Despite our combined teaching experience here at King’s Hawford, when the Prime Minister announced nationwide school closures in March 2020 it was like nothing we’d ever seen before.
Fortunately, as teachers we are used to adapting our approach and coming up with innovative ways to inspire our children in a range of learning environments.
From the outset our priority was the happiness and wellbeing of our children. We were determined to continue with, as far as was reasonably possible, the provision of an outstanding education and to maintain that sense of community that King’s Hawford is so well known for.
Almost a year on, and in the middle of our second round of school closures, it’s been amazing to see how the school community has adapted to this new way of learning. Within 24 hours of the school closure announcement, Hawford pupils were participating in remote lessons from the safety of their own homes, with little or no interruption to their ongoing education.
Although Lockdown has made us wholly reliant on remote learning solutions we have been shaping our digital learning programme for some time. Some of the tools that make up our provision are completely new, whilst others were in full or partial use prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Pupils are used to using tablets and devices for all sorts of classroom -based activities from Year 1, with those in Years 5 and 6 bringing their own tablets into school to complement their learning. Over half of our teaching staff have completed the Apple Teacher Qualification, with the remaining due to be certified by the end of the summer term.
Whilst we do use iPads, we avoid focussing on one platform and prefer to think of ourselves as a multi-platform school. Ipads are used alongside a range of other IT platforms in school to prepare our children for the diverse range of IT solutions they will come across in their school life and beyond.
The planning and work which has gone into making the children feel at ease and engaged is beyond anything I've experienced previously.
Bringing Digital Learning to Life
Showbie – We think of Showbie as our online workbook. The children can submit their work in various ways such as scanning in a piece of written work or submitting a video to show how a practical task has been carried out. Feedback is sent back via the teacher.
Showbie has been the backbone of our digital offering since April 2020. On our return to school in September 2020 we continued to use Showbie to submit and mark work so we could maintain traditional methods of work and focus on things such as presentation and handwriting, whilst allowing the children to use the most up to date technology. Parents also appreciate this approach because they have unparalleled access to their children’s work.
Since Lockdown 3 all work in Key Stage 1 and 2 is set, completed and marked through Showbie.
Zoom – Our virtual classroom. Zoom is where we come together as a class for form time, live lessons and group activities.
Class Dojo– An incredibly intuitive website and app that connects pupils, parents and teachers to facilitate free flowing communication. Each child has their own portfolio where parents can submit work to the teacher. We also manage our house point system through Class Dojo and utilise the newsfeed section to share class wide news and messages.
Padlet – An online post-it-board that allows teachers to share ideas, suggest additional activities and resources. With everything available to view in one place, Padlet makes it incredibly easy for parents to stay on track during these busy times.
Supporting Apps – Teachers make use of various other apps and resources to bring the lessons to life and encourage interaction. These include:
- Quizlet class spelling tests.
- Socrative and Classtime to create interactive assessments so we can track progress and identity knowledge gaps.
- Kahoot and Nearpod to create interactive, whole-class quizzes on aspects of the curriculum.
- Various year groups have also enjoyed incorporating Minecraft into their learning
- Our Year 6 children have also been using Headspace for regular meditation and mindfulness sessions.
We asked the children to do a presentation in Humanities on the changes that took place during the Neolithic Era. We gave them the option of doing this on Minecraft and many had a go. They produced videos walking through their created world pointing out the village features such as wattle and daub on the new permanent wooden buildings, or looking at how and why they had started farming.
Digital Learning - A Breakdown
Our youngest children enjoy five live lessons a day:
- Form Time
- Afternoon introduction
Key Stage 1 – (Years 1 and 2)
An adapted timetable which includes English and Maths fully live in the morning with three short live sessions and a task in the afternoon.
Key Stage 2 (Years 3 – 6)
A full live timetable, which teachers and students following the normal timetable of the school day online.
We love the feedback on her work on Showbie, especially the voice notes left by Miss Willis. It makes it very personal, somehow more meaningful, and encouraging.
Throughout the school closures we’ve been very conscious of the increased amount of time spent on screens, and we know it’s something that our parents are concerned about too. One of the things that is very important to us here at Hawford is providing opportunities for the children to learn in different environments and to appreciate the world around them.
We have therefore introduced Enrichment Sessions for all pupils from Year 3 – 6 on three afternoons a week so the children can embrace a whole range of activities including sport, cookery, scavenger hunts, gardening, mindfulness sessions or just a good old-fashioned walk with the family.
Alongside these Enrichment Sessions we’ve created a number of virtual events to keep the Hawford spirit alive. From a Duvet Day at the end of half term and a Sustainable Fashion Show, to a Hip-Hop session and an Abba Tribute Event for the whole family to enjoy – every day is full of fun.
Digital Learning Highlights
- Various year groups have been participating in virtual bake-a-longs, much to the delight of our parents who reap the benefits!
- Fancy dress has never been so popular. Fancy dress fitness sessions could well become a permanent feature.
- The children enjoy 2 virtual assemblies each week, and we still create a weekly episode of our popular radio show, KH Radio.
- We continue to welcome external guests into our virtual classrooms to inspire the children. Guests joining us on Zoom have included Worcester Warriors player Ted Hill.
- Story time remains a highlight of the day. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for our parents to make a guest appearance to share their favourite story and we’ve also had a number of mystery guests.