Tag Archives: Remote learning

Lockdown 4.0 Remote Learning is Back!

After 3 months of face to face teaching and relative freedom, with masks only needing to be worn in crowded spaces, on public transport and when it is impossible to distance socially, we have community transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria once more. A 7 day circuit breaker lockdown was announced on Thursday of last week. Teachers were given a student free day on Friday to prepare for remote learning, and online classes commenced yesterday. Vulnerable students and children of essential workers can attend school. Unfortunately, our numbers of cases are rising, COVID has found its way into aged care homes, and the number of exposure sites is extremely high. Personally, I feel our lockdown will be longer.

Therfore, we are all back to watching the daily Premier’s briefing, media updates and waiting to see what happens next.

Yesterday, was hard. It was hard to get back into online teaching, MS Teams and its fantastic Live Meetings had changed a little but today, the second day is a little easier. Our primary students from foundation to year 4 only have school in the morning. The rest continue with their normal timetable as much as possible but teachers are cautioned not to overload students with work, nor expect them to be on face to face time for the whole day. My VCE classes continue as usual but I try to play music as they enter the virtual room to give time to relax and settle in.

What my ICT (computer classes) looked like yesterday.

On entry, played the song “I don’t like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats. Students discussed whether they agreed with this statement.

  1. We looked at the news for today including COVID-19 numbers, special days acknowledged for May 20th. Macaroon Day was of high interest and I was intrigued to note that most students had not heard of them, nor tried them. In Australia, it is also Reconciliation Week and our last day of autumn.
  2. Students shared how they were feeling in the chat by using an emoji (inserting a gif from MS Teams)
  3. Students found a picture of the last food that they ate and shared it in the chat.
  4. I had emailed each student with a few questions about eg what they did on the weekend and a challenge. They had to write their first and last name all as one word and then put each letter in alphabetical order. They had to reply back to me using email.
  5. Next class I will collate all the jumbled names in a table in MS Word. Students will then unjumble the names.

This all seem to work well, students were interactive. Some chose to keep their webcams on, others remained icognito. The majority of students from each class were in attendance.

Virtual Icebreakers for online learning

When learning online or remotely, it is so important to have some fun with the students. It can be a lonely and stressful place to be learning from home, without the face to face interaction of fellow students and teachers in the classroom.

Some of these resources were suggested by members of the Global Educator Collective facebook group and others were responses to a question asked in the ISTE Connects Community discussions re suggestions for icebreakers for online learning. There are some fun and engaging activities for remote learning and also to use back in the classroom.


A fantastic list from Torey Trust on Virtual community building for high school, college and graduate students.

From Rachel Dene Poth: I have done  a lot of different ice breakers. Some of the more recent ones involved using Buncee and the many templates available to create About Me, 3 truths and a lie, things I wish my teacher knew, fun facts about me, and many more. Students create and share.  Also using Flipgrid for doing introductions or responding to prompts. With Zoom, perhaps using breakout rooms and having each room do an activity to get to know the others in the room.

Laurie Guyon: I’d use BingoBaker to create the Bingo cards and play virtually.  I have used Nearpod for games as well.  I often will put a draw it slides in as the first slide so that participants have something to do while they are waiting for everyone to join. The draw it could be a word search, a complete the picture, or a drawing game.  I also sometimes use a Collaborate board where you ask them to find a GIF about something, a quick intro, or even guess something.  It’s great to get them engaged right away!

Jackie Gerstein Virtual Team Building Activities 

Jennifer Smith: I generally try to connect my ice breaker activities to the content I will be teaching. I ask students to share the name of their favorite scientist or an example of how they used science that day/week. Pets make regular appearances in class meetings, so having students introduce their pet may be helpful. Students who do not have a pet could describe a pet they would like to have. With older groups of students I have asked them to share their most commonly used emoji or to share the song that best represents how their week has gone.




If you were stranded in the forest, what 3 things would you bring?

Students never cease to amaze me with all the ideas that they might have to share in an interactive manner while remote learning. One such topic was “If you were stranded in the forest, what 5 things would you bring?” Initially the suggestion revolved around a deserted island but got changed to the forest.

