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The Magazine for South African Teachers

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Second Term 2020

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Volume 3 - Issue 8

Remote Learning Focus Edition


81 online two-hour training sessions including Teaching for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Windows or Android tablet training sessions @ R125 per session, per participant (VAT incl.). Visit our website www.viaafrika.com/academy or call Maria de Witt 021 4063005.


Teaching for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)

Keen to know more about 4IR?

125

R

per session per participant

BEGINNER LEVEL SESSION 1: GETTING TO THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION (4IR)* SESSION 2: AUGMENTED REALITY (AR)* SESSION 3: VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)*

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL SESSION 1: BIG DATA* SESSION 2: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)* SESSION 3: CODING*

ADVANCED LEVEL SESSION 1: ROBOTICS* SESSION 2: GENREADY FOR THE 4IR* SESSION 3: OTHER 4IR TECHNOLOGIES AND APPLICATIONS* 81 online two-hour training sessions including Teaching for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), Windows or Android tablet training sessions our website www.viaafrika.com/academy or call Maria de Witt 021 @ R125 per session, per Visit participant (VAT incl.). Visit our website www.viaafrika.com/academy or 4063005. call Maria de Witt 021 4063005.

*Awaiting SACE endorsement *Awaiting SACE endorsement and ETDP ETDPaccreditation. accreditation. and


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In this issue Editor's Letter 6 What if We Can't Go Back to School? 8 Remote Learning: Is This the New Buzzword? 11 No tech? Low tech? No problem! 14 Delightful Language Resources 17 Magnificent Maths Resources 19 Toddler Town 22 Lockdown Versus Family and School Life 24 Full STEAM Ahead 26 A Teacher's Vision of Technology-Infused Learning After the Covid-Crisis 27 In Uncertain Times, We can Help Children Through Mindfulness and Play 30 How to Help Students with a Hearing Impairment as Courses Move Online 32 Coronavirus: 14 Simple Tips for Better Online Teaching 34

Toddler Town Page 22

Delightful Language Resources Page 22 Teacha! Magazine | 5


“I miss the noise at school!” Something I never thought I would say.

My last day of teaching was a bit of an anti-climax. Prior to the schools closing nationwide, our school was shut down due to a parent who was tested positive for COVID-19. During the last week, I had to do handovers, get everything ready for my replacement and make sure that my class was on track with their work. The school was like a ghost town. No one was there. At least I got to walk out of the building on the last day of term with no marking, which was an absolute bonus. With my class plant under my arm, I looked back and just thought about this bizarre situation we find ourselves in. One of the many reasons why I love teaching is definitely the interaction and human connection. If you take kids out of school, it’s just an empty shell. From each moment I walked into school, it started. A haasbekkie grade 1 kid would greets me. The friendly secretaries would have a quick skinder and multi-task whilse dealing with parents at 7 am. There would be that quick cup of tea in the staffroom before school started and, of course, that shared frustration that bonds teachers for life - another morning meeting that could’ve been an email. And this is all before the actual teaching would start, when you see the happy faces in front of you, ready to learn! Okay, maybe it sounds like a bit of a teaching Utopia, but that is how I want to remember it! Teaching in a tiny primary school building was at first an assault on my senses. In high school, where I was teaching before the move down to grade 5, the kids spoke in an “inside voice”, they didn't run down the corridors, and there was no happy group singing - except for anthems and the school songs. And suddenly, during remote teaching, it was back to that, just when I got used to the happy noise around me! No soul. What I realised from this current experience is that teachers are not really built for remote teaching. Yes, we have stepped up and created fantastic solutions for our kids to continue learning. Yes, we have gone beyond what anyone could have imagined by the way in which we are supporting our kids. But teaching remotely, especially as a necessity, is more exhausting than being in class with our learners. My (very unscientific) theory is that teachers are able to do so much at school, and give so much of themselves every day, because their energy is constantly being

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replenished by the kids that surrounded them. It’s this energy that we feed off that keeps our passion alive. Nothing beats that 2-minute conversation with a child about a topic that they find interesting, even though you may not have any clue what they were talking about. For me, that was anything to do with sport; I’m a choir kid, sorry! Seeing a learner just get something in realtime, or even ask a silly question (maybe intentionally to make the entire class burst out in laughter) - these are some of the things that cannot easily be replicated online. If this situation continues, we must make time for these moments in our daily remote teaching routines to keep the connections going. It can’t just be all work and no play. On that note, for this edition of the Teacha! Magazine, we have decided to focus on three different aspects of home (remote) learning. The teacher experience, tech solutions that are available and easy to use and parent perspectives of how the lockdown has changed their day-to-day lives. I also added a personal piece, explaining what happened when we all of a sudden had to close our school and teach remotely (p. 8), and Fiona Beal gives insight and excellent tips to get started with remote teaching (p. 11). A huge thank you to Isabel Tarling for contributing two excellent lists of online resources for English and Maths. These will definitely help you if you’re not too sure what’s out there. Juffer from My Klaskamer always has excellent, practical ideas for foundation phase teachers and parents and you can read more about them on page 14. Ex-teacher, Emme Scholtz, runs through a day at home with her toddlers and uses every opportunity as a learning opportunity. Pamela Diesel, teacher and mother, speaks about the importance of routine to not only keep us sane, but to keep things going - I cannot imagine how tough it must be to teach your own children at home and to teach your classes remotely. Hats off to all of the teachers in South Africa! As always, we invite teachers from all over South Africa to share their ideas and innovations, tips and tricks and anything else worth sharing with us. Email us your suggestions, contributions or letters to editor@teacha.co.za.


