder and Year 1) to consider resisting the urge to print up every page in the worksheet PDF at the start of the week. Instead. as the students cover that lesson, consider whether they could copy it from the screen to the page in front of them. Of course there will be some to print off , but then it is about 1 page instead of all of them. Students have been provided with an exercise book (mostly homework books) to copy work into. If you do not currently have one, you are welcome to contact the school to pick one up.
Of course we will always have some paper copies for parents to pick up from school. Even then, I would encourage older students to continue to practice copying some of the work into the exercise books so that they are continuing to develop the organisation and transfer skills this requires.
To Mark or not to Mark?
The first thing to note in this discussion is the difference between marking to see if students are engaging with the work (accountability) and marking to gain an understanding of student ability to complete the work (assessment).
The first is used to allow student to share the work with another person to demonstrate that they have engaged with and completed the task set. This can be done by any adult available in the Home learning environment (lots of stickers and praise). When they have done so, the adult ticks off that task on the Weekly Learning Schedule. If the child has particularly struggled with the lesson itself, we ask parents to make a note and email the teacher directly (if they are infants) or bring up the problem at the next Zoom meeting with their teacher (if they are primary).
Teachers are currently up skilling in the use of Microsoft Forms to formulate tasks that aim to assess student understanding of a concept that might be worked on over a week. The quiz based form will be emailed to students directly and they will complete this independently. Parents may also be emailed a request to support this by being aware that it is an assessment task and ensuring the work is that of the students. The teacher receives the data back automatically with their email being the identifier. At this stage this is a long term plan for home learning that we will begin to implement in the new term.
To help or not help?
Again, learning at home is about balance between children benefiting from support and building independence in the completion of a task on their own. In any given lesson,, a student in a classroom would be asked to complete work independent of an adult sitting right next to them. Don't be afraid to explain a task to a child and then give them some time to complete on their own (while you do what you need) and then touch base with them in about 10 minutes or so. This is most likely going to simulate the classroom level of support for most of our students with the only difference being the time frame before touching base being longer as students get older. The more we let students do it, struggle with it and solve it; the greater the learning will be. Mind you we don't leave them floundering in the deep end, which is where your support (and a teacher's in the classroom) to either continue to work at it or change tact becomes invaluable.
Some reflections from last year.
"I wanted to talk about the ongoing debate regarding continuity of learning, home- schooling and managing kids during these stressful times.
I am very mindful of both sides of the debate. One line of thought suggests that children do not miss out on continued learning (especially if this is for an extended period of time). As an educator, I of course subscribe to that. But as an educator I am also very mindful of the wellbeing of every child at this time. If they are stressed or anxious they are unlikely to learn anyway and a screaming match in the home learning space is certainly not desirable.
So what to do? We are working hard at providing parents access to learning that parallels the learning that would otherwise be in the classroom. However, we want to be clear that this is a provision that parents will need to balance their use of. It should not be completed at the risk of family relationships or student wellbeing. I would encourage parents to be mindful of a balanced approach as they seek to create a learning environment at home. Feel free to discern the work provided in that context BUT ask that a priority is given to Literacy and Numeracy. Again, I would counter an argument to let the children simply play with the advice that we will eventually return to normal (preferably sooner than later but it is hard to predict). The expectations for now need to prepare children for the expectations to come so we can't ignore them altogether and then expect otherwise of the students when things do return to normal. In other words we also need to be mindful of a smooth transition back into the classroom when the time comes.
On a practical note, I highly recommend the following
- Negotiate the day’s schedule together. See the school's schedule as a starting point and to set time goals.
- Try to designate an area for focused learning that is not blurred with play spaces (appreciate that it is not always possible)
- Be ready to adapt to anything.
- Aim for about 3 hours of focused learning (1 - 2 hours of focused literacy and numeracy minimum)a day. Celebrate it when you get there!
On a more philosophical note, I would like to suggest the following:
- For every period of focused learning, reward it. Create a reward chart that allows students to work toward something they really want – negotiate what this would be.
- For every period of directed learning (where you are assisting and instructing them), balance it with independent focus on a task (and reward them for doing so). Leave them for a period of time and do what you need to do.