Students initally shared how they were feeling in an emoji using the chat. MS Teams was the software used for remote learning. One at a time, students used the microphone to share what they would bring to the forest. Some responses were expected but many had an element of ingenuity and creativity.  Students also had to explain why they would bring those three items. They included the following:-

Torch, gun (to shoot for food!), phone, matches, water, food, first aid kit, dog, pocket knige, car, tent, air grilles, seeds, bucket, lighter, tin can (to gather water), Australian flag, thongs, esky, camping supplies, 4 wheel motor bike, friends, surviavl packs.

One girl actually named two of her friends because one of them is smart and another was experienced at camping and would help with survival.

Dscussions continued on what students had gone camping, where they had gone camping. To make it a richer activity, it was decided that they might need to know the actual location, was there a river, how popular is the location, time, season and how long we are stranded for. All students shared and again, got to know each other better and remained connected.


Learning how to produce arcade games remotely

girls who helped

With the flagship Microsoft Store in Sydney currently closed due to the COVID19 crisis, the opportunity arose for schools and students to work with some of the team from Sydney. (Sydney is 1,135.3 km away from our school).  This was a fantastic opportunity as my coding skills are not strong.  My year 7, 8 and 9/10 ICT students learnt to produce arcade games using https://arcade.makecode.com/ whilst they were learning from home, and whilst the MS employees were also working from home.


We use MS Teams in our school but our DET tenant does not allow us to invite outsiders in. However, the Sydney team sent a meeting link in MS Teams for me to share with the students. Students were able to log in quickly and were already familiar with MS Teams. The instructors were young, savvy and spoke the students’ language. They often used vibrant and colourful backdrops. Although none of them were teachers, they delivered excellent, interactive sessions that were paced to the students’ ability.

drawing the character

The lessons looked liked this:-

  • Students logged on to the shared link
  • Two microsoft employees helped us – one was the instructor, the other kept their eye on the chat and interacted with my students.
  • The elements of coding were introduced – sprites, variables, co-ordinates etc and the actual makercode site explored.
  • Students started with the Chase a Pizza tutorial. The year 9/10 students also took a look at Galga
  • Step by step they were taken through the block codes required, with the reasons for that coding always given
  • It took approximately 30-40 mins to finish producing the game
  • Students were able to use their microphone and chat to ask questions, share their experiences etc. This was a fabulous opportunity to be able to interact with adults and demonstrate their netiquette and digital citizenship.
  • Students learned how to publish their games, save the url for their game, share it with everyone and if time, permitted, they played each other’s games.
  • They also were shown the variety of hardware that they could play their downloaded games on.

Some of the immediate feedback from the year 7 students were as follows (few of them had ever done coding):-

  • This is amazing 
  • This lesson was alright, I enjoyed making the pizza chasing the pizza slice

A big thank you to our fabulous instructors and to Microsoft for giving us this opportunity.

making arcade games collage


Day 2 of students’ transitioning to return

Today was the second day that the first lot of students were allowed to return to school. Yesterday, was rather challenging as the usual school routine had been largely forgotten.

  • marking the rolls and collecting mobile phones (I forgot to take the phones container to collect them.)
  • we had a whole school online assembly of which we missed most due to tardiness in connecting my laptop to a whiteboard for students to participate in.
  • forgot to take some textbooks to class
  • nearly forgot my lunchtime yard duty (it was a beautiful day and so nice to be outside)
  • could not remember whether I had to wear a sun hat or not. we are a Sun Smart school
  • tried to get used to the three cleaning staff wear fluro vests, who were quickly and fastidiously surface wiping in our breaks and who seemed to be everywhere. They even clean the playgrounds and the outdoor school signs.
  • counting the number of staff in the social staff room to make sure that I dont make the 15th person. I had to go to the library for my cup of coffee at recess time. Only 14 staff can be in our social staff room at any one time.

Year 7-9 classes were still learning from home. To try and engage the year 9 and 10 ICT elective, I got them to match the teacher with their favourite song. Staff were asked to share their favourite song. Students were given the teacher names on a Word document shared in MS Teams.

