- Distance Learning
Covid-19 and resulting school closures has required all COBIS Schools to embrace new challenges associated with remote and blended teaching and learning. The speed at which schools and teachers have honed, developed and adapted their skills in delivering remote and blended provision for students has been truly remarkable. There is an increasing wealth of expertise in this area which should be shared to benefit schools, teachers and students.
In this blog, five teachers who are professional learning partners at The British School of Brussels – a COBIS Training School – share some of their personal top tips on remote teaching and learning. Some of these tips are platform-specific, but provide ideas that can be adapted for various platforms and contexts.
Technology for Learning:
- Plan out your lesson on OneNote step by step so students can follow easily. Include all links to videos, webpages, etc. Scan in pages of textbook or worksheets. Inevitably someone will not have the textbook. If they lose Wi-Fi connection, they can independently follow the lesson.
- Give clear instructions of where students should upload completed work. Having each student create a Homework section in OneNote works best in my experience. They can upload photos of their work.
- Encourage the students to use the chat function as if it were a mini whiteboard. Instant AfL.
- Use the Audio tool to create a sound file – excellent for giving quick and easy feedback.
- Students can upload videos and sound files to their OneNote page, which is a great way of feeling connected. Especially good for subjects like languages, where speaking is a core skill.
- During the lesson, you can enter each student’s OneNote page to check how they are getting on, and/or offer support to those that may need it. Share their work (with permission) to give whole class feedback.
- Quizlet live and Kahoot, for example, are fun, low risk activities that can give a sense of class spirit.
- Staff and students need to know how their online platform (in our case Teams) works.
- Stylus is a necessity for teachers to mark and really useful for students to fill in grids etc. quickly and easily.
- Robust and familiar systems and devices are a huge help. Students need a touch screen and stylus.
- Use Ctrl+M to open another OneNote window – this means you can look ahead to the next part of the lesson without altering the window the students at home are looking at.
Teaching and Learning including Blended Learning:
- Think very carefully about instructions: keep them simple.
- Start with simple activities and then get more adventurous.
- Plan all lessons as if they will be hybrid, putting resources into the Class Notebook as standard. Then if students are joining from home, you don’t need to change anything. They join the call and join the lesson. If using other resources link from the notebook so they always have the same landing page at the beginning.
- Try to include a variety of interactive tasks (e.g. on Desmos or Mathspad), activities which can be on or off-screen (e.g. fill in a Venn diagram) and activities which do not need the screen (e.g. open problems or drill questions). Some will still opt to write on the screen for the latter.
- Use questionnaires e.g. through Microsoft forms to get feedback on student learning and be able to adapt teaching accordingly.
- Instant feedback on work through OneNote.
Ways of working to build community and enquiry, appreciation of environment, despite working from home:
- ArcGIS Story Maps – allows you to turn a map into a story or guide – great tool for English, Geography, History.
- Outside learning – Design an interactive 5 km walk around your community. Try to design your walk so it takes in the places that hold your community together and creates its identity.
- Outside Learning: Produce a poster or video to represent your neighbourhood’s sense of place.
- Photo collage of selfies to show how variable your local area is. Include: houses, empty roads, park, forest, freshwater, a fallen tree, frog spawn, life in water, life in trees, a symbiotic relationship in nature, street art, urban graffiti, something derelict, an empty shop, construction work, street furniture...
- Build a den; Walk a fallen tree; Identify and record three different types of lichen; Record a natural soundscape.
- Tutor groups – Complete Earth School Challenges and gain UN certificate.
- Book club with Seniors – give them a chapter to read and then the next online lesson discuss.
- Instagram accounts they could follow (Vox, national Geographic, Greenpeace), documentaries on Netflix (History 101, Rotten, Explained), competitions they could take part in.
- UN Climate Change Course on sustainable food and gain a certificate.
- Future Learn course to IB and A level students
- Global Social Leaders Competition – we were able to collaborate through Microsoft teams to make a video and report.
The British School of Brussels is a COBIS Training School. The tips above are from individual teachers and do not constitute an endorsement by COBIS of any products or platforms. A number of COBIS Supporting Associates provide tools which support remote teaching and learning. More details can be found in the Directory of Supporting Associates.