With Melbourne schools looking likely to head back into lockdown I thought I would share our reflections of remote learning.
To give some context we are a 7 to 12. school with over 1100 students.
Our plan for remote learning was:
- All our students have a netbook so we could provide an online curriculum knowing all students could access it.
- All staff put all the work students need to complete on our Learning Management System. We use Moodle. Posting all learning activities online was an expectation before remote learning.
- For years 7 to 10 our plan was ⅓ face to face teaching by Webex video conference, ⅓ tutorial where the teacher was online to answer questions live, and ⅓ independent practice provided by staff and completed by students.
- VCE(Year 11 and 12) staff were encouraged to do 2 out of 3 lessons face to face via video conference.
Here are the results of a survey of students after 4 weeks of online learning.
We surveyed staff following remote learning to try and capture their thoughts on what we did. Fifty-Seven staff responded to the survey.
What online learning tools did you use during the remote learning period?
|Other programs you used (please specify)||21.05%||12|
|E Chalk Resources||3.51%||2|
We use the Google suite extensively and Moodle so you would expect high use of these tools. Some staff used Zoom and Teams as alternatives to Webex and Moodle.
Did we get the mix of 1/3 face to face, 1/3 tutorial and 1/3 independent learning right?
|Other (please specify)||32.14%||18|
|· I don’t think it worked for some of the younger years who then had to learn content on their own. But it did work for some subjects and year levels.|
|· For the most part, though I increased it for my 10s and had two face-face and one independent to help them manage better.|
|· I often did more than 1/3 face to face as I have year 7 languages and would find myself offering extra classes for every other subject too to keep students going.|
|· Yes, I thought it was great, but I was instructed to set work for every session which put a lot of pressure on my year 7s and their parents. I thought it was unnecessary to give them so much work, but I am proud of the students who gave it a go.|
|· I made two of my Year 8 Science classes compulsory- the first one each week was teaching, the second independent learning and the third a compulsory check-in so that I could talk discuss instructions again, address general questions and talk to individuals about how they were going.|
|· I think the mix was okay but the language of ‘optional’ was a very bad choice.|
|· This worked well for a minority of kids, but giving optional or independent classes seemed to undermine the importance of turning up at all for a lot of kids.|
|· I am not sure about the 3rd breakdown. I think it was a good starting point, something to be reviewed for the future. However I insisted my VCEs were online and touching base every single lesson as I am fully aware of the fact that things can run away/students lose interest/students feel out of place if there is no solid, regular link in.|
|· Sort of. For yr 10 eng it wasn’t working, so I made the 1st and 3rd lessons of the week compulsory and with two online classes plus the independent/tutorial session it worked much better.|
|· It was good in terms of staff workload but we should have gone for 2 face to face and one tutorial for 10 to 12 classes right from the start. Should also have taken a roll in the tutorials and made attendance compulsory at the start.|
|· Should be all face to face. It helps keep students on track. Keep the option of finishing the teaching part early, but leaving WebEx running for the whole time to provide further support for those who need it..|
|· I insisted on two classes out of three for my yr 10’s as we had so much to learn and I wanted to keep in touch with them, ok for the junior levels, but going online for 2-3 students seemed a waste of time|
|· I teach practical subjects. It was not helpful to tell teachers we can see our classes every lesson if we want, but PUBLISH to the students that the first lesson would be compulsory, the last optional and the middle non-existent. Not helpful at all.|
|· I think it would have been good to require 2 face to face classes and one independent day- just for engagement reasons|
|· For the teaching staff yes as this made the balance between teaching online, developing new things, teachers that had kids at home could find a balance etc BUT for the students this was not enough and they really needed 2 classes face to face and 1 independent.|
|· Probably, I think we could have had two compulsory lessons and one tutorial, however realistically I was also teaching and looking after my kids which made the time logistics difficult.|
|· We did, kids probably didn’t. I was online in webex for all 3 lessons in case kids needed help or for the social side of things and found that if kids missed our “compulsory lesson” they didnâ€™t bothered jumping into the other 2 sessions but would then complain about missing a week or work and didn’t know about a task|
|· I think the tutorial sessions should’ve been compulsory for the students that were behind on their tasks. Although I kept telling them to be in our tutorial sessions, very rarely would they show up because they classify it as optional.|
What were the most successful teaching techniques you used during remote learning? (Your “goto” in the next pandemic.)
