Children, teachers and families are at the heart of everything HD Qingdao does and we are committed to helping everyone have positive learning experiences, whether online or in school.
During these uncertain times, it has been important that the learning continued, even if it couldn’t happen in person. This is why we continued to provide access to expert teaching staff, best practices, and personalised online learning resources for children who are studying remotely.
Having Read Write Inc (RWI) as our chosen scheme for HD Qingdao has also been highlighted as being extremely beneficial at this time. It is taught systematically and in smaller focused groups. This meant that our online group work has been more manageable for teachers and the routine and technical vocabulary was already established in each group.
Electronic resources, prepared by the international staff, have allowed us to build on a firm foundation for continuing our daily RWI lessons. In addition to these resources, many of our teachers use PPTs as a part of their regular lessons, so that the teaching of the ‘Green words’ and key vocabulary for each book is visual and memorable and it keeps the lessons pacey and engaging for children.
One of the difficulties, at the beginning of this online journey, was making sure that the teaching resources we provided were not only effective during live lessons, but also allowed children to learn offline and independently when they were unable to join a live lesson. Our teaching staff developed computing skills, like how to embed audio clips and how to create screen recordings, to enable this optional way of learning.
In some groups, where it was needed, our teachers have provided additional video recordings of each book. This has allowed children to see individual words being read accurately, which has added an extra level of support. The children have also had the opportunity to record their reading practise sessions at home and send the videos to the teacher. This has provided the pupils with the opportunity to develop a sense pride in their progress. They have been able to listen back to their pronunciation, self-correct their reading and become more accurate each time they read their book. In turn, this has increased their motivation to read English.
As the children move through the RWI programme, we aim to develop students into confident and fluent readers who gain a love for reading. This certainly was the case for some of our Grade 1 and 2 Yellow group children. They moved onto the non-fiction texts and were given some opportunities to have real life experiences to help deepen their comprehension of the books.
One of the books, ‘How to make a model bird,’ provided the perfect opportunity for the children to have a go at this activity and they created some fantastic model birds, at home. This meant that they were then able to use this experience to refer to when writing their own instructions.
Many children in the Yellow groups, and above, are now writing independently and can discuss their ideas for writing, in English. I have been extremely pleased with the fact that our assessments have shown that children have continued to make progress despite learning online. It hasn’t been easy for the children, teachers or parents, but to know this makes it all the more worthwhile.
Throughout the Literacy and Language lessons, the children have also been provided with high quality learning resources. I have seen many fantastic pieces of work from the children in these classes. The creativity and confidence with their choice of vocabulary has just been wonderful to see.
More recently, some groups have looked at performance poetry, while other groups have written their own fictional diary entries about an invisible friend. There has been no stopping their imaginations running wild!
It is important to mention that not only have staff and children adapted their daily lives to continue learning online; our parents have been a phenomenal support at this time. From downloading the resources the night before, to sitting beside their children to ensure they remain on task during each lesson. Without their support and co-operation this whole experience would not have been as successful. It has brought us closer together as a community and for that, we should all be thankful.
However, I am sure we are all looking forward to the reopening of the school, so that teaching and learning can commence in the traditional way; face to face.
There is something quite special about all being together and feeling the energy in the room when teaching! As teachers we miss popping around from child to child, offering just the right amount of support and challenge so that children remain engaged and enjoy their education.
One day, many years from now, we will all look back on this online learning period and realise that although it has been a roller-coaster of emotions; remote learning has reminded us that powerful learning can only happen when we are engaged, focussed and motivated.