I played the youtube clip by sharing my screen and audio so that the remote students could also see and hear. To ensure the remote students could see and hear, I asked the questions several times for them to tell me. However the chat responses were slow and I didnt realise till nearly the end of the lesson that they could not hear. It was a long, busy, tiring day.

Today, went a lot more smoothly. Although I taught all sessions in the morning, I did not have to worry about form assembly and marking their roll. Some of my senior students were absent for medical reasons and one student will learn remotely three days a week and come to school two days per week (due to medical reasons). I just need to remember to bring him in on MS Teams so that he knows what he is doing.

The day finished with another online staff meeting. Our power is off tomorrow to add even more challenges to the mix but Powercorp agreed to provide the school with a generator to keep our lights, heater, electrical items and computer wifi going. It is huge and it took some time to work out where best to put it.



Continuing the classes of connectivity to ensure student social well being

At the end of week 4 of Remote Learning, I asked the Year 8 students in the chat whether they would like to have an informal lesson of sharing for ICT or learn a skill. They nearly all replied that they like the casual, interacitve lessons where they can suggest what to share and everyone can have a say. Even the shyest of students are now confident in using the microphone and only one is reluctant to use the web camera.

They then voted on the topic. It was decided that students could choose whether to bring a favourite game or talk about “My three favourite things”. Again I learnt so much more about the individual students who I teach in class. One of the shyest girls loves working on diamond art, enjoys music but is also learning sign language. She was brave enough to show us some of the signage that she has learnt from a book that her Dad has lent her.

Jasmine sign language

What a fantastic thing to be doing, especially as all the televised media releases alfeature people using sign language to update the audio impaired people with COVID-19 and it has been reported that they are in desperate need of more.

Other favourite things included mountain bike riding, rugby, dia’mond art painting, going out with friends, dancing, anime, basketbal, painting fingernailsl and computer games that  included pubG and Call of Duty. One of the girl’s favourite games was rock, paper, scissors tournaments with whirlpool.  A couple of students shared their favourite music.

sharing favourite song

Dolly’s Day

year 7 collage cont

May 10th is Dolly’s Day. Dolly Everett was a victim of relentless bullying and she passed away at the beginning of 2018. Dolly’s Dream was that everyone would be kind to each other. Her parents have taken up her dream to prevent further young lives being lost and established “Dolly’s Dream” to create a sense of community and togetherness and prevent bullying. Dolly’s favourite colour was blue.

Usually our school would have held a special day of activities but remote learning changed the nature of some of these activities. Students who attended school were treated to a canteen being decorated in blue, with a variety of foods that were coloured blue – jelly, cup cakes etc.

Year 7 ICT had their class on this day, so they voted on the theme of “Wear something blue”. Students showed the blue clothing that they were wearing and some shared a blue object of theirs. Partway through the sharing some comments were appearing in the chat against one of the students, which made a very ‘timely’ lesson on kindness.

dollys collage

We saw and heard students describing the following:-

  • a variety of blue clothes
  • a blue football, with the name Ford on it (which is the second name of the student who showed.)
  • a blue heirloom jug
  • blue hair styles
  • a lovely blue hat complete with blue butterflies (Mrs Huglin and teacher aide created this!)

We discussed the meaning of Dolly Day and shared on kindness.

Other classes across our school completed activities relating to this day. Special thanks to Mrs Huglin for putting together the above collages and to Mr Distel who joined our class.

Year 7 students have just started blogging. Read some of their posts for Dolly Day.

  1. Kindness by Riley
  2. Dolly Day by Lillian
  3. Dolly Day by Xavier

mrs h

Bring a Talent Day – successful remote learning

the drummer

Students in years 7 and 8 brainstormed some ways in which we could have fun and stay connected in ICT whilst remote learning. Year 8 decided to hold a Bring Your Talent day – actually led by the push of one student who is often unengaged by school. I was not sure how this would go as there are number of quiet, shy and disengaged learners in the class, so I had a backup plan.

jasmine 2

As I expected, in the MS Teams chat prior to the lesson, students were telling me that they did not have a talent. So, I suggested bringing some art work, craft and told another that I know she has a great singing voice. With some trepidation, I started the class and recorded it. The student who was really keen to do a Bring Your Talent class, started off by demonstrating his newly acquired drumming skills. He had a drum kit and decided to use online resources to teach himself.