· Emailing prior to on-line class- learning intent, class topics, activities, due dates and reminders to students and parents
· I used a powerpoint presentation that the students could refer to in their own time after the class and google docs to see what they were doing.
· Cold calling got kids engaged, ARCC awards to encourage engagement and asking for answers in the chat. Power-Points so they weren’t just looking /listening to me and screencastifies and recordings so they could look at the lesson again, pause, rewind, stop etc . Good for those experiencing technical difficulties during the live lesson.
· I think my weekly outlines helped make it easy for me and for students to know what was happening in our classes for that week.
· The weekly overview of work – gave students something to go back to.
Preparing PowerPoints that gave all the required information/notes – but there better not be a next time… remote learning/teaching SUCKS
· Using the same process that I used in a physical class starting the class with a recap/hook (fun quiz challenge)
· Give them time during the lesson to actually complete the task. Being realistic on the amount of work expected.
· Peardeck. Also talk for 20 minutes, let kids do the activities, only stay if you need to. Not sure why but task submission was great.
· Powerpoints and help lessons
· Having weaker students join me online for the tutorial session so we could work in a small group.
· having scheduled one on one meetings with year 12 students via Webex. Quizlet for year 7. Practical tasks that are pitched to them being at home E.g. creating costumes for character using items from home, Movie reviews of films on clickview for homework etc.
· Check in polls/emails, explicit step by step instructions, making them write their answers to my questions in the chat box.
· Keep high expectations and use Onenote so that i could see exactly what the student was struggling with ‘LIVE’ and be able to help them by providing direct individual feedback on their work.
· Nearpod- PPT slides with a mix of activities in between to check learning.
· whiteboard.fi for interactive work and I could monitor student engagement
· The section on Moodle called: Weekly Activities. Everything hyperlinked.
The quick multiple choice poll at the start of each week to recap the expected content knowledge from the week before.
· Catching up with kids one on one who needed extra help, I was able to give them my full attention in the help session.
· Pear deck. Short and sweet lessons for juniors. Lots of differentiation.
· Clickview- Interactive videos
· Setting out the whole week’s work in one page on Moodle then doing engaging face to face and pastoral care stuff in the live lesson
· Being the personable person. Keeping things short n sweet. Making the lessons engaging
· Making a powerpoint which kids could go back to in order to find all of the instructions and resources in one place.
· Moodle Quiz and Google Docs
· Creating step by step lessons each week for students to view in a “Weekly Activites” section on Moodle. All instructions, links, learning can be found in one place.
· I always started with a review of Moodle tasks and discussed this openly with the students. That sort of seemed to help them stay focussed on what had to be done.
· Use of prezi with embedded videos as well as structured Moodle pages showing the breakdown of work each week
· Be organised. Put all work on moodle before the lesson. Kids came in already knowing what to do so I was just clarifying. There was a table in the notices of my moodle course with the details of each lesson with self directed learning exercises.
· Not sure, but I think the organisation was helpful for the kids and ensuring that their courses were laid out clearly.
Moodle workshop was good for a video task. Lots of small self contained activities worked best.
· Lecture slides introduction plus Kahoot for new content, peardeck in revision lesson
· Google slides worked well.
· Having PowerPoints ready to go
· I recorded several tutorial examples (in particular for maths) illustrating how to solve problems whilst explaining what I was doing.
· Mixture of learning activities.
· Using Moodle effectively
· Peardeck presentations were my favorite as they allowed for interaction and responses whilst delivering content that I could talk to and get answers-almost like a live classroom
· Nearpod and the collaboration page
· PearDeck. I can see who’s actually following along.
· I actually liked this mode of teaching. I went old school and made mostly PPTs embedded with lots of vocab games and videos and content that could be revisited by students after the class. I emailed the week’s lessons and tasks home after every compulsory class to both students and parents so they were kept in the loop regardless if they came to class or not.
· Nearpod and Gimkit- Neaprpod as it was great for giving information and doing formative assessment as well as getting a report on engagement. Gimkit- the students love it and it is a good way to play: practice vocabulary.
· Nearpod, Nearpod, Nearpod
· Screen castify to explicitly teach and demonstrate how to answer questions or approach a task – this also could be shared with the whole team to share the load.
· Organisation – setting up the weeks activities so kids could see what they were required to do in the week and plan.
