Research School Network: Distance Learning For Year 1

Distance Learning For Year 1

by Billesley Research School
on the

COVID 19 has radically changed the way schools operate. In this post I will explore the design and reflection of distance learning in Year 1 at Billesley Primary School.

Designing online learning for Year 1

Three key areas of consideration drove the design of our distance learning provision for Year 1; children and their families’ access to learning, allowing for a continuation of the style of teaching at school and opportunities for assessment and feedback.

When planning our online learning provision we decided we wanted to give children and their families flexibility in terms of how they engaged with the content. We knew that access to computers, laptops and ipads might be challenging for some of our children so by using a website we ensured that all children could access the content of our provision but they could choose to complete their work either electronically or not.

We decided to set up a Google Site because this is how we celebrate children’s independent learning opportunities in school so the children were familiar with the layout and it felt more like a continuation of their school learning at home. Google Sites allowed us to mirror many aspects of the teaching process in school, for example we could upload videos of us modelling processes, photos of different stages and organise learning in a similar way.

We wanted to be able to see and give children feedback as this is an essential part of teaching so we set up an email address for children to email their work in. For each subject we created a work to celebrate’ area where we post all the children’s work and give them feedback.

Reflecting and refining online learning for Year 1

From making those decisions in designing what our online learning would look like to our provision now has been a reflective journey. Here are a few aspects which we developed further as we transitioned to online teaching and learning.

One of the first aspects of school learning we wanted to maintain was our relationships with the children during this period of distance learning. We felt that a significant part of this was in hearing your teacher’s voice so we used Screencastify which allows you to record audio and video while presenting Google Slides. In the beginning we used it to teach a daily phonics lesson and we have had positive feedback from parents around their children’s engagement.

We followed the same lesson structure for each lesson, activate, explain, practice, reflect, review, as discussed by EEF (2020). Planning for progression within and across lessons meant that we started each week with a weekly overview for how learning would develop.

As it became clearer that teaching online would be a longer term endeavour we wanted to move from giving the children work which was a consolidation and extension of their school based learning to new learning. For example in maths we wanted to move the children onto repeated addition and to follow the concrete, pictorial, abstract structure which has been successful in school based learning. Building on our reflections about engagement we filmed ourselves using objects around our houses to make arrays and asked children to send in photographs of their concrete stage.

Subject leaders at our school have developed a range of engaging challenges for their subject across the school. We have found that whole school challenges have been successful in engaging children because they could work together with their siblings.

Finally we found that children would email us with additional home learning which they had completed with their families and we wanted to share this too so we created a separate area of the website to celebrate this learning.

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