Wednesday 13 May 2020

Things to celebrate during lockdown learning

During this lockdown period, my planning has had to get a little creative to stay interesting and interactive for students. After nearly 8 weeks of video-call and email contact only with my kids, I'm glad to say the relationship I have with students is doing well. Some of them I see and talk to for at least 3 hours everyday, and some I haven't spoken to at all. That's just the way it is.. 

There has been a lot to celebrate. 
My students have blogged more than ever before. 
This is partly due to the fact things I would have preferred to do in a book (especially maths), are now being done online. Time that would have been spent doing more tactile or physical things (such as art, PE, programmes running within the school etc), are now being filled with digital-based learning. Another reason is because I have broken my planning up into more bite-sized pieces (so less of a mental load for students), so these can be blogged bit by bit rather than one big thing at the end of the project. 

They have made some really cool CREATE tasks. 
For various lessons, students have had to make things. Not all the kids make it every time, some never make anything. But the things I am getting back, are really awesome. 

One student's pancake tutorial (was related to an instructional writing task)

Same task - different child.

Same task, different child again.

For their technology project, they were asked to make something 'steampunk' inspired. 
One kid made a rocket-pack out of stuff she found at home.

For reading, we have been looking at various texts related to WW1 (prompted by ANZAC day of course). After learning about trenches/tunnels/no man's land/aerial attacks/ceasefires etc, one child, completely unprompted, made his own version of the Western Front in a game he likes to play. He built trenches, put up blockades in no man's land, put in tanks etc. He even tried to build tunnels underneath no man's land, but was limited by the games formatting so couldn't finish this. 
I was blown away, and as a class we spent ages playing Combat in his Western Front arena. 

Some students, via online-learning, have 100% attendance and 100% work completion. 
Which is crazy, considering there is no way for me to make them to any of it. If they choose not to come online that day, I can't do anything about it. I can't magically turn their computer on and make them talk to me. I can't make them complete the task, blog it and share their blog in the submission form. They are just doing that on their own. It's been awesome.

We have found ways to help each other out and make it work.
Where normally, I would have drawn a picture on the whiteboard or sat down next to a student and written something on their maths book, we have had to get creative. 
A lot of the time, it looked like me working out the problem on a piece of paper, then holding up that piece up paper to my laptop camera for the kid to see how to solve it.. not ideal but it worked. Just took a long time.. 
Later I figured out how to share an online-whiteboard with the kids so they could work together to draw/whatever to solve a hard problem. This evolved further into having individual whiteboards for certain kids, because kid A wouldn't stop drawing on kids B's work, or maybe kid C was 5 questions ahead of kids A and B and couldn't concentrate with the others talking. 
Having individual whiteboards worked really well for the kids - gave them space and time to work things out, but was really hard for me to manage (trying to be on 10 whiteboards at the same time, all the kids at different points solving different questions). 
But, it was better than nothing. 


  1. Powerful reflection here Ashley, as you have shared some great examples of success and engagement from your learners. I am especially stoked to see the way learners have integrated learning tasks into their passions eg gaming (can't wait to give it a go myself). You have put a lot of hard work in making LCS fully visible to your learners and now it is coming full circle and also inspiring others to build on their learning via their blogs. Nga mihi for putting in so many hours to connect with ako and make learning fun during lockdown.

  2. Kia ora Ashley. I'm a facilitator in the Ako Hiko cluster. I've also noticed an increase in blogging as well as tasks where students have more choice and flexibility while being creative. I am working on ways to ensure these things continue when everyone is back at school from next week so I'd love to hear any ideas you have on how we can sustain these positive gains. What online whiteboard did you use? I've heard mixed reviews of a number of different ones.


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