Remote learning 2.0: a culture of thinking

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Remote learning24 July 2020

Following staff sharing and feedback from parents and students, principal Phil Doherty says St Paul the Apostle, Doreen, has worked diligently to build on its remote and flexible learning program the second time around.

‘Like all schools, remote learning 1.0 for us was largely a leap of faith. While it didn’t change our pedagogical approach, and we covered the same concepts as if we were teaching face to face, clearly the way we needed to deliver the learning experience was completely turned on its head.

‘Now armed with the experience, and looking at other models of best practice, we’ve worked to build on 1.0 and plan a more engaging and purposeful remote learning 2.0 experience’, said Mr Doherty.

Mr Doherty says remaining true to its ‘culture of thinking’ lens was important to the school and it has resisted relying on copious worksheets as ‘busy work’ for children. Instead, worksheets are used to either gauge student understanding or as a template to guide student thinking.

‘Our learning portal now includes explicit teaching sessions via Zoom and videos. We’ve also built significantly on our ability to deliver the wider curriculum, including live weekly cooking lessons and fortnightly Bluearth PE sessions. Our school choir is also progressing full steam ahead via weekly virtual rehearsals and we have formed a virtual choir including children, staff and families.

‘We’ve set a home-based STEM for Humanity challenge requiring students to respond to the problem of modifying their home to make it suitable for a person with a disability. Students will also participate in a medical science virtual unit focusing on the science of health and wellbeing, with the ability for students to ask clinical questions of doctors, learn first aid, and understand things like blood pressure and heart rate.

‘For languages, we have introduced a regular story-time session read entirely in Italian via Zoom and videos.’

Mr Doherty said regular Google Meet or Zoom sessions (up to three per day) will be held with classes for explicit teaching purposes, and to enable teachers to touch-base and nurture student wellbeing. Lessons for children with additional learning needs will also be provided. The Seesaw app has been implemented recently to enhance two-way communication between home and school, and to engage families with their child’s learning journey.

‘Feedback from our children indicated that they missed the collaborative nature of learning embedded in our thinking culture here at SPA. In response, the teachers in the senior level have implemented the “breakout rooms” function in Zoom to enable collaborative learning to occur naturally, replicating what our students experience and value onsite.

‘Weekly student wellbeing sessions and the availability of counselling and psychology sessions with children via Zoom are a further feature of our 2.0 offering’, he said.

‘I am extremely proud of the way the St Paul the Apostle team has come together and responded to the challenges of remote learning. I’d particularly like to thank our entire SPA staff for their inspirational efforts and collective wisdom, along with our families for their support and engagement.

‘These are challenging times for both schools and families, and we must all work together and support each other to ensure the children receive the best educational opportunities possible.

‘Everyone is most welcome to visit the St Paul the Apostle home learning portal via the website at:’, Mr Doherty said.