Like all of us, King’s St Alban’s has experienced a year like no other since the first lockdown in March 2020 and we have adapted to digital learning. In the last 12 months, our experience and passion for education has been tested countless times as we have needed adapt to blended teaching techniques and been subject to frequent, often last-minute teaching changes.
The entire teaching staff embraced the challenges and adapted incredibly quickly to teach the children virtually in the new year, engaging with new techniques to bring a remote classroom to life.
At the forefront of all this change, was the focus on our children’s wellbeing and to ensure that they continue to receive an excellent education as well as enjoy the process and feel that the King’s St Alban’s close knit community, and ‘King’s Warmth’, is very much alive.
Our King’s St Alban’s teaching staff are nothing if not adaptable. Although it was not the start to the Spring term that we wanted, the entire school seamlessly switched to remote lessons just one day after the government’s announcement in early January. Engagement levels have been excellent and progression and feedback from both parents and pupils have been positive.
Our Digital Tools
Zoom – Our virtual, collective meeting place during remote learning. We use Zoom for assemblies, of which there are 2-3 a week for the children, for whole-class informal activities, for virtual after-school clubs, music lessons or even storytime. Zoom is an incredibly safe and user-friendly platform that even the youngest children are confident to use correctly.
Class Dojo – Used by the Pre-Prep, for Years Reception to Year 2, Class Dojo is 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. Children and parents can then view marked work and highlight any queries. The newsfeed section is an instant way to share class-wide news and messages from teachers in any department.
Showbie – Years 3 to 6, or the Prep School, use Showbie as an online workbook, all work being set, completed and marked through the app. The children can submit their work in various ways such as scanning in a piece of written work, recording a voice note or submitting a video to show how a practical task has been carried out. Both written and voice note feedback is sent back via the teacher and house points can be logged by the child. There is also a live feed which is how live lessons are streamed.
Padlet – Padlet is an online post-it board that allows teachers to share ideas, suggest additional activities and resources in a collaborative way that enables the children to view one another’s ideas and gain inspiration and a sense of being together, albeit virtually. With everything available to view in one place, it makes it incredibly easy for parents to stay on track during these busy times.
Supporting Apps – Alongside these tools, teachers make use of various other apps and resources to bring the lessons to life and encourage interaction. These include:
- Socratic – This learning app enables users to ask questions by taking a picture of the question on paper, using voice search, typing a question/search term, or just browsing through topics. The app will find the best online resources for you to understand concepts and learn independently.
- Kahoot – Kahoot is a game-based learning platform, which brings groups of users together to play educational-based quizzes.
- MyiMaths – This learning app helps bring Maths alive. MyiMaths is an interactive online teaching and homework subscription website for schools that builds pupil engagement and consolidates maths knowledge.
Digital Learning - a breakdown
Our youngest year group have four live lessons a day:
- Form Time with PHSE
In addition to this, the children have topic-based learning activities, music, French and Forest School.
Key Stage 1 – (Years 1 and 2)
Years 1 and 2 (our Pre-Prep Department) work to a slightly condensed timetable. Children have Live daily English and Maths lessons. Additional core subjects include science, topic, and RE/PSHE. Our Pre-Prep children have also received weekly PE lessons, Forest School, art, French and music lessons all delivered by our subject specialist teachers. Daily storytime is a highlight for the children when they come together and enjoy a book with a different teacher to relax and wrap up the end of the day.
Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)
Years 3 to 6 work to a slightly condensed timetable with a mix of live elements in subjects where possible, together with pre-recorded lessons. There are Live starts to all English and Maths lessons, with teachers present to monitor and answer questions throughout all daily lessons.
It is fantastic that so many of the teachers take the time to leave voice notes on his work, the feedback is typical of KSA's focused approach and while in lockdown it's especially motivating for him to hear the positive encouragement.
Co-curricular and Wellbeing
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 in this phase of extended digital learning. At a time when there is limited contact with peers and friends, we felt very strongly that it was vital to promote the co-curricular elements of school life to help maintain children’s wellbeing, promote a positive outlook and create sessions for group activities where possible to continue the King’s Family spirit.
Our wonderful Music Department adapted to remote teaching very well and we have enjoyed two informal Virtual Concerts during lockdown. Our PE team launched the KSA Kickstart Challenge to give children a wide variety of choices to keep active throughout their time at home. Our Head, Mr Chapman, devised the KSA 10 Point Plan as a reminder of the importance of wellbeing, plus a special Prep School-focused newsletter and assembly was delivered by our foundation clinical psychologist, dedicated to ‘finding your brave’. We also devised a fun virtual co-curricular programme of clubs to let the children enjoy some informal time together doing sport or art activities as a step away from digital learning.
While we haven’t been able to meet together, we have held virtual events to bring the King’s St Alban’s community together. On the last Friday before half term, we had ‘Fun Hat Friday’ when children were encouraged to wear a silly hat or wig and we started the day with a whole school virtual ‘Wake Up and Shake’ fun workout.