Routines – I am regimental so I used PPT as a lesson guide for every lesson, with all instructions, notes, videos and questions all stepped out in the slides.
Engagement – The kids look underwhelmed most lessons when they logged on, so we always had a song quiz unrelated to the concepts we were learning.
Positivity – I gave ARCC awards for just about anything, webcam on, turning up, contributing to the chat, answering the discussion questions, staying behnd to clarify after the instruction was over, etc
· Setting my lessons up in PearDeck so the kids completed the tasks as we were learning them. At the end of the lesson I was able to access their work and correct it. This saved having to wait for them to complete it in their own time, save it then upload it to Moodle, a lot more efficient.
· Tasks performed in the session, not assigned as homework.
· Pear deck
Nearpod – although only developed basic skills recently but find it really valuable
Annotation on WebEx
· Google docs for fast feedback without having to download and reupload
· Using Stile to differentiate the learning for students.
· The riddles I opened my lessons with and my do now activities that always linked back to last weeks work.
· Being very specific as to what tasks needed to be done each lesson as the juniors needed that very clear instruction.Also be available for kids to WebEx when they were in need of help even if it was an offline class.
· Having my Moodle course set out very clearly. Each lesson was labelled and dated so that students knew what they needed to complete.
· Self-marking quizzes!
Staff began to gravitate to tools like Peardeck and Nearpod as they make it possible to track student progress in real time. We found it difficult to engage students in online lessons. Here is my attempt to encourage them to participate.
What were the barriers to kids learning from home?
· Background distractions including younger siblings or near by adults; IT issues
· Motivating themselves to get out of bed because parents had gone to work.
Parents who didn’t know how to have expectations for their children. Student’s wifi connection. Students lack of ability to self direct and organise themselves.
· Siblings, noise and interruption, motivation for self-paced lesson, not being able to ask for help in the moment.
· Some students had internet troubles which couldn’t be avoided. Some students lacked motivation and when they weren’t prepared to take on advice or tips from teachers they couldn’t get motivated to do any work.
· They didn’t have the regular supervision that many need to keep them on track and working during a lesson. There wasn’t the opportunity to work 1-on-1 with students, and following up with students was extremely difficult.
· Not logging on for various reasons and for PE not able to participate in regular physical activity classes.
· Self motivation and lack of help seeking behaviours.
· Their bed, lack of motivation, irregular check-in’s, parent’s not monitoring, not starting to complete tasks straight away and having them buid up.
· Working spaces and distractions from other things at home
· Inconsistent attendance, internet dropping out, added responsibilities such as child minding younger siblings while parents were at work. Students working extra hours at work during school time. Usual distractions of home, siblings, playing video games etc
· So many people in their space distracting them, other distractions of all their stuff around/tv/phones etc., not able to access direct help when they need it, lack of organisational skills, lack of resilience, etc.
· Not logging into the online sessions. Student motivation/laziness rather than no Internet available.
· Motivation, distractions, lack of time management
· Students not knowing how to take responsibility for their own learning
· Motivation and parental followup
· Learning environment from home, custody arrangements, internet, no motivation.
· Engagement. Family circumstance. Distractions. Not having physical teacher support.
· They struggled because they couldn’t always get immediate feedback. Less incidental learning. Technology/connectivity, other home pressures, no end date to work towards, distractions with peers, not wanting to ask for help in front of their peers
· Other distractions- some responsible for younger siblings etc Very easy to avoid any teacher contact if desired. Netbook issues- no camera and/or mic at times. Early on internet access seemed an issue but improved
· Motivation, no-one in their face nagging
· Motivation. Organization. Distractions.
· Having no structure at home. Other children to care for or other expectations. Prioritizing part-time work. Poor internet or lack of a suitable learning space.
· Connection issues and always a couple would be late or logon at the end of the lesson. Students need to have an alarm to remind them to get onto webex
· Parents not enforcing learning, not understanding how to find information on Moodle/Sentral, or not responding to communication.
Kids lying about overdue work, not submitting at all or submitting random tasks to get their progress bars filled. My juniors have treated this as a holiday. Losing relationships with the disengaged kids that we can no longer reach because they have checked out.
· No internet, kids moving between homes, us taking time to find these things out, some parents freaking out at all the overdue tasks, lack of motivation and direct contact with the teachers which helps kids with mild to severe learning difficulties.