Teacha! is a collaborative effort between South African & international teachers. We would like to thank the following contributors of this edition: Editor: Jean Vermeulen Subeditor: Ali Mills

Teacha! Resources Teacha! is a hub for South African teachers. Find and sell your original resources in our resources marketplace, engage with your colleagues in the Teacha! Helpline group on Facebook, and find news, resources, teacher tips and inspiration on our websites.

Contributors: Fiona Beal Juffer "My Klaskamer" Isabel Tarling Emme Scholtz Pamela Diesel CornĂŠl de Klerk Celri Olley Organisations: The Conversation Layout: Jean Vermeulen Teacha! Magazine is published by Snapplify (Pty) Ltd. Support South African teachers by advertising on our platforms: editor@teacha.co.za

Teacha! Jobs The leading job board for South African school-related vacancies. Schools can find and post teaching positions on our website. Set up a job alert to receive the newest vacancies in your inbox weekly.

Images: Freepik, Unsplash or provided.

SACE Points Guide on Teacha! We know how difficult it is to get to grips with the SACE CPTD system. On SACE Points Guide we try to make it easier for you by listing SACE activities all over South Africa. We also try to answer your questions regarding SACE.

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What if we can’t go back to school? Just before term 1 ended, the school where I taught had to close it’s campuses due to two families having had cases of the Covid-19 virus confirmed (which they contracted during travelling). Almost overnight, as teachers, we had to shift our teaching methods from a blended-learning model to a practical digital model. Though this was a stressful time for learners and parents alike, teachers now had to innovate to change the way in which they taught in order to make sure that quality learning could still continue. If we are not allowed to return to school after the holiday, what can we do to ensure

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that this is a less-stressful experience? Here are some things I’ve learnt during our first week of remote learning: Parents are probably more anxious than the kids and need to be supported If your school is using a lot of technology, think about this: Imagine you are assisting a teacher in your school who has never used an online platform before and how daunting it is for them to even make use of a simple tool such as Kahoot! or GSuite in general. Now, overnight, as with the teacher


you are assisting, parents are expected to be masters of these tools and to be the facilitators at home.

for additional teacher resources, the Answer Series has also unlocked all of their books for free teacher use for an entire year.

Send some how-to resources out to parents such as this handy guide for parents about using Google Classroom. I always say that happy teachers mean happy kids, and this applies to learning at home as well. If parents aren’t stressed about the tools they are needing to use, then their kids are also less likely to be stressed about using them.

Everyone is offering free education resources - make use of it.

If you have very demanding parents (as all schools have), ask them to get their kids to do the questioning and figuring out. In this way, they are not likely to fall behind and will learn during the process. For example, if a child is missing some notes needed for an assignment, I would suggest that parents let the kids post this in the online forum they are using (such as the Google Classroom). Kids can then help each other, and this also lessens the pressure on teachers to now all of a sudden be customer service or live chat agents! If you have already been teaching using online tools, your task is halved. Are you using GSuite for Education or Microsoft for Education? Then most of your work is probably online already and not on some flash drive, hard copy or your PC’s hard drive in your classroom. Now is the best time to move to the cloud. Start using Google Drive to upload your resources even if you have to scan some things in and email it to yourself to upload to the drive, that’s also fine. You probably have a Classroom setup for your kids already. If your school makes use of e-books, for example, Snapplify, kids can access their textbooks online, and it saves data by having it downloaded on their devices already. Teachers and students can also make annotations, upload resources such as videos and voice notes, and through Snapplify’s Engage platform, teachers can find 50 000+ books that are free to use. Search for readers in collections, and you will find books in many South African languages, ready to read! If you are looking

Always wanted to try out a platform to use in your class, but you weren’t sure whether you should pay for it or not? Many online education providers, publishers and content providers are allowing free use of their products at the moment. Now is the time to try it! In schools where teachers can’t always be online or assist learners remotely, these platforms will make a huge difference. Read more about Paper Video and Advantage Learn, who have both opened up their catalogues of online learning materials. Reading is fundamental, and unfortunately, we may not be able to visit our libraries to loan out books for our kids. Audible has released some excellent free audiobooks for kids to listen to. Amazing Educational Resources, a list and Facebook group that you might have seen, lists thousands of companies who have some kind of free offering for teachers. It is, however, a bit overwhelming to search through everything. For stories in African languages, also check out the Molteno Institute’s library of resources. Less is more, a routine is required. Either, kids will fly through work at home, or they will feel overwhelmed and not get through everything set up for them. Teachers need to collaborate to create a timetable of sorts that gives learners more structure during their day. Yes, Maths and Language Learning is essential, but don’t forget about the other things that schools do to help kids develop holistically. Physical education, music and art can all be taught from a distance. Just how we are encouraged to not sit in our pyjamas all day when we work from home, we should also have some expectations for our kids about their days at home. You should be up and ready by 9am, and there will be a break at 10:30 until 11:00, there will Teacha! Magazine | 9


be reading time after that, etc. It will help your children to know what to expect, just like at school! Limit the amount of work given. In class, you might assign a specific amount of work and give “the rest� as homework. Now everything is homework! With parents not always around to help, and more often than not there is only one computer in a household. Remember that families with more than one child will not be able to simultaneously be online and engaging with the lessons that you have posted.

and be available on email. Many parents might not even have access to email, so it will often work better to create a Whatsapp group with parents. You don’t have to be in it but can have a class representative parent that will ask you the questions when other parents cannot help. Plan ahead and if you must, create workpacks that can be collected at school - just be careful not to have too many kids come to school at once, as this might be against government regulations.

