The week of full school reopening is upon us, and no doubt your little treasures are already super excited to get back in the classroom and see one another again. But inevitably, there will still be some pupils who need to learn from home, and the question remains - how can you include them without doubling your workload or compromising your in-class teaching?
It’s a bit of a riddle, but computer lead and teacher Ben Chaffe seems to have found an approach that works for his primary school AND reduces teacher workload. Read how he’s managed it - and see if it could work in your school too…
What you’ll need to make this work
Firstly, Ben explains that your school will need to get set up on a digital education platform, like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams, and able to teach live lessons. If you aren't already up and running - you can learn more about both platforms and how to apply for funding here.
Your pupils will also need to be able to access a device at home. There are still DfE-funded laptops, tablets and 4G hotspot devices available for the most disadvantaged children to help combat digital poverty. You can find out more about this scheme, and how to get your disadvantaged pupils set up here.
The benefits of this approach
Once you've set that up, Ben shares that you can use your device to stream the lesson live at the same time to pupils at home, which means you can streamline your work, even if it’s just for one lesson. What’s more, pupils at home are still able to feel connected to their class and teacher by interacting with them during lessons and listening to instructions. And lastly, some parents will be pushed for time, overwhelmed, or both - when it comes to delivering remote learning, and this approach certainly alleviates some of that pressure.
Scheduling your live lessons
Ben Chaffe explains how in his school, Scorton CofE Primary School, staff run 1 live lesson at the start of each day - and for the rest of the day, pupils at home follow recorded lessons. Some of their pupils aren't able to attend a live lesson every time, for example if they're sharing devices at home, but having some interaction throughout the week still has an impact on keeping them engaged and connected to the school.
In advance of each live lesson, Ben suggests uploading online tasks to your digital education platform- making sure you include instructions for each task, so pupils at home can get a head start.
Scorton CofE Primary School uses Kami for some of its online tasks, which is a free extension for Google Classroom that allows pupils to edit pdfs.
Here's an example of a task Ben created:
Keeping remote pupils engaged throughout the class
Ben recommends that, if possible, set up a laptop so you can have some face-to-face interaction with remote pupils at the start of the lesson, and be sure to welcome them to the rest of the class. Once you've welcomed pupils at home, switch to sharing your screen so pupils can see what's on your digital board. It's okay that pupils at home can't see your face at this point, as they'll still be able to hear you and the rest of the class in school.
Throughout the lesson, remember to ask pupils at home questions to help you check their understanding and make sure they're staying engaged. Remember that you'll need to allow time for the pupil at home to answer the question by unmuting themselves.
When it comes to setting work throughout the lesson, upload these to your digital education platform. Ben recommends asking your pupils at home to turn on their microphones, and check each pupil understands what they need to do. If you're setting a longer task, you can go back to the computer to check how your pupils at home are getting on.
It’s difficult keeping an eye on those pupils still learning at home, especially with hundreds of excitable pupils running around in your newly reopened school. But hopefully this advice will make it easier for you to do so, and keep your classroom communities together. In the meantime, the team at ScholarPack wish you all the best with reopening next week.
The advice in this article is taken from a case study written by our colleagues at The Key for School Leaders, who originally worked with Ben Chaffe.