The stream was great and there was little lag in his playing. He positioned the camera well and we could see his concentration and enthausiasm. Soon after, we had one of my quietest, shyest girls demonstrating diamond craft work. She showed some of her completed work and then the tools that were required to do the diamond craft. Most used the webcamera to share art and craft work, some shared their screens to show amazing digital images that had been produced using MS Paint and others talked about the sport that they played.

zoe diamond art1

araahi earings

Others put a photo on the chat. Some talked about visiting the elderly and their skill at conversations with them. Another student read a poem to us. (She had won awards at the Eisteddfod last year) whilst a student took us outside to his vegetable garden and proudly showed us the garden beds and plants that he tended.


Planter tubs in the vegetable garden

One disengaged student who had to be chased up by admin staff as he was absent from remote learning in the first weeks, proudly took us outside to see the motor bike that he had bought and was now in the process of doing it up. Students were supportive of each other in the Team chat, asked questions and added other comments.


rhyder bike1

I loved this comment as part of the immediate evaluation of the session: “Yes it is very its fun to get to know each other”. Other initial comments included: interesting to see what people do for fun and interesting to see what people do for fun.

I honestly thought that they did know each other quite well and it has certainly enabled me to get to know them better too..

It was one amazingly successful lesson, led completely by the students that nearly had me in tears. And to finish the class, we had another drumming performance. Students are to write a blog post on their experiences and reflections.

Bring a Pet Day – Remote Learning COVID19

Year 8 Bring a Pet day

Students in years 7 and 8 have brainstormed some ways of connecting, communicating and sharing remotely. This allows them to have fun, engage, relax and enjoy learning from home. Below is their brainstorming in answergarden.

answer garden snip fun

Both groups shared their pets over the last few days. With some excitement we started the class. There were:-

  • a variety of colours and breeds of cats,
  • dogs of varying shapes and sizes
  • birds including colourful Sth American birds
  • and even a pet bucket fed calf.

Some of the animals were sleeping, some were feeding, others restless, some plain scared and others were enjoying the outside air. Students, often with the help of their parents, used the web camera effectively to show their pet and then talked more about them. Those who could not show their pets shared photos in the chat.  Mr Distel and Mr Ralph were able to be part one of the classes.

The second ICT lesson for year 7 featured favourite student photos. This was a chance for us to learn what was important to individual students and why. Photos of early childhood, favourite holidays and graduation photos were popular and displayed via the webcamera or uploaded to the chat.

A big thank you to the parents who helped their students and joined in the fun.

What my classes look like in remote learning

bringing the pet to school1

And the pets come to class too! (Upper right hand corner)

So far, all my students bar a couple have turned up for each of the two days.

What my lessons look like:-

  • I use live meetings in MS Teams for all classes.
  • With senior students, we meet initially, discuss where they are at, seek any questions, demonstrate any new concepts and then outline what is required of them for this lesson.
  • They stay in the live meeting and use the microphone to alert me to the fact that they have a question or when  they don’t understand aspects of the work. Five minutes before the end of the lesson, they share in the chat what they achieved for the lesson.
  • Some aspects of the lesson will be recorded so that students who are absent can catch up and to ensure there is understanding by the students ie they can keep rewinding till they are confident

I finish the class 5 mins early, so that they can grab food, use the bathroom, stretch their legs etc.

student demonstrates creating stickers

A student demonstrates how to customize a meme sticker

With the younger classes ie year 7 and 8, I try and have some fun in amongst the class. Today, we looked at using the following in Teams:-

  • Pinning a speaker
  • Changing backgrounds – good if they are in front of a window with too much light coming in, if family members are active in the background etc
  • Adding emojis
  • Adding stickers
  • Device settings
  • Filter for information
  • Using the @ command
  • Finding Files in Teams

Students shared their screens and showed how to customize stickers for the chat by searching for meme and changing the text.

year 11 accounting change backgrounds

Having fun changing backgrounds