· Interaction/collaboration with peers
· Not having the bells to make sure they were running to a normal daily routine. Not having the teacher there to assist immediately
· Engagement. Home lives for some students are not the most beneficial learning environments.
· Access to appropriate learning environments, technology (not so much but for those it affected, it was a hassle), support at home. I think the biggest barrier for most of mine was the ability and/or willingness to communicate with me, accept help, or to be proactive in using the resources available.
· Self discipline. Lack of technical knowhow. Some just didn’t have the bandwidth to do the business.
· Motivation, Internet connection, Noise
· Parents, home setup, internet (although some were using that as an excuse), their organisation & motivational skills. I think that the same kids that are good at school, were the same. The slack ones were the same too.
· Being able to play games on different screens whilst online. Not having to have cameras on all of the time.
· Logging in late to sessions. Being embarrassed to talk in front of others.
· Motivation, Working independently, lack of socialising
· Not able to explain things to them enough. Used to the whiteboard as a learning platform. Relying on good computer skills from us both. Technical issues-sound, internet speed etc. Too easy to be distracted-much more fun things to do than school work. Students could not distinguish that they were at home yet still had to do school work. Not enough interaction with friends-becoming depressed, lack of motivation. Busy, noisy households.
· Family burdens preventing school work getting done. or being online-needing to help around house-younger siblings, chores, etc
Their internet. Their motivation. Distractions (and their inability to deprive themselves of what they want RIGHT NOW). The fact that attaining their VCE isn’t enough of a motivation to do what they signed on to do.. The struggle to separate school time from non-school time when everything’s at home. The struggle to see the difference between class work and homework and therefore bitch and complain about how there’s so much more work now. Their family members. Their lack of socialisation and the fact that, just as we can’t see how they’re going, they can’t see from us how they’re going and so often feel like they’re doing terribly.
· Internet issues. Lazy kids who refused to engage despite reaching out on a consistent basis. Broken netbooks.
· Their environment, as it was not always optimal learning space for some and some did not have much support from their family. Distractions from their family and also having to engage with family responsibilities as well as study.
· motivation and attitude, low literacy and understanding, not being able to support those with high learning needs, LOW ICT ability (couldnt sign into clickview, couldn’t navigate moodle etc)
· Distraction, Lack of Motivation, Optional attendance
· Connectivity, Motivation and Distractions
· Safe and conducive learning environment
Additional chores to complete whilst they are home
· Their family situations. Having to take care of other kids. Having to deal with a stressful environment at home.
· Distractions at home, leading to lack of motivation to do school work. Barely any peer interactions.
· Internet connection, distractions from family, lack of supervision…
· Internet connection, laziness, family situations etc.
· Internet issues, motivation
· Clearly step by step instructions about how to use all features of Webex or whatever app is used. Don’t assume all staff are IT sauvy.
· I think we transitioned quite well. However, I think it would be beneficial to teach students to be a bit more autonomous. This would help should we need to go remote again, but it would also benefit them during regular face to face learning too.
· Started having some more fun engaging challenges earlier on – did this for LG after week 4 and the students really enjoyed this.
· Have kids log on for short sessions every lesson, even if just to touch base or give instructions for that days lesson. A lot of students felt the classes without face to face contact were optional and didn’t check for work.
However, allowing students to create their own timetables and work on things when they were most productive and ready also could have been good.
· Have students at least check in to every single lesson. Take rolls for every class.
· I think year 7’s need to have a reduced program. I have a grade 6 child and the difference in workload expectations between primary school and secondary was startling. Primary schools obviously have a different structure but I think given that year 7s had less than a term to settle into secondary college our expectations of how much they could cope with was too high. I only teach my year 7 subject for 1 period a week, the students still didn’t have a sound grasp of how to use Moodle and so much of my class-time and email correspondence was devoted to how to get to the task, rather than the learning it self. At times the learning seemed like the secondary activity and not the focus of the class. I think if this were to happen again (and at the begining of the year) more explicit teaching of how to navigate Moodle needs to be a requirement. I know this is difficult as the requirements of the curriculum still needed to be maintained throughout the period.
· I’m sure there’s things but it all seems such a blur I genuinely can’t remember. More preparation time for the delivery of content now that we know how to use the systems.
· Maybe 2 face to face classes
· We need to do something about the kids who just never logged in. Not sure what though…
· Some kids will not get online, the work in some year levels was way too high. Less work, but more meaningful. Perhaps a whole collage approach to the maximum amount of learning task set per week so it is even across every subject.
