So you’ve managed to successfully transition from how your younger students learn in a face to face physical setting, to other combinations of learning.
We now have alongside face to face learning other learning options:
- Blended – some children physically in school and other students are learning virtually
- Fully Distanced Learning – Students are out of school and either learning through virtual lessons or using materials provided to be accessed at home
Distance Learning and a Focus for Capture
During the time of distance learning, it is opportune to be consolidating ATL that have previously been explored when in physical school. So, it is likely that educators have gathered evidence on the development of the sub-skills from previous grade-level educators and previous units of inquiry. Going deeper into developing these skills whilst students are out of school, is likely the direction you are going along.
Ideas for Gathering Evidence
How you gather evidence will be dependent upon the type of learning experiences students are exploring. Please see Table 1 below for some ideas on following student learning and capturing assessments:
Where small group meetings have been set up, whilst there may be specific learning objectives, these small group interactions give rich opportunities to record how students are engaged, think of focusing in on:
- Use of technology – can they manipulate the device independently or require assistance
- Level of confidence in engaging with peers and teachers
- Observe fine motor skills (for example, tripod grip, directionality of writing, holding a book the right way round, and turning pages over)
- Do they observe turn taking instruction
Shared Documentation and Building Partnerships
Reporting on the progress that students make when in school appears straightforward enough when evidence has been duly gathered. It is no different when you write reports for those who are learning virtually. For virtual learning, you will rely more on parental input to gather evidence on the learning achieved and/or progress made.
Perhaps this is the time to invite parents to contribute with anecdotal notes on how their child(ren) are tackling the learning given to them by school. Consider setting up a shared document to capture photos with parental comments that can supplement what you have also seen and recorded.
Please see Example 1 below for an idea of how this might look.
Knowing the circumstances and the context of the student’s home will help support flexibility and choice. Keep encouraging parents to build learning routines for the students. Empowering students to be agentic requires parent support. It is worthwhile to consider organizing frequent parent information sessions to familiarise them with new learning as it is rolled out to the students. Think about how best to keep learning experiences, especially new learning inviting curiosity and engagement without the presence of a teacher there.
It may be that you are struggling to put into words what you are seeing on the screen. Table 2 provides you with some statements that could support the report writing process.
The above statements are a sample of what you could state, arrange them appropriately with positive direction for the students who have not responded so well. For example for the last statement about “responding positively to feedback”, where this has not been the case, the following could be stated instead:
“We shall continue to work on Xxxx responding to feedback given to the work presented, in this way he/she can continue to develop the responses posted”.
Taking time to share what the aim of the assessments are, will help parents/carers to understand the meaning behind the learning and get them on board to support the learning. You might consider setting up electronic portfolios where the photos, videos and voice recordings are gathered. Adult support will be needed to utilise these. There are established platforms now to do this through – shared documents are also available to make this process easier. Toddle’s Student Portfolios provide parents and, in these times, teachers a window into the student’s learning. With an option to upload evidence of learning using diverse multimedia formats, students can share ongoing thoughts and reflections, no matter where they are.
Using the Environment as the Third Teacher
Every home has resources that can help students explore and learn in different ways. While homes might not have the same resources as the classrooms, everyday items can be easy substitutes for these classroom resources. It is important for us to provide guidance to parents on easily accessible resources to support ongoing learning. For example, for measurement (capacity, volume) in water play, there are likely to be cups and jugs the student could use. Dried beans (as long as there are no health and safety hazards) can be used to support counting. Outdoor play – whether there is a garden or not, students can collect leaves and sticks in the wider environment for use as art supplies. Playdough made with flour can be used for modelling clay, and parents can be provided with an easy recipe to try.
With these resources outlined, you can use parent/carer support to roll out the learning and capture skills development and understanding of knowledge. Building these partnerships will reward you with the information and evidence that are required to reflect student progress.
The important part of reporting during virtual learning is to ensure that you have your assessments in mind to be taking notes and gathering evidence for – well now that is no different to doing this during usual at school learning. If you have the advantage of having a Teaching Assistant, use them as an additional method to capture the learning that is taking place – spend the time to plan with them and inform them about what is key for them to record and share. In addition, keep developing the relationship with the families and carers so that a rounded and balanced picture of learning can be assembled.