- For every period of inside learning, balance it with an outside activity. Build the garden you were always going to do, fix the bike, create an obstacle course, have a campfire – and do it together. Don’t be afraid to hold a family cricket match or if you are particularly brave, build something. Be thankful, if you have an outdoor space to do this. Use the weather while it is warm enough to do so pleasantly.
- For every period of “still, silent” learning, balance it with physical activity and robust discussions, debates and even some singing or just dance.
- For any period of high stress and anxiety where you feel you are at a dead end, surrender. Give your family permission to step back from it all, cuddle, talk it through, cry, relax and rebuild.
- Remember connections are so important. Plan for deep connections with loved ones and friends. Yes, FaceTime, messenger, Skype and Zoom maybe all we have at this time but thankfully, we have them.
- Remember your story and share it with the kids. They love to hear about your time as a child. Look at old photos of you when young. When have we ever had time to do this?
- Allow students to remember and create their own story. Look at photos of when they were young. Let them see times other than these. Talk about times that will come. Allow them to dream.
- Don’t forget for everyone to have some alone time, including parents. Schedule it if you have to. Talk about wellbeing. Articulate the different ways you can focus on wellbeing as a family and individually.
There are important technical steps that we ask parents to support especially at the outset of this Home Learning journey. Attached to this article are some important instructions on how parents can connect and download the different access platforms for successful home learning.
Our first priority is for students (from Year 1 - 6) to be using their emails via the MN connect page (Optional for Kindergarten but Kinder teachers will still use parent emails). The use of student emails is a logistical decision as all students share an email structure that allows teachers to access and connect efficiently with the whole class.
Parent emails are varied and are often changing (due to sometimes stressful circumstances when letting the school know of the change is the least of your problems). The link to enable student emails at home is below.
Our second priority is installing Office 365 on home devices using the student school email sign in details (each student gets 5 installs per email). If nothing else, this is a significant cost saving if parents are setting up a device in the home. The link to enable this is below.
Our third priority (but perhaps the one with the most potential), is to download the Zoom app so that students can access ZOOM meetings with teachers and classmates as a regular contact with school while at home.
Please note that Stage 3 classes will conduct their face to face metings via the Teams Platform and they have worked on this skill in class this term. For all other classes, we will attempt a zoom call in the first instance and a phone call to follow up when needed.
We cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see the student's faces light up when they are connecting face to face online. It really makes our day as teachers as much as it does the kids. It truly is an invaluable resource during these crazy times.
Invitations are sent via the student emails (hence why we need them accessing their own emails - all except Kinder) but Zoom will need to be installed on the device. The link to enable this is below. The following instructions ensure you download and sign into zoom using the studnet's organisation emails. Please follow them directly. If you are using zoom with your own organisational emails, the students will need to access it via the following instructions.
Just like last year, this can be a scary time for some children and for others it is all too familiar and they cope and adapt with confidence. Either way, it could also be the time your children remember as the best time in their life, a time with family, a time of being together. We are the adults. We are faced with the most important job of all, even now when we are at our most stressed; making sure our kids still have their childhood at this time, the rest will follow as time goes on.
I pray and hope that this snap lockdown is successful but more so, I pray that we have the patience, resilience and understanding of each other and the situation as we negotiate this lockdown.
As mentioned in the introduction of this newsletter. We will continue to communicate with our families as the week progresses and will do so via COMPASS. The Newsletter that was scheduled for tomorrow will now be published sometime next week.
For now, we will maintain the Remote Learning model at CCW, both in the home and here at school when attendance is necessary for essential workers.
Be well and take care,
A Prayer during the Covid Pandemic.
In this challenging time Lord Jesus Christ, our true physician and healer, be merciful to us and bring us your aid in these troubled times. Heal all our sickness and every affliction of your people. Drive out our infirmities of soul and body; free us from all disease and especially from this pestilence.
We place in your gentle Heart the elderly, the frail, people with disability, children, young people and families, our indigenous peoples, those who are poor, lonely and isolated. As you walk with us, free them from fear, and give them patience and hope together with our loving care.
We place our trust in you, the risen Lord, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.