· Sharing more positive stories about the things that worked for teachers across all KLDs would have been great. It certainly happened in Science but I would have liked to have known about what others were doing.
· We need to find a better way to support colleagues who are struggling.
· Identifying the kids that were going to ‘fail’ quicker and intervening.
· We will be better if we ever have to do it again. I think we did quite well. The thing I missed the most was being able to have class discussions. So difficult.
Getting students who do VET at DSC but attend other schools on line was really hard, mainly because of their systems. Marist students were impossible.
· More planning for differentiation and engagement using tools we have discovered (more PD about these in action). Hopefully more time to implement these rather than being in survival mode.
· I think everyone did the best they could under difficult circumstances. I think what needs to happen country-wide is that we devote a couple of days each year to “practice” our routines for online remote learning. More stay at home ‘rehearsal days could help us all. Webex is NOT a good application for video-ing, I am sorry. It is extremely poor for arts based/music subjects (shows you my bias) but it faded in and out constantly and made it tough for the kids as well as staff. This was a considerable source of frustration for everyone.
· Using the tutorial lesson better
· Less after school meetings, it was a lot to expect staff to be on the screen all day and then again after school
· We should have made students login to the optional tutorials every time so we could better monitor attendance and so staff could let the ones go who were up to date and work with the ones who were not. We were too soft on this. We should have made 10 to 12 teachers deliver 2 face to face session. The diligent ones did.
· Set clear instruction and less tasks every week
· No. DSC Rules!
· More support for kids that were struggling or pretending to. The progress reports for some kids had to be reduced & some kids just didn’t do anything.
· Much smaller tasks for junior students that they ‘must’ complete during the lesson.
· Problem solve ways to have students participate in sessions. At the end of sessions, have students evaluate how they participated (quick survey?). At the start of sessions, have students set goals for how they would like to participate to maximise their learning, though I haven’t though through what this goal setting would look like.
· More techniques to get those disengaged doing their work. Keep offering high levels of support to staff to ensure we are all doing ok. Easy to be forgotten when you could be struggling
· Ability for webex to have small group work.
Modifying assessment – reducing tasks – and focus on using task students can engage in at home. Not solely focused on computer tasks. This also caused much stress for students and once again exposed the fact that our task bar is part friend part foe. Friend in the sense it is a great organisational tool. Foe in the sense that must student just use it to see tasks turn green (never checking comment feedback) or give up because there are so many reds appearing on it.
Focus on core 4 and PE. As a parent that is all I was worried about.
No I think given the circumstances the whole situation was handled extremely well. If it were to happen again maybe not have all compulsory lessons the first and spread the compulsory lessons out throughout the week. Workload became an issue for many.
I think we did a great job given our constraints.
The PD offered in the last week of Term 1 was incredibly beneficial not only for staff to up skill, but for staff to share, collaborate in a time when there was much uncertainty.
In comparison to my own children’s school, we offered much support to our students both academically and emotionally. My children were sent a package of worksheets and a planner and were told to check Google classroom for any additional instructions. In effect, the teachers seemed to be off-duty once those packages were sent out.
The fact that we were able to at least chat with our students (without webcams) gave us the option of checking in with those students.
I feel we did brilliantly, speaking to colleagues from different schools, the work we accomplished was miles ahead of what most others were doing. A lot of the kids did drop away but this was a difficult time and we don’t always know what’s going on for them not to be engaged. We worked hard to make our classes engaging and for the most part, every student achieved something and that’s a win.
Personally, I would of divided students in half and had 2 separate sessions, with less kids and then 1 tutorial. Rather than have 20 kids online at once. 10 in each session would of been easier to get them engaged.
I think all year levels should have 2 compulsory lessons a week.
Can’t think of anything
More focus on core subjects
What would we do differently?
We are in the fortunate position of being a rual school so will be starting Term 3 as normal on Monday 13th of July.
If we were not, we’d largely keep in place what we did during remote learning 1.0.
We would make it compulsory for students to login to 2 out of their 3 lessons to better track engagement and attendance. Our staff are much better prepared with online learning tools that work.
Hopefully the pandemic does not escape from Melbourne and we remain teaching face to face with students onsite.
If we have to got to remote learning 2.0 we are ready.
Good luck to Melbourne schools if remote learning 2.0 becomes your reality. It is not easy.