We are experiencing a scary and exciting time for education in South Africa. On the one hand, we are forced to innovate, which means that many teachers will forever teach Old-school will work if you give kids and differently. On the other hand, this is a trialparents a lot of guidance. Just like you would and-error phase, this has never been done provide a substitute teacher with a very before on this scale, and we must all try our in-depth explanation of what is expected of best to make it a success. Only time will tell them while you are away, you need to do if the measures and effort that we put in will the same for your learners. Redesign your pay off, but one thing is sure: parents will paper-based activities keeping in mind that have a new appreciation for teachers! your learners may not have any assistance at home. Make use of Whatsapp with parents Jean Vermeulen Not all learners have access to the internet and devices to learn.

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Remote Learning is this the new buzzword? Will education ever be the same again? In South Africa, as with many countries, we have been thrust into sudden isolation for 21 days due to Covid-19. There has been little or no time to prepare ourselves or our learners for remote learning should the lock down prove to be longer than expected. As teachers, we’re feeling uneasy! How can we keep our learners learning? What strategies and technology tools can we use to take our traditional classes online? How can teachers learn to use these tools? What about our vast majority of learners who are living in homes that are struggling to put food on the table and just survive - let alone provide devices or afford Internet access? It’s a time for creative thinking about remote learning. Could this be the jumpstart to changing the face of education so that the haves and the have-nots will have exposure to equal opportunities in the future?

seeing a significant change in the majority of our schools. Surely things have to change now?! What does an ideal remote learning classroom look like? This would be a virtual classroom where pedagogy, content and technology work hand-in-hand as the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Framework theory suggests.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela Interim solutions are temporary There are thankfully interim solutions being prepared by the Department of Basic Education such as lessons via television and radio. These will be of great help to the majority of our learners. But let’s fast forward and think about an ideal remote classroom set-up that could become an important part of our future. We’ve been living in the digital age for a long time now, and we are not

Technology can never replace the teacher. But in difficult times like these, it has to step into the gap and take the place of the traditional classroom. In an ideal classroom setup, the teacher has to disseminate lessons and materials that will keep the learners engaged and get them learning and creating. Teachers then need to review these lessons and give feedback. This process needs to be replicated online where the motivating presence of the teacher is also felt. Teacha! Magazine | 11


How can this be achieved? Schools need to make decisions As soon as COVID-19 is over and we’re all back at school, schools need to decide on an online learning hub that keeps everything together in an exciting, creative way. For example, if you want to go the Microsoft route you would need Office 365 and Teams to achieve this remote learning experience. If you want to go the Google route you would need Google Classroom, Google Hangouts Meet and GSuite. If you want to go the Apple route you would need Apple’s offerings. My school is a Google school, so I will talk from a Google point of view. Putting remote learning into practice Google Classroom is a great way in which to keep a class of learners together. At my school even the little Grade 1s catch on to using Google Classroom within weeks – it is very straight forward. The teacher can create assignments, even differentiated lessons, and easily distribute lessons and materials that will keep the learners learning, engaged and creating. The learners are able to turn in their lessons to the teacher via Google Classroom. Teachers can mark these assignments in Google Classroom using the gradebook and return the submissions to the learners with feedback and marks. Everything works seamlessly with the Google Suite and other connected apps. There is a chat feature where learners can ask questions and discuss, and the whole experience gives learners the feeling that they are part of an online community. If schools have already been doing blended lessons using Google Classroom, it is very easy for them to continue doing this remotely,

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almost immediately, provided of course, that the learners have access to internet and devices at home. Everyone concerned knows what to do. The teacher could then use Google’s Hangouts Meet - Google’s video conferencing tool, to meet with the class virtually. The simplest version of this process would be where the learners at home do their work on paper, and simply take a photo of what they have done with a parent’s cell phone and upload it to Google Classroom. What could a remote learning lesson look like? In a Grade 7 History lesson, for example, a teacher could create a tutorial using Screencastify. This would form part of the assignment created in Google Classroom. The teacher could then allow for differentiated learning by providing a Choiceboard for the learners to present their research. Another useful graphic organiser I learnt about recently is called a Playlist. Instead of a Choiceboard, learners are able to work from a playlist as part of a selfpaced, personal learning program. When their assignments are completed, the learner is able to reflect on the lesson in a blog post using www.blogger.com, which you can learn how to set up here. Learners can also provide an oral reflection using the wonderful tool, Flipgrid. Teachers can even create assessments by using Forms or one of the free online Quiz programs to check understanding.


To upskill yourself in Google for remote learning, visit Google’s Teach’s Home site. For a Microsoft approach to Remote Learning take a look at Koen Timmer’s blog post on remote learning with Microsoft tools. How do I get started with Remote Learning? The tech teachers in the #ZAEdu community of teachers using technology in South Africa have offered to help schools in their communities free of charge to prepare themselves for remote teaching and learning once schools reopen. You can find out more about this on the #ZAedu site. The #ZAedu community is also petitioning cell phone network providers to zero-rate more educational sites for the sake of education in South Africa. Please consider joining and signing the petition.

