Dear Primary School Families,
I hope this week has gone well and you and your children are back into the routine again and are able to set schedules to access and engage with tasks set. We would like to thank you for your participation at the check-in meetings we hosted on Wednesday. I hope you found these useful and it gave you the opportunity to touch base with the school to discuss how the online learning is going. We appreciate it has been tough transitioning to a different style of learning and we hope the discussions with teachers gave you the opportunity to talk about successes and challenges at this time.
As a Primary Leadership Team we continue to review our provision and look at the best ways to offer online learning. As I have said before, in setting up our platform we looked at best practice in these situations, joined webinars and have been in touch with schools who have been doing this a lot longer than we have. Our provision is on a par with what has come from these sources. Each week this provision has been tweaked to improve this and we continue to look at ways to enhance what we are doing. I have addressed below where we have had questions on provision, but first I would like to share with you a BSM mention in the Canberra Times this week in an article written by a BSM grandad:
“In lockdown, we now home school our three grandsons, following a curriculum set by their normal school eight hours’ flight away.
Written instructions from school are supplemented by Zoom calls (garbled), teacher videos (encouraging), slide packs (daunting), exercises (interminable) and daily feedback (sometimes chastening).
Their service is exemplary: the weak link is me.”
Mark Pierce BSM grandparent Canberra Times 26th April 2020
Asynchronous vs Synchronous?
We are currently providing a mixture of asynchronous and synchronous learning. We are using synchronous to check in with students on their well-being, to boost morale and to motivate and keep spirits up. This is working well and it gives the students the opportunity to see their friends and make contact with them, and have some fun which is what they say they are missing the most. Please note that live Zoom meetings are up until 2:30pm Manila time keeping them within a normal school day.
Asynchronous is being used for teacher explanations of maths/English tasks set, with slide presentation examples as would be used in a classroom situation. In addition, the teacher is available to respond to questions giving the student the same opportunity they would have in a classroom. However, there is a trend towards less questions as we are finding more students are working through examples and gaining their own clarity. This is clearly developing independence and offering an element of struggle that is important for learning.
Another advantage of the Asynchronous approach is as Mark Lieberman explains in Education Week.
“Asynchronous learning allows flexible pacing. Teachers can use a variety of approaches: an interactive game, a practice quiz, a supplementary video. Students can feel a kind of ownership of their learning that’s not possible in classroom settings, feeling less rushed by their classmates and able to go over material at their own speed. A big advantage of asynchronous lectures is that students can watch at their own pace, rewinding if necessary or watching more than once to fully grasp the content.”
What we would also add is that this form of provision is available to children wherever they are geographically, important in an international school where our student body at this time is dispersed worldwide.
As with all provision at this time, we continue to review what we are doing.
We have conducted student surveys over the past couple of weeks and more than 80% of respondents are telling us that the level of challenge being set is just right, providing some struggle, but with students being able to work through it. The asynchronous video lessons are clearly helpful in providing clarity and supporting learning. Results also suggest it is taking children considerably longer to complete tasks at home which is to be expected. However, if they do finish early there are plenty of extension tasks being set. We are encouraging all children to have at least one Passion Project at this time and we are seeing some wonderful examples of the sorts of things your children are enjoying. There are also a number of fabulous practical science challenges that were set up prior to Easter that children can have a go at.
Hopefully Specialist Day (Y2-6) went well this week and students enjoyed the variety and return to the breadth of curriculum offered when at school. These are now compulsory and students are expected to complete these. Continuing to work on tasks set and practising the skills also offer additional activities to work on if the regular daily tasks have been completed.
For music this week the focus of all year groups was rhythm, with each year group being set differentiated tasks to recognise and recreate specific rhythms both aurally and visually. Hopefully these were fun and maybe you joined in. Anyone brave enough to share a video?
For art this week Year 1 were expressing and celebrating themselves through Abstract Art.
Year 2 and 3 created Monster Doodle Illustrations and Year 4, 5 and 6 learnt about Conceptual Art. The latter completed two activities: one using text in their artwork, making a funny statement about art and then photographing the artwork in a contrasting setting and one using readymades (objects around the house) combined to create unique sculptures and installations.
I look forward to sharing some of these pieces with you in a future newsletter.
We look forward to hosting 12 teams and 25 families including 39 children (from Nursery to Y6) at our Primary Families Quiz Night on tonight. I hope it is a great success and hope you have lots of fun taking part. We look forward to hosting more of these in the future.
Finally a massive thank you for your continued support as we go through this difficult time. We appreciate what you are doing out there and were really glad this week to be able to chat with you and support your efforts. It was also wonderful to receive positive and appreciative feedback and this meant a lot. We will continue to work together, BSM is one big family and we look after each other. Stay safe, stay positive and we will get through this.
Head of Primary School