The first five days have passed and we are still teaching. Congratulations! Whatever you have put in to place for your students is working and you should feel proud of that. During this time of remote learning we will all have different stories of success and of struggles.
This is my story.
A Familiar Start.
The story begins with a familiar start. Our existing homework approach set the scene for what we would call ‘Extended Learning’. Each half term we send home 12 suggestions and children collect stars as they complete tasks. We decided to use this framework but on a 10 day cycle because it is embedded and familiar for parents and pupils.
The Learning Journey.
In Reception we also use Tapestry to record anecdotes and significant moments during the weeks. We’ve only ever used this software internally to record practical work, quotes during discussions and reading assessment. Tapestry is a learning journey software specifically for Early Years Outcomes and the National Curriculum. The assessment statements from these frameworks are included in the app so that observations can be referenced and tracked against learning intentions.
Combining The Two.
We decided that these two familiar approaches for parents and staff could work together to bring school learning to the homes of our pupils. I invited all parents to join our Tapestry classroom and our Extended Learning menu gave them prompts as to what to share with us: photos, quotes of what children say and a description of the activity. We explained to parents that when we are available to post replies we would be able to send written comments and link their observations to the curriculum. Tapestry have also published lots of information for educators and parents on how to best use the software at home.
Bringing Learning to Life.
As good educators we know that good relationships are key to motivating children to learn. A helpful article from Tapestry explained how we could upload an observation, tag all children and share information with the whole class. This is the perfect way to share video with everyone!
I used Clips on Monday, the first day of remote learning, to share an update on the growth of my bean at school. It was simple to use video to quickly demonstrate how to draw and label a diagram of a bean with roots too. I saved the video and uploaded it to Tapestry. The rest of the week, parents played the video at home and shared their children’s diagrams with us.
Later in the week I filmed a movement and maths challenge in Clips and shared that:
Parents shared videos of the children planning and performing their repeated dance patterns. In our comments we gave suggestions that children should write down their 3 dance instructions too.
Learn how to use Clips here.
Screen Recording With Keynote.
Clips is great for very quickly sharing a visual activity, but for modelling a skill like writing and counting, I felt like I could’t give children the best view as the camera is always behind my hand. I set up Screen Recording on my iPad and used Keynote to write and record my voice.
To set up Screen Recording for iPad open Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > + Screen Recording. When you swipe down with one finger from the top right hand corner of your iPad you will open Control Centre and see the option to Screen Record. Press and hold the icon to see the option to enable the microphone whilst screen recording.
I opened Keynote and created a blank slide. Then I tapped + and Drawing. Now when I start Screen Recording with the microphone enabled I can write and sound talk. This was a perfect way to easily model how to write a list of ingredients needed to make a milkshake.
Screen Recording with Keynote in the Rehearse Slideshow mode was effective when modelling a number line game too. I added a picture of a number line to a slide then started the Record Slideshow mode. Here you are given a pointer so that as you touch the screen to count up and down the number line, your finger is tracked on screen.
Learn how to Screen Record on iPad and iPhone here.
Learn how to use Rehearse Slideshow in Keynote for iPad here.
Materials to read at home are going to be exhausted quickly, even though we sent home extra home readers when our school temporarily closed. There are plenty of reading schemes opening up their online libraries for parents to use for free. To keep these platforms easily accessible, Tapestry acts as a common ground for gathering resources and signposting parents to specific resources. To share new reading materials we are going to download the free comics from Phonics Play, upload these to Tapestry and tag children in them. This will help us to manage the frequency and flow of these resources being used as well.
This week I’ve learned a lot about what works with learning at home. The day at home is not like a day at school. Parents are not teachers, they are not home schooling. Parents are home learning and that takes places at different times of day. Observations start coming in from 7.00am until 10.00pm, so it is important to remember to only log in and monitor Tapestry during your school hours.
Next we need to set up a team timetable of who will post video content each morning. We are turning most of our Extended Learning suggestions in to a Clips video so that our young learners can better engage with this information and continue to feel a connection with their school by hearing our voices. It is important to reference the Extended Learning menu at the end of each video to make the link between the video and the learning we set.
Learning at home is also more intense than school. Children are getting a 1:1 or 1:Few ratio. This means learning can come in a shorter burst, and play is even more important at home!
Engagement in the first week has been positive but maintaining this if the weeks progress could be more challenging than the initial set up for remote learning. Right now, learning at home is novel. Will video, audio and resource sharing keep young children motivated to work from home in a longer term plan?
What will ring true for all of us over the coming weeks is that technology is enabling our environment to work, learn and stay connected.