South Africa. With a lot of creative thinking thrown into the mix, Remote Learning can become an opportunity for all. We’re in this together. Fiona Beal

Let’s all turn COVID-19 into a magnificent opportunity for change in education in

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No tech? Low tech? No problem! When I think of low tech options for teaching, I try to consider options that will not break the bank, that parents can make use of at home and are options that may be reasonable to try during load-shedding blocks. Technology has become a part of modern-day teaching. Affordability, accessibility, load-shedding and online teaching due to the recent call for social distancing have all become added realities. Juffer "My Klaskamer" provides some practical and easy ideas to try out in your classroom or to offer as suggestions to those who teach from home: Reading and Writing: Some days, we have no tech days. In my own classroom, I encourage learners to leave spaces between words by means of popsicle sticks decorated with small astronauts if you will. They hold onto the laminated picture (using clear packaging tape) and slide it from word to word to leave enough room until it becomes a natural process for them. The same popsicle sticks can be used to slide under text as they read or to cover words read. Examples of these methods can be recorded and posted on a class webpage to access from home. Recorded, basic guidelines, would encourage learners and parents to follow through at home. Fold a blank sheet of paper repeatedly lengthwise in half until you have equally spaced lines to use as a page to demonstrate patterns and handwriting on. Younger learners initially learn to write on lines in this manner too. Have them touch the tops and bottoms of each fold as if these folds are lines in a regular workbook. Highlight every second line in workbooks to show learners where the main body of letters should go. You could also use the 14 | Teacha! Magazine


well-known cat image in the margin (to show where the top, body and tail of letters would go) or use the image of grass, clouds and soil. Tall letters reach for the clouds and other letters will dig into the soil. Draw your images in the margin of a regular sheet and use a photocopier to transfer it to transparency sheets. Cut the strips off and have learners clip it to the margin in their books. Of course, you could merely draw the pictures with permanent markers on transparency sheets or laminate paper margins to reuse daily. In my classroom, the cutoffs strips of laminated or manilla sheets are kept in a tin as makeshift bookmarks and to jot down

a spelling word or quick calculation with a white board marker. Cotton wool or colourful pom poms glued to the caps of these markers, act as impromptu erasers – which always leave young learners in awe. If you don’t have a white board in your classroom, you can also write on windows or some laminated countertops. As we become more environmentally conscious and try to work paperless, technology can help learners to review their work on an electronic device. The thought of using technology to teach, can be overwhelming – yet also comforting in the current times of social distancing.

Reviewing Classwork Remotely:

Spelling:

Maths:

A very simple way to review what learners know, is to send them a picture to download electronically and edit through markup features or add text to the image (using a smartphone, tablet or computer) and get them to send it back. Create fill-in-the-blank worksheets, print it and take a picture or take a picture of an image (such as the parts of a fish) and have the learners edit the image with their answers on their devices.

Cut large letters from cereal boxes. Keep them in a container and ask learners to build their spelling words one by one. Show them how to take a picture with a smartphone or tablet and to record it by sending the pictures to your email address or an app.

The same idea can be used for numbers and representations by means of various counters. Provide a bin full of reusable counters and flash cards to answer or write the answers on laminate cutoffs beside the flash cards. In a similar fashion, you can also provide Scrabble tiles and ask learners to add up the points per word, use letter stamps on old paper or use magnetic letters on metal filing cabinets and baking sheets. These items are reusable and can last for months – if not for years.

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Creating your remote class: A document camera would be a simple way to project or record information from a book, but not everyone can have this feature available. An inexpensive way to record a discussion on a piece of literature, poetry, science, etc. is to use a tablet or smartphone mounted above the specific page. Tie your phone to a ruler with an elastic or use a selfie stick, have it rest on a box and weigh it down with books to secure your device. Now you can take pictures or record a video to share via email or on the platform of your choice – albeit a blog, social media or a messaging app.

Make use of technology available to you: If you would like to use a secure, private platform to connect with your learners or families, consider an application such as SeeSaw – which allows you to communicate with families of the children you add. You can assign activities, load documents, share videos and photographs or voice notes. An app called TinyTap, allows you to create simple, customized and interactive activities where learning happens through playing games. You can invite learners to learn their spelling words or review their math – whilst monitoring who has done so. Use the activities to teach new skills and add a game feature to assess what they know. My learners use an app called Writing Wizard to type, record and trace their own spelling words. You can do this in any language – as you record your own voice and then trace the letters. Once the respective words are traced, colourful pictures are automatically added. It is very entertaining and 16 | Teacha! Magazine

motivating to learners of the various ages. For English spelling words, provide the words to your learners and have them review them by typing the list on spellingtraining.com. From there they are able to test themselves by means of a word search and a variety of games. This website has the added benefit of reading the words to ensure that the learner reviews the pronunciation as well. If you like to send homework electronically, you have the option of sharing a link to your customised list to whomever may need it – parents and learners alike. On websites such as SENteacher.org, you are can create simple illustrated flashcards of spelling words and concepts through the AAC (Augmentative and alternative communication) feature. The symbols or images can be copied and used in your worksheets – to ensure uniformity. Use the square flash cards as flash cards or print double to be used in a memory game or a game of snap.

SENteacher.org also provides the option of creating your own word searches – arranging words horizontally, vertically or diagonally, in various fonts or colours. Download various word search versions of the same words by clicking on the randomize button, save it to your computer or share the worksheets with your learners to complete digitally or by hard copy. On the same website, you are able to scramble words, create pattern tracing sheets, label skeletons, create word spinners and even focus on mathematics – concepts such as time, calculations and counting. Whatever your circumstance or level of comfort with technology may be, you have options to try a variety of ways to introduce homework, new work or work missed to your learners and their parents. Recordings will offer the option to reference quick explanations, and technology provides an alternative way to review and test knowledge. Try it. It could spark new ideas for the way you teach in future.


