Tips for Guiding Children through School Shutdowns - Renaissance Australia
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Tips for Guiding Children through School Shutdowns

By: Denise Spanswick

Being creative as a teacher during a period of school shutdowns while students are still required to do schoolwork as normal, can be challenging.  The urgency of putting together “at home learning” experiences can disrupt the sequencing for student learning.  During these challenging times providing support and guidance, as we continue to Accelerate Learning for All becomes critical. With remote online learning being a core component of what we do, here are a few ideas that can help you create at home tasks that are interactive, interesting and support curriculum outcomes.

Create a project to explain the situation

Overnight the world has changed, even adults are having trouble grasping the situation. Help ease your students’ minds, relieve some anxieties by creating a project where they can explore and understand what is going on around them! Topics could include virology, immune systems, germs, being active and staying healthy. As a teacher, you can create a reading list of suggested books on these topics. Students then use this reading list to construct a writing task about the subject.  The writing task can be marked, and feedback given online for students to view and edit if required.  Our digital myON platform gives students opportunities to work on projects at home and access a library of digital books which can be used for projects and remote learning.

Developing a class community online

Creating a class Facebook, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangout group in times of home learning is a great way to allow students to communicate and interact with each other at home.  This gives them an avenue to discuss what they are studying and can be used like a book club to engage with books that children can read together – such as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or set class texts.  An activity could be to go on a neighbourhood bear hunt and discuss their observations afterwards! This kind of activity helps concrete the story and student comprehension. If your school uses Accelerated Reader this can also be checked via the associated Accelerated Reader Quiz.

Create book reading lists

Prepare book lists and work with you students to make sure they have enough to read over the remote learning period. Books might be sourced from home collections, public libraries, your school’s library, eBooks or other online libraries. Knowing what they should be reading helps you work effectively in developing activities and projects to support their continued literacy growth. myON by Renaissance can support students with access to over 5,500 books and allows for creation of projects and activities remotely too. Students can also search ARBookFinder to discover titles at the right level for them.

Let them explore new worlds

During extended learning from home, students may get restless in confinement. To alleviate this, encourage students to explore the surreal worlds that are part of the book they are currently reading.  Students could then complete tasks in a project titled “Hogwarts” and create pieces of artwork that go with this make-believe world such as paintings, drawings, maps, outfits, spells or maybe food.  Make believe worlds could include (but are certainly not limited to) the following – Narnia, Asgard, Middle Earth, Hogwarts, a Treehouse, a Chocolate Factory or a galaxy far, far away.

Set projects and assignments encouraging keeping active

It’s easy to become inactive and let learning slip when students can play video games or watch streaming videos. Creating projects that incorporate students being active, then linking to texts (and to curriculum) including topics such as bike riding, reaching target steps of physical activity each day, or good old fashion games such as hopscotch and skipping.  Other projects to get students active around the house could include a scavenger hunt for items that would be inside a place of living or on a balcony/backyard. The myON platform can help organise these remote projects. Create and manage projects with assigned book collections making it easy for students to stay on task and monitor their progress.

Include the family

Board games such as Scrabble and Boggle offer a great opportunity to bring the family together in shutdown times and offer quality family time.  It could also be used to kick start new projects for students to work on during shutdown.  Students could use the words that they created in the game within a short story on a given topic or a topic of student choice.  Photos of the words created in the game could be sent to teacher for confirmation through your chosen class community platform.

During this uncertain time we all have to understand that everyone is facing challenges, teachers are trying their best to provide content to students, parents are trying to work out how to get them to do it and students are being asked to learn in their home environment with many distractions. If we all work together, we can continue to accelerate learning for all. The Renaissance team will continue to be here, offering support to schools and educators as they navigate this tough time. If you need any assistance or wish to learn more about remote education contact us here, or visit our Renaissance at Home page.