William Bohanna Senior Teacher (Teaching & Learning)
Dynamic! This is the first word I think of as Woldingham’s teaching and learning moves into the uncharted territory of both remote and face-to-face lessons happening simultaneously.
Lower Sixth students had the opportunity to return to the valley for some much-welcomed face time with their teachers this week and we look forward to welcoming Year 10 next week. This of course presented teachers with yet another interesting challenge to overcome - the development of a ‘hybrid’ model where some lessons are continuing remotely and others ‘live’ in school. I can happily report that teachers, as ever, adapted and modified their approach to provide outstanding, innovative and consistent learning irrespective of it happening remotely or in school. Here’s a round up from the drama, maths and computer science departments…
As drama moves into the combination of face-to-face lessons and remote learning for the Lower Sixth and Year 10 consolidation days, every opportunity to participate in physical activities and create practical drama is being taken to launch students’ devised theatre exam components. Tasks have been created that allow for distance, whilst still sparking theatrical creativity such as: individual collections of potential stimuli shared by all in the classroom and online; scavenger hunts to encourage creativity from random objects; stream of consciousness monologue writing exercises; solo performances using studio frames and lights to switch between, like switching channels on the remote control, whilst the remote learners switch cameras/microphones on and off in a similar fashion.
All activities are aimed at creating potential theatre that can be used in September. Miss Williams and Mrs Love are running class activities parallel to each other to ensure that all students have access to the same possible outcomes.
It has been so great to see Lower Sixth students in person in these last two weeks of term. In maths we have worked our way through their summer exam papers (both in school and online), identifying areas that they need to focus their summer revision on in preparation for the September exams. They’ve kicked themselves at silly slips and declared loud “oh”s as they’ve suddenly realised where they went wrong whilst also giving themselves a huge pat on the back for doing so well. Many Lower Sixth students are availing themselves of many of the amazing courses available over the summer to boost their knowledge and readiness for the UCAS process, including MAT prep courses by the Advanced Mathematics Support Programme and prep courses for Imperial University.
Our fantastic group of Year 10 girls has been working hard to identify topic areas for revisiting over the summer. We have sailed our way through algebraic fractions and slogged our way through algebraic proof in recent weeks but have saved constructions (using compasses etc to bisect angles) to do together in class in Year 11 – a tricky one to attempt online. The students have worked so well and persevering through the entire term is a great achievement.
In other news many of our best mathematicians in Years 7 and 8 were still able to enter the UKMT Junior Maths Challenge last week as, for the first time ever, the challenge was moved online. The girls thoroughly enjoyed this problem-solving, think-outside-the box, little bit different array of maths questions and we’re looking forward to many achieving certificates soon.
Enthusiasm from staff has not wavered during lockdown and teachers continue to share good ideas with each other, albeit remotely. By half-term technical issues seemed to have (mostly!) died down for students so we felt we could be more ambitious with our delivery across Microsoft Teams. One method we trialled, which was recommended by Miss Banton, was to allow students to ‘break out’ into smaller groups together. These smaller groups discuss a topic and work together, with the teacher popping in to answer questions and check understanding. Students have enjoyed the opportunity to contribute more, and often feel more confident working in smaller groups. Another tool we have used is online mini-whiteboards, suggested by Mrs Haythorne, where students enter a code and then join a virtual lesson on a website. The teacher sends out a whiteboard to them and they can all draw on them, live. This was really useful for teaching Searching and Sorting algorithms for A Level (as shown below in the gallery picture) and allowed direct feedback with students. Not as good as being able to see the whiteboards in person, but a good temporary substitute!