Delightful Language Resources As language teachers we have the most fantastic array of digital tools and resources available for every part of the curriculum. I’ve listed a few but there are literally hundreds of thousands I haven’t listed.

As language teachers we have the most fantastic array of digital tools and resources available for every part of the curriculum. I’ve listed a few but there are literally hundreds of thousands I haven’t listed. Here are a few of my favorite: Reading and Viewing • JK Rowling has made her books available for teachers to use for the next few months as open source readers! How about setting up Harry Potter Readathons? • If you’d like African stories told in African languages, the very best place to go is Nal’ibali. Their stories are incredible and if you feel like donating to help them create more, well that’ll just be dandy! • Reading for children 12 and under could not be easier with the EPIC library. • Newsela is brilliant for content and teaching resources. Although the content is based on the American school curriculum,they’ve made their resources free for all to use! • CommonLit is free for teachers to use

and what an amazing reading resource it is. It doesn’t seem to be available in all regions, but their ideas for teaching reading at all levels are fantastic! • If little ones are still learning to read, the wonderful program, Reading Eggs, is available on the Apple Store and Google Play. Listening and Speaking • Getting learners to listen to each other and comment online is another skill altogether. There are different tools you can use. Padlet is one – they can leave a note, a video recording or a voice recording depending on what you ask for. • Podcasting is a fantastic tool to develop learners’ listening and speaking skills. I love Chris Hitchcock and Amy Presley’s Power of Podcasting for Teaching and Learning presentation. The New York Times also produced these great lesson plans on how to produce podcasts. Your learners can even make podcasts using WhatsApp recordings and share it to WhatsApp groups or similar apps. Teacha! Magazine | 17


• Then there’s Audible's incredible library of podcasts and audiobooks that they have made available for free. What a tool to transform listening and speaking! Writing and Presenting • Toontastic is an inventive Google app that allows learners to create the most magical stories. • ePals Classroom Exchange encourages learners to write creatively in their home and/or additional languages, conduct research and gather information about other cultures and languages. • Get your learners journaling with Penzu or Diary, or blogging about their time in isolation with EduBlogs or Blogger. They generally only need a Gmail account to get going. If you don’t have access to the internet all of the time, consider creating templates for them to keep a diary in, for example, Google Docs/Slides or Microsoft Word/PowerPoint. When they connect online they can email these to you or share it to your Google Drive. • Creating cartoons and comic strips can be done on tablets, phones or laptops with Bubblr or MakeBeliefComix. You can also download the templates and send them via WhatsApp. Language Structures and Conventions • If you’re looking for lesson ideas and specifically information on Grammar and all things Language, pop on over to the HyperDoc Drive. It’s brimming with diamonds, pearls and rubies! • Microsoft created a trove of online tools for Language teachers to explore. • When you’re teaching Language Structures and Conventions, also have a look at Hypothes.is. It’s a great tool for teaching reading but can just as well be used for teaching parts of speech etc. Learners work together to annotate a web page or text you send them. You can also share documents on Google Docs and can comment, your learners can then annotate this in a similar way.

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Assessment • When you’re presenting online lessons, there’s a certain distancing that takes place and it’s difficult to know if the kids are actually paying attention. There are different ways to keep them engaged. • If you’re pre-recording videos, consider uploading your video to YouTube. If you have a Gmail address you can make your own YouTube channel. You can load your videos as UNLISTED , which means that only your learners can see it (if you have sent them the direct link to it). Then make use of EdPuzzle and add questions into the actual video that your children have to answer before they can continue watching. • Another way is to create your presentation in Google Slides for example and then use Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype to present it live. If you want to check that your learners are paying attention, you can make use of PearDeck. PearDeck allows you to build in different interactive activities to assess if your learners are with you and how their learning is progressing. • You can also assess their learning with Google Forms – share the link at the end of the video. • Language teachers can make use of Kaizena for assessments - this is great as they can leave notes on all sorts of platforms, video, Pdfs or text. Language teaching can be truly innovative in this time. Think along cross-disciplinary lines and incorporate pedagogies like projectbased learning. Use skills learners already have like selfies and video recording – let’s face it, this generation knows how to film themselves. Think of ways to use these skills for learning. Isabel Tarling


Magnificent Online Maths Teaching Tools Let’s look at some wonderful online and offline Maths tools that you can create as a teacher or that learners can download and use offline. In this post I look at tools you can use to create presentations (online and offline) and tools to encourage learners to think out loud and express their Maths problem solving processes. Especially where learners are still developing language proficiency it is crucial that we create opportunities for them to speak and express their thinking to also develop language skills. A word of caution before we start: be weary of online apps and tools that sell ‘educational value’ packaged in bright colours and flashy lights. Maths isn’t Vegas! We’re teaching concepts and higher order thinking, and some apps really only ever work at lower order thinking and are based on endless repetition. Make sure that the concepts you’re wanting to teach are the focus and that the app is age and grade appropriate before sending learners to explore it.

Online Teaching Tools There are thousands of apps and online resources I could include that would fill this blog, but I wanted to sift through the oceans and pick the ones that I know work and can be trusted. • For South African teachers and parents, the GreenShoots team provides Grade 3 – 9 curriculum aligned content that learners can practise at home, complete with self-marking online assessments. I’ve researched their process and encourage all schools, teachers and learners to investigate this excellent home-grown resource! • Siyavula provides Maths and Science content and practice for Grade 4 – 12 learners and teacher support. I was involved in creating parts of their Life Science units and can attest to the rigorous process with which these resources were created! Some of their practise resources and content are free to use. • There’s always IXL Math Practice and Sushi Monster if you want the basics.

