Schools in our district were offered an online Q and A session with Roma Britnell, MP through the Education facility of the Parliament of Victoria. A session had been booked with the year 8 ICT class. As the original date was in the first weeks of Remote Learning round 2, it was changed to Monday 7th September. This meant that it was just a few days after parliament sat to debate extending the State of Emergency powers to 6 months and was the day after the road maps were announced for Metropolitan and Regional Victoria.
Initially students found it difficult to think of questions to ask. Many were nervous to even ask questions using the microphone. However, due to the media coverage of the past few days, the topics of conversation centred around COVID-19. Roma is not only our Member of Parliament but is also a nurse, a mother and a dairy farmer. It was interesting to hear her say that she would regularly corona virus test the dairy herd. Once the students relaxed and understood that she was genuinely interested in their voice, the questions started to come through quickly and robust discussions took place. Students even stayed online during their lunch hour to continue the interactions. Following are some of the questions that were asked of her:-
- How is covid going and will there be a vaccination anytime soon?
- Why are there so many arguments in Parliament?
- Will the restrictions ease and what was it like at the meeting when you voted to extend the State of Emergency by 6 months.
- Were you in parliament when the vote was taken to extend the State of Emergency. How did it feel?
- What made you go into politics?
- As a former nurse, what do you think is more important, the health and wellbeing of Victorians, or the economy? Or is there a way of balancing them, given the more people die, and the worst it is for the economy?
- are you handling covid , wearing the mask and do u hope that it will die down soon
- What are your thoughts on the Premier, Daniel Andrews recent announcement about the road maps
- Would the n95 mask be better than the disposable version
- Do you think that an average of 5 cases across the whole of regional Victoria is achievable over a 2 week period?
- As a Victorian what how do you feel about the extension of the state of emergency?
- What is your view on the hotel quarantine, who fault do you believe it was?
- In parliament who many people could be inside and is it mandatory to wear a mask inside
- How do you feel about the football finals being held in Queensland and them getting special treatment and a better hotel than the hotel quarantine.
- Do you think that the football shouldn’t be on due to the virus?
- Why did you chose to be a member of parliament?
A sincere thank you to Ms Roma Britnell for giving up her time and speaking with our students, showing them the human face of a politician, answering their questions not only from a politician’s point of view but from that of a Victorian citizen and speaking to them in a very relaxed and informal manner.
To show how popular this session was, one of the student’s sister’s who is a year 10 student, asked whether they could do something similar.
Webex was used to connect us. Using webconferencing that enables a chat feature gives every student a voice and Roma watch the chat to look for and answer further questions.
Darren Webb was our Chinese LOTE teacher for many years. He decided to go to Shanghai, China to teach English three years ago. He was home in Australia for Chinese New Year and is still home. However, he had to teach his classes remotely due to COVID-19 and shared the following three tips that came from parents of his students.
When working out what remote learning will look like in our school, it has been decided that the most effective and efficient way to continue teaching and learning is to use technology where possible. However, the following considerations need to be taken:-
- Teacher/student experience – comfort zones
- Age of students
- Digital access to devices, internet, tools, apps
- Social distancing
- Emotional impact
- Privacy issues
- Tools and structure vs Community Connection
- Maintaining communication with parents/families
In a digtal classroom:-
- Students would have their own devices
- Access to the internet
- Use a variety of tools and apps appropriate for learning
In setting up a “remote learning” digital classroom, it is important to look at what staff and students already have and use, the comfort zones of staff, preferences of staff for certain tools and apps and the immediacy of the situation. Victorian schools were told today (Sunday) that they will close on Tuesday for early school holidays. Therefore, the week of planning and testing that we thought we had becomes one day with students in our physical classroom.
Parents/Carers: How do best communicate with them. Communication will be a vital part of maintainingg a community and rich learning system.
- Group emails, sms using Compass, our subscription based school management system. This has been in place for 3 years now with staff increasingly using many of its features.
- A page updated regularly on School website. This will feature news on the COVID-19 virus, school news updates, individual teachers’ names hyperlinked to a list of the digital tools and apps that they will be using with their classes.
- Our school Facebook page
- Conducting trial classes with individual year levels at 7:30pm at night to not only test access, useability etc but to also allow parents/grandparents to be part of the class with their students. MS Teams is the tool to be used for videoconferencing.
- Considering the possibility of online parent meetings
Those who have already experienced school closures, maintain that the tools/apps to be used which took priority initially becomes replaced with the need to maintain a sense of human connection. This can be achieved using regular communication via emails, txt msgs, phone calls (for those without technology access) and videoconferencing. A space for chat, audio and videoconferencing enables this. Teams have been set up for most individual classes for students in years 6 to 12.
Structure is vital and a daily routine should be followed. Our secondary students will be told to follow their normal timetable, so that when they have English, they complete the tasks set by the English teacher. When they have physical education, they pursue some physical activity. Lunchtime and recess time should see a complete break from school work, taking up exercise, fresh air and enjoying healthy food.
Each day, students in years 6 to 12 will need to do the following:
- Check their emails
- Look at Compass to see if any tasks or work has been set by individual teachers in there.
- Look for updates in each subject Team.
It is still to be determined what alternative activities we can provide should students do not have access to the internet and how we get work out to them.
Staff still need to discuss what assessment will look like and so much more. What does remote learning look like for you and your school?
Some schools are now closing in Australia due to CoVid-19. In Victoria, schools go on their autumn break in 2.5 weeks time and I am taking a week’s long service leave at the end of these holidays to do a tour of Germany with my husband and some of his cousins. They go back to some of the places that their ancestors came from. At this stage we are still going but as the next weeks are unknown, I am preparing for teaching online should I be quarantined on my return or should schools in Australia be generally closed.
In preparation for this, I am collecting as many online resources, blog posts and other information as I can. Many of our teaching colleagues in China and other International Schools have already shared their experiences from the last few months. It is pleasing to note that some tools and apps are waiving their costs to help out those who need to use them.
As I am a teacher in the state of Victoria, I will be constantly monitoring this DET site for updates on the corona virus. The following resources not only cover tools and apps to use but also how to implement virtual classrooms as successfully as possible, emotional needs, parent involvement etc.
Here is what I have so far (others will be added as I find them):-
- From the Edublogger Resources for Teaching Online due to School Closures This great post is written by Kathleen Morris. She always shares great things
- Lucy Gray – a pioneer in Global Education – has put together this great google document of resources
- ATLIS Clearinghouse: Coronavirus Resources for Technology Leaders Scroll through and note the many resources and links shared.
- Laurie Guyon has put together resources on a Wakelet
- Robbie Barber has put this wakelet together to help students separate facts & fiction on COVID-19. Social media posts and updates are not always correct and many rumours spread without substance.
- There are Facebook groups to join. I like these groups as I can ask questions, learn from others, share my knowledge and interact. You can search for tags within the group, so that the same questions are not repeated.
- COVID-19 Resources for Education and Libraries by Lesley Farmer
- Well being and self care resources for home learning Wesley Fryer
- Great presentation on Teaching Remotely and in times of need by Torrey Trust
- Companies that are offering free access to their tools, apps etc
- Amazing Education Resources
- Follow this hashtag on twitter #RemoteLearning #covid19edu #distancelearning #remoteteaching
- Monitoring learning in an Online Environment Sway by Peter Sercombe – particularly for those using MS products
The next post will share what I will use and the criteria I need to address.
(More resources will be added here when I find them.)