In the following, Interim Principal Michael Deveney shares his observations of the BSY virtual school experience.
Recently, I have been dropping in on virtual school lessons across the school. It is instructive to observe lessons, and the whole process is thought-provoking, generating questions from all participants’ perspective – students, teachers and parents. The challenges that we are all facing are sometimes as clear as the screen we are looking at, but sometimes they are not-so-obvious when we reflect upon the impact of online learning on all stakeholders.
I have been impressed with the way Nearpod gives primary school teacher’s access to each student as they practice their newly acquired skills in real-time. Here, the teacher is truly a facilitator, interacting directly with one child at a time whilst keeping a watchful eye over the whole class and their work as it happens.
In Primary PE, twenty-plus Year 2 students were put through their paces: running, jumping and ducking as they went. Notably, the two PE teachers were physically separated by nine time-zones, but very much together in the same room thanks to the marvel of this technology.
I visited a Year 4 class as they studied the Water Cycle online. Their grasp of the processes involved, and associated specific vocabulary, was hugely impressive. Children were swift to offer ‘evaporation’, ‘condensation’ and ‘precipitation’ in quick-fire answers.
A Year 6 science practical lesson saw students exploring ‘refraction’ by using their live Google Meet link, Google Classroom, a mobile phone and naturally, a pencil and sheet of paper. Each student made observations as a pencil was placed in water and an arrow motif was moved behind the glass receptacle. In true scientific tradition, the observations were carefully recorded before an explanation was formulated on what had been seen, and everyone had the chance to share ideas and draw conclusions.
Finally, it was interesting to follow a group of youngsters from one lesson to the next: in this case it was Reception moving from Spanish class to PE. I was struck by the level of engagement and enthusiasm from both students and teachers in two contrasting subjects, each demanding in its own way.
We know a virtual school programme bears no resemblance to ‘home schooling’, where the parent chooses curriculum content and the style of teaching. Our virtual school lessons are designed, delivered and assessed by qualified teachers who sequence skill and knowledge acquisition in order to build confidence in young learners. Children also benefit by learning from different teachers using a range of methodologies as they navigate this planned curriculum. Parents can support too, by acting as an audience to hear their child’s new learning when read aloud, explained or performed. Why not invite your child to teach you what they have just learned? It is a great way to help embed new ideas and aid understanding – after all, you never have to rote-learn something that you understand, you simply set about explaining it!
If you are considering a change for your child, register for BYS’s virtual open day on 26th November to learn more.Contact [email protected] +95 (0) 9795541805, 9250739873.