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• If you’re teaching in the United States, don’t miss out – have a look at Delta Maths! I have the personal assurance from their management that the product will remain free for teachers to use! It does take a while to open though – a looong while. However the product is amazing and all high school teachers will find it useful. • Teaching learners to solve word sums or story problems? Try Thinking Blocks. It visualises Maths learning and problem solving. • Geometry introductions can be done with Slice It! I wish I had this when I taught a few years back! • Algebra Nation is a great resource and has just decided to offer its resources

free of charge to teachers and learners until 31 August. You can sign up on their website. • Also try Numbers, an online app that lets you make engaging spreadsheets which can integrate with offline versions. • Lastly, there’s Visnos, Desmos and GeoGebra – these awesome resources take some getting used to but once you know how to use it, you just can’t believe that you could ever work without it. There are literally hundreds of YouTube video tutorials on using these – it’s well worth your time to get to know these awesome tools! • Add on: I’m adding SeeSaw Maths which a few teachers said they can’t do without!

Presenting Lessons

• Recording lessons can be fun and exciting. Here are a few great tools to help you in this process. • Use an online screencast recorder like Screencastify or Screencast-O-Matic. I make use of Screencast-O-Matic and download the offline version so i am able to use it even when the internet is down. • If you’re making recordings, don’t forget the built-in recorder in Microsoft’s PowerPoint – you can make your own offline screencast with relative ease. • The thing to remember when making a screencast is sound. We can have all the right visuals but if the sound is terrible the whole thing turns into a flop. Make 20 | Teacha! Magazine

• •

sure you are not in an empty, echoey room and that the peripheral noises are at a minimum. Perhaps it means making screencasts by bribing the rest of the house to keep quiet or waiting till everyone is asleep? One of the challenges Maths teachers face is using the correct script for Maths. There are a number of paid-for options but also many free plugins and downloadable Mathtype tools that you can download. Some even recognise hand-drawn figures and turn them into Math scripts. Give SoftFamous’s MathType a try – so far it’s free. Presenting lessons on a whiteboard is another challenge. Teachers want to explain calculations and capture the recording as if they are in their class. Google’s Jamboard for Education is amazing for this. Just make sure you’re using the Education version and you’ll have free access. Also try ShowMe.com – you can use 5x free versions before you have to start buying these. One of my blog readers asked how she could record herself while using the whiteboard. You can use your favourite Screencast programme for this. It will have the option for an in-camera insert then record the whiteboard and yourself on the screen.


Offline Teaching Tools

Encouraging Engagement

• Especially for the early years Maths class, visit Fizzy’s Lunch Lab Fresh Pick and download the games to their device. • The Maths Learning Center is fantastic for offline work. Learners have to be in a wifi environment to download it to their devices but can then work offline from then onwards. You can create paper-based tasks and they can solve it on their devices. • Another downloadable tool is TERC’s Inspire Data. Specifically look at the way data changes over time – your learners will love this! You can use some of this offline and some online. • Don’t forget to look at all the offline tools on Microsoft’s suite. They’ve done extensive work to load Maths scripts and added voice-to-text features for learners with different learning needs. You can also use the translate feature to speak in one language and it will type in another. In South Africa it’s only available in Afrikaans for the time being but I heard they’re working on Swahili, Zulu and isiXhosa at the moment! • Also remember that you can use the Google Suite documents in an offline version as long as you open it when you’re in a wifi environment.

• Friends can play Maths games together using MathwithYourFriends. com – what a stunning website! • I really like AwwApp – the Web Whiteboard that learners can use together to explain their thinking to each other or to solve a problem together. You do start paying after a while though. • Another great tool to use is FlipGrid. You create a grid (like an online class) and invite your learners to the class. When they solve a problem they explain how they solved the problem using the video feature on their phone. They upload the video they made to the flipgrid question you posed. Then you have all your learners sharing their video explanations and developing their language skills. • Another great tool to support collaboration is Padlet. Padlet allows for video, voice and text sharing.

Isabel Tarling is an ICT Integration specialist, holds a PhD in Education Technologies and Teacher Professional Development from UCT, and is director of Limina’s learning design division. Her extensive experience working with teachers from all phases, subjects and backgrounds, directly impacts the handson and change-driven teacher professional development courses she develops. Visit www.limina.co.za for more information about Limina's professional development courses and services.

A last word of caution: make sure you and learners are not signing up to apps that collect their details so thirdparty marketers can take advantage of them. One GREAT way to avoid sharing your email unnecessarily is to use 10minutemail.com. I sign up to test apps with 10minutemail and avoid all the spam!

