Monthly Archives: August 2020

Icebreakers used this week for Remote Learning

It is always good to make the students feel comfortable before they begin formal classwork with virtual icebreakers. I find this important even for my senior students. Here are some quick easy starts to the lessons that I tried this week:-

  • Playedmusic as students enter the virtual classroom Some ideas suggested by my Business Management PLN include Shannon Noll Shine and Bruce Springsteen Born to Run (suggested as being COVID applicable!) or give students the chance to suggest which songs could be played. We use MS Teams and it works well in there. Make sure that you when you share your screen you check the box to include system audio
  • Using the chat, get the students to tell you how they are feeling in an emoji, or what is the weather like where you are in an emoji.
    weather in an emoji
  • In the chat, upload an image showing the colour of the top that you are wearing (do not use text)
    what colour top are you wearing

Interactive activities, this week included:-

Show n Tell with year 7

Zara showed us the chickens that she hatched, shared their names and discussed how she looked after them. She also showed us the masks that she has been sewing.

Would You Rather with years 8-10?

We played the game of Would You Rather……? I shared some questions eg Would you rather swim in a pool of nutella or a pool of honey. Students replied in the chat, Then selected students would use audio to tell us why they chose their option.

They then had to think of three Would You Rather? questions, add them to a MS Form and embed the result as a post on their blogs. See my instructions.

I shall add links on my blog to each of their posts for all students in the class to answer. They will then look at the results and graphs that Forms shows in responses. This activity was highly engaging to the students and they were all keen to make their surveys in MS Forms.

Remote learning 2.0 – Week 1

year 8 indi cake

Indi shows her sister’s birthday cake (top middle)

We are now into the second week of Remote Learning, round 2. Having returned to school for 7 weeks with a 2 week winter holiday break it came as a shock to learn that country Victoria was to join its Melbourne counterparts in returning to teaching and learning from home.

One day was given to enable teachers and schools to prepare for this second round. We try and follow our normal timetable, but are constantly reminded to not expect too much work or homework from the middle years students and younger ones. Although parents were happy with the last remote learning (we use MS Teams), many stated that the students had little time for breaks and that they were on their computer screens too much. Our year 9/10 cohort were the most difficult to engage.

This morning, the whole year 9/10 ICT class were online, were interacting and appeared quite confident in coping with remote learning again. It was the first time, I have had them for remote learning as they were at school last Monday and had a student free day Tuesday so that teachers could prepare. They are the 2 days that I have them.

I tried to make the lesson as interactive as possible. It went like this:

  • shared an emoji in the chat to reflect on how they were feeling. (most were quite happy, a couple were sleepy)
  • added a msg in the chat re the weather (which ranged from foggy, cloudy to sunny) and to share what was the best part of their weekend. We are in lock down so they cannot leave their homes readily but most seemed to have filled it in ok.
  • talked about masks using the chat- what was hard about wearing them and what was good about wearing them.
  • played a kahoot on Australia. This is fairly bandwidth heavy so some of them could not access kahoot or got bumped out. However 13 of the 16 students stayed on to play

Year 8 – we did similar activities but instead of the Kahoot, we looked at their blog posts and surveys on Two Truths and a Lie. Students had used MS Forms to create the survey. Each student shared their screen, talked through the results and stated which one f the three statments was a lie. One of my shyest students used the microphone for the first time. See their Two Truths and a Lie. (Students enjoyed creating the Forms).



Sharing the masks that this student was sewing

Year 7 – again we followed similar introductory activities, but instead of the Kahoot, we looked at students blog posts that were written sharing their reflections on wearing masks and remote learning. One of the girls used her video camera to show the masks she has been making, and another showed her three chickens that she had hatched in an incubator. She was given the eggs for her birthday.


Three week old chickens

You can read some of their reflections on their blogs.

  1. Masks and Remote Learning Round 2 Cassie
  2. Masks and Remote Learning Aiden
  3. Masks and Remote Learning  Cody
  4. Masks and Remote Learning Round 2 Jamie
  5. Covid-19 News Lauren
  6. Covid-19 in Victoria Sahara

Remote Learning Round 2

Today, we start round 2 of remote learning. Victoria is going through a second wave for COVID19 and numbers testing positive is ranging from 400 to 600 new cases each day. 25% of people who have tested positive are going to work. So Melbourne has gone to stage 4 restrictions with a night curfew and only essential service businesses now open. In country Victoria where I live cases are few – in fact only 1 active case in my Moyne shire and 1 active case in Warrnambool where I go shopping.

VCE students were attending school throughout Victoria, for the first three weeks of term3. All other students in Melbourne were at home learning remotely. In country Victoria all students were still at school. However, that has now changed, and all students including all VCE students are back to learning from home.

Our city colleagues were given one week, student free, to prepare for remote learning at the beginning of this term but when the news came out that country Victoria would also be learning from home, country teachers were given one day to plan for remote learning as a student free day!

In the first round of remote learning, staff and students tended to be anxious, not knowing much about COVID-19 and what its impact might be but there was also some confidence as we were restricted in our travels and activities so that the spread might not be great. After 10 weeks, all students returned to school – week 7, term 2. Students were pleased to be back to see their friends and most reported that they preferred to have face to face classes.

The second time round, staff and students showed less optimism, less excitement about embracing a different learning journey, a lot of fear and doubt over what our future now holds. Our COVID-19 numbers are rising, there is a lot of community transmission, people are not obeying the law as they should and we are asking “what if this does not work?”. None of the other Australian states have shown such high figures. Any outbreaks have often been caused by Victorians travelling across the border, legally or illegally.

It was with far more despondent hearts that staff and students left the school at the close of Monday, with the possibility of an even bleaker future. We all tend to be weary.



Masks – the new normal!

This morning, I grabbed my laptop, laptop bag, lunch box and ………. a mask! As of today, in Victoria, we all have to wear masks when not at home. This is rather alien to our culture – as we love to socialize, interact, show our faces as part of our communication and not be hampered by any involunatary extras.

This had a big impact on me. I no longer see my gorgeous smiling students. I cannot gauge how they are feeling as their eyes do not tell me enough. All I see is a sea of masks covering their mouths and noses!

Only a few days notice was given to this announcement, but students and teachers have all turned up to school today with masks on. There are a few exemptions for those with health issues. The law is that we need a face covering but most have gone for masks.The masks are in all shapes, colours and sizes. Some are wearing a scarf to cover their mouth and nose. Only a few are wearing disposable masks

As a teacher, we are do not have to wear them whilst actually teaching in the classroom or when eating or drinking but we must wear them at all other times – in the corridor, at our desk and out in the yard!

Problems: we are not used to wearing them and the vast majority do not want to wear them, so:-

  • takes a bit of used to for breathing in them.
  • self consciousness for a start. Students dont want to look different and some were shy etc However, as everyone is wearing them, they became more adjusted as the day progressed.
  • anyone with glasses finds their glasses can fog up.
  • hearing students voices is really difficult as many of them mumble at the best of times. We all have to learn to articulate our speech and to project our voice
  • some have found that the elastic on their masks is not tight enough so they fall off (We had spares at the office for those students).
  • some found the elastic was too small so they could not put it around their ears. Therefore schools need to have a supply of spare disposable face masks.
  • The mask elastic straps need to go over my glasses, so that my glasses do not fall off.

Other queries include:

  • health issues
  • looking after the mask so it is effective
  • where to dispose of reusable masks
  • how often should reuseable masks be worn