August 2020 roundup: six months of remote learning insights, best practice and top tips

It’s been nearly six long months since life changed dramatically for all of us. As schools moved to remote learning for the majority of their pupils, at London CLC we turned our attention to how we could best support our partner schools, and schools and teachers more widely, to tackle remote learning as creatively and safely as possible. Alongside our usual work with schools, which also became virtual rather than face to face, we created an extensive resource bank on remote learning and kept you up to date with all the latest developments, insights and best practice on our blog. 

As we take a break over August, here’s a roundup of what we’ve been discussing with you over the past half year, from remote learning (and lots of it) to digital literacy, CPD top tips and international perspectives. And not forgetting Scratch, of course!

Remote learning

We know that many of you were inspired and made practical use of Kate Atkins’s six best practice principles from Rosendale Primary School for ‘remote learning in an emergency’. Kate is head of Rosendale, an outstanding research school in south London, and in this video (with written summary) she talked about her approach to remote learning, from the five core principles to how it works in practice and the issue of the digital divide.

As remote learning became the ‘new normal’, we saw more and more examples of great practice are emerging from schools. We collected highlights, organised around some of the core principles of remote learning identified by Kate and sourced in our work with schools at this time. 

We also shared some brilliant ideas of how teachers are sharing activities with pupils and parents, from sharing activities via Twitter and using YouTube at Reay Primary School to setting class activities through SeeSaw at Hitherfield Primary School.

And, in our podcast, you heard from a head and a teacher from two London primaries about how they are maintaining a sense of belonging and teacher presence during lockdown: Creative uses of technology for home learning. Ideas shared range from responding to the register with an emoji and five-minute tours of Peru to phonics tasks and dance routines from a class puppet called Chocolate Chocolate Button!

“I was immediately greeted with the news that in the last seven days pupils had made a total of 10,000 posts, 7,000 comments and 8,000 likes.”

It was back to Rosendale to learn more about its remote learning journey with SeeSaw.

London CLC’s Rowan Roberts, who supported Rosendale with its move to SeeSaw, recounted how it helped the school adapt to lockdown learning and how it made her feel: “I’m not sure I can explain the full mix of emotions I felt when I saw all the interaction on SeeSaw. I was inspired by the children and teachers, proud to have played a part in the process, but also sad that the children clearly missed each other so much, and that we’re still a long way from this kind of online community being accessible to all children across the country.”

As thoughts turned to what might happen in September, we took a look at the possibilities and pitfalls of moving to blended learning. In this blog post we explored what teachers think, what parents think and how other countries, which have returned to school sooner than the UK, managed the transition.

Digital inequality

The digital divide has been a huge topic since March, with the effect of digital inequality and data poverty on children and families finally getting some of the attention it deserves – if not always adequate answers. 

In Bridging the digital divide: latest evidence and advice on remote learning and digital equality in schools, we took a deep dive into what the fact that an estimated one million children and young people and their families lack adequate access to a device or connectivity at home means for home learning. We also offered some approaches and strategies schools can take to support families with remote learning and drew on Daniel Stanford’s excellent ‘bandwidth immediacy matrix’. As he explained, “seemingly small (and sometimes unconscious) choices about the technologies we use can have a big impact on how inclusive and effective our teaching is. The more aware we are of this, the more we can ensure we’re choosing the right tools for the right reasons.”

CPD

According to a Nesta/Teacher Tapp survey, 42% of the 7,000 teachers surveyed said that CPD is the most useful form of support they could be given.

We’ve been on the frontline, delivering whole-school virtual CPD sessions and running weekly community of practice sessions online. We shared what we learned during this unprecedented situation, plus 10 top tips for effective remote teacher CPD.

Plus, Eight things school computing leaders learned during lockdown!  Every week since lockdown we’ve been hosting a weekly virtual meet up for computing subject leaders to share their experiences and challenges and learn from each other. At the end of the academic year, we shared everyone’s reflections and insights about what they’ve learned during this unusual period.

Digital literacy

In a pandemic, reliable information is crucial. How can parents help children to navigate the news?  London CLC’s Peter Lillington had some pointers in News, fake news and digital literacy from a family perspective, along with helpful resources for both children and adults.

NIST school, Thailand

International perspectives

It’s always interesting to hear how teachers around the world are tackling remote learning, and we were delighted to feature a guest blog post from Tim Goundry, who teaches at NIST International School in Thailand. In Zoom fatigue, Macbeth and innovation coaches: remote learning, he discussed how the school’s approach to remote learning has evolved over time in response to ‘Zoom fatigue’ and student feedback – and the value of the CPD that prepared teachers to use the technology.

We also took a look at how KC Snijders Primary School in the Netherlands worked with a developer to co-create a digital portfolio for teachers, children and parents, and how it came into its own during lockdown.

Your questions answered

We kicked off a new series: Your questions answered, in which we answer teachers’ and school leaders’ most pressing questions about all aspects of remote learning. The first couple of topics covered were How can we get the most out of the free version of SeeSaw? and How can my school safely use Twitter or Facebook to support remote learning?

Plus, Scratch!

Of course we couldn’t neglect Scratch during lockdown! We came up with a couple of great activities to share with classes: Programming with Scratch: All about the Vikings! and Programming with Scratch: create a virtual African art museum

Looking forward, we’ll be back in September with more resources, insights, shared best practice to help you navigate the ‘new normal’ as schools reopen. Get alerted to new blog posts in our weekly newsletter – sign up below.

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