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Toddler Town

An ex-teacher stay-at-home mom reflects on learning during the lockdown. For some or other reason my 3 year old daughter has realised that she can be “bored” at home and that when she feels “bored” she automatically feels hungry. Between preparing snacks and activities to pass the time, I can't help but feel the need to be teaching my child something. I can’t replace what school means to her or the social aspect thereof, but I can tell you that she has now started to bond with her 7-month-old brother in a whole new way. So in these moments, she is learning the importance of sharing toys and time, as well as love and patience. 22 | Teacha! Magazine

I wish that I could tell you that I have all my days sorted with games and activities for my kids at home. Being a stay-at-home mom and an ex-teacher, my mind is constantly racing with ideas of how or what I should be doing to make everyday learning an experience. Here is a look into our current lives during this time of uncertainty in our country: For me routine and structure are important. Children feel safe and secure knowing what comes next. A daily routine with picture cards is a fun way to visualize the


daily activities for your toddler. Visual aids are important at this age. We start the day talking about what day it is, often using a song as it is a nice way to remember the days of the week. Then we look at the weather outside. We have made a chart together and daily, we put the button on the correct pictures. I like working according to relevant themes when I plan activities for the day or week. After breakfast, we have some inside free play and then a movement or music lesson is always a fun activity. I try to focus a bit more on fine motor skills and do construction play in the morning like building blocks or puzzles. Playing with blocks is great as you can practice patterns or colours. Clay is also a nice activity to do in the morning - let your child make something which relates to your chosen topic for the week. You can also add pasta shells or stones to the clay box for some variation and tactile differentiation. Messy play can also be done in the mornings, this can include rice scooping, sticker pasting, box construction with odd boxes at home with some glue, finger painting or brush painting. (A cleaner option of painting is giving your child a bowl of water and a paintbrush and having them paint the wall or the floor.) I recommend keeping activities practical at a young age as kids have a limited attention span. After messy play, my children normally have a nap. Books can be read around nap time. It is always a nice way of calming them down. Again, reading or telling a story related to your chosen topic is good for reinforcement and allows you the time and structure to have discussions with each other. After lunch it is always nice to go outside. I normally get my children to jump on the trampoline or play on the jungle gym. Some fresh air and physical movement is always good. What has been great fun is waterplay with some bubbles, spoons and cups for pouring. By filling a bucket of water with some dish soap, you can get your children to wash their toys or dolls clothes. I purchased second-hand stainless steel pots and pans for a DIY mud kitchen outside, which my youngster really enjoys. Shaving cream on a

flat surface is also fun for kids and you can have them draw some topic related things. Don’t use all of it or else your husband might get upset! An obstacle course is nice for them to do both outside or inside and you can use whatever you have on hand to make a makeshift or permanent course. This can help with motor-functions and you can also play games that work on listening skills as you direct your child to complete different sections of the course. Another thing that we do daily is making use of action cards. Print or create some action cards such as doing ten star jumps, touching your toes and then your head. I have folded the cards and have put them in a jar to be used as needed throughout the day. Later in the afternoon I have allowed for some television whilst I cook dinner. Often afterwards we will take the kids outside for a walk and then come back “ravenous� for supper, which we always try to eat together. After dinner, it is bathtime. Bathtime can be made fun by adding some glow sticks in the water or adding some bubble bath. Take this opportunity to teach your kids about floating and sinking and even the basics of water safety. After bath time we read stories. We take the time to reflect on the day, asking what has been the best part of each day. It is always lovely to give my child a good memory before she falls asleep. Bedtime is at 7 pm. The learning opportunities are endless when it comes to teaching children. It is in these younger years when you start building a foundation and a love for learning. It is in these younger years that as a parent, you are being watched constantly. How you talk and how you act and react is important. You may feel frazzled and empty at the end of a frustrating day as you try to work and parent, but remember: You are their comfort, provider and greatest role model. You are doing great. You are enough. Emme Scholtz Teacha! Magazine | 23


Lockdown Versus Family and School Life

I am a mom of four boys, and I am a teacher. As I am sure you well know, this lockdown and isolation - as much as it is crucial - is not the easiest of tasks.

ahead. Besides the work responsibilities and homework, the house still needed to be cleaned, and meals still needed to be prepared - and guess what boys, you will have to clean up after yourselves!

To not get too downhearted, we have to look for the positive and strive to be productive After a great deal of negotiation and arguing, within our own lives and our homes. The big the chores, duties and academic schedules question is, where do we begin? were decided upon. We also had to discuss how to build our immune systems and stay Personally, for my family, this has been clean in terms of handwashing, coughing difficult as we live a hectic life in general. and sneezing. We also discussed that we With four active boys, and my husband’s and (they) cannot eat everything that we have my own work responsibilities, our home life in the first week. With four growing boys has often come in second. Previously, not and a darling husband, the latter was harder much was sorted, or spring cleaned. There than you think! They open the fridge every were not many Sunday lunches made at five minutes, hoping that some ready-made home, and we did not have many relaxing gourmet meal is prepared and waiting for weekends either. them to devour. I have a varsity student, a Matric, a grade 10 and a grade 2 learner in my household, and with the addition of me being a teacher - for obvious reasons, academics are still a priority. Upon hearing of the changes being made in our country, we held a family meeting to work out the logistics of the times

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As a family, we decided to try hard to stick to a daily routine. Please don’t get me wrong - I am flexible and believe that 21 days with 6 people in a ‘not so big house’ calls for some movement in the routine.


So here goes, a day in the life of isolation: Generally, we wake up between 7 - 8 am and start our day together with breakfast (washing our own dishes). We try to eat each meal together as a family, at a set table. Next, everyone gets their bathroom and individual hygiene routines done. We take our vitamins and drink some lemon, honey and ginger water. By 9:30 am, each has made their own bed and completed their dedicated chores (of course, Mom has the most – just saying). At 9:30/10 am - depending on how much moaning and reminding Mom has had to do to get everyone to get going on their chores academic work begins. At this stage, everyone (except for my 7-year-old) works out their own schedule for the day - what needs to be done and how many breaks are needed (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Planning is essential to stay on top of our workloads. During their breaks, the boys do a variety of activities which include anything from skipping to lifting weights, gaming, playing the guitar, reading or playing irritating tricks on each other. While they keep themselves busy, my husband and I like to meet on the bench outside for a quick cup of coffee or tea and a chat. We have a snack break at 12 pm. I try to share a sweet treat (packet of biscuits/ banana bread) each day between the 6 of us. NO SECONDS! (Not for 21 days, anyway.) By 12:30, we are all back to the grind for a quick hour before lunch. Lunch is a good hour and a half and at 15:00, the boys’ "favourite" time begins: Family clean-up, sorting out, throwing away and fixing up.

up, go for a walk around the garden, play soccer or cricket outside, listen to the news, have a picnic lunch or dinner under the stars. Learn about the birds in your garden, do gardening, bake, make paper aeroplanes, build a kite, talk to the kids, talk to your spouse, make plans, and come up with ideas. Let there be hope. Each day, as a family, we write what we have been grateful for that day and then also what we would like to do when the lockdown is over. Each slip of paper is put into 2 different jars. When all is done and dusted, we will have a celebratory dinner and go through each sheet of paper and make some memories. 10 lessons that we, as a family, have already learnt from this experience: • Talk to each other more. • Respect each other and our differences. • Learn a great deal more about each other. • Ration our food and eat less. • Learn new skills • Laugh a lot. • Work as a team. • Learn to appreciate the simple things in life. • Stress less. • Learn to be grateful for what we have and be mindful about others that have far less. The question is: Is this experience easy? The answer is: No!

It will take effort, arguments, discussions and working together to get through this time. However, we need to look at all of this in a By 17:00, we usually are done, and this positive light. Allow yourselves, as a family allows for free time before dinner at 19:00. and individuals to find the real you and each After dinner, we end the day with chores for other. Let time help us heal and do things those who need to still complete them. More that we never had time to do before this! free-time begins after duties are done. We Take some time to browse the internet and may even add a game or two some nights look for online courses, books and shows. or build the puzzles from Granny that have We are lucky that we have so much of the been sitting in the cupboards forever! world at our fingertips, even being locked up inside! This schedule is not set in stone, but I do feel that some sort of routine is essential Buckle up South Africans and stay at home! for some ‘normality.’ In saying this, though, spontaneity is also healthy. Change things Pamela Diesel Teacha! Magazine | 25


Full STEAM Ahead

STEAM aims at developing 21st-century skills in order to equip pupils for the future. The world as we know it is ever-changing and we as educators must ensure that our pupils have the tools necessary to tackle the unknown with confidence. Numerous schools are boarding the STEAM train to ensure that their pupils move with the times.

Stop the train… What is STEAM you might ask? STEAM is an educational approach that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics to engage pupils in the learning process. Pupils get the opportunity to learn hands-on, not through sitting behind a desk between four walls. They get the chance to learn essential skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, thinking outside the box, curiosity, resilience, resourcefulness and confidence to name but a few. Resources and ideas for STEAM lessons are countless. It is as easy as typing the words “STEAM activities” into the Google search box and voila… You can pick and choose. The website Left Brain Craft Brain provides one with 28 days of STEM and STEAM activities. This website focuses on relevant, real-life themes and the activities are suitable for children of all ages. Some of the activities even have free, printable worksheets, learner resources and lesson plans. Here are some of the activities: • Create a collaborative mural using shapes, patterns and colour (see circlepainting.org for more ideas) • Construct a Rubber Band Car • Make Box Lid Mazes • Make a structure you can balance on one finger (or on your nose) • Make a Working Heart Model

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• Creating the Olympic Flame in a Bottle • Crime Scene Science Lab Lesson • Wood Bending Bracelet – Craft, Magic or Science? • Egg Painting with Vinegar Prim-Ed developed STEM Project boxes with 28 project cards. These boxes are available for every grade. Each project card contains the following: • • • • •

A task focusing on a realistic problem Criteria for pupils to follow A list of suggested materials needed Design process steps to guide the pupils An illustration to engage and motivate pupils

For some teachers, finding the time to incorporate STEAM into the timetable can present a problem, but most activities can easily be incorporated into existing Mathematics, Art or English lessons. All it takes is a bit of planning and creativity to tweak existing STEAM activities to fit into your existing lesson plans. So, what are you waiting for? Hop aboard the STEAM train and create a teaching environment which is fun and engaging and equips our pupils for the future. All you need is Google and a little bit of creativity to stimulate the minds of upcoming groundbreaking entrepreneurs and scientists. Cornél de Klerk Editor’s note: Though this issue focuses on Remote Learning and Teaching, we think that this is a valuable resource that can be used at home.


A Teacher's Vision of Technology-Infused Learning After The Covid-Crisis

I have been an educationalist since 1999. My ’raison d’etre’ when it comes to teaching is reinforced by the following quote from the character Tiffany Aching from I shall Wear Midnight by the late Sir Terry Pratchett: “I want a proper school, sir, to teach reading and writing and most of all thinking, sir, so people can find what they are good at, because someone doing what they like is always an asset to any country, and too often people never find out until it’s too late.”

“Learning is about finding out who you are, what you are, where you are and what you are standing on and what you are good at and what’s over the horizon, and well, everything. It’s about finding the place where you fit.” I became a teacher out of necessity. I remained a teacher because I am making a difference. My classes have changed a lot over the decades - from rural-based private schooling to middle-income private schooling and now, in a top-tier private school. Having taught (and still teaching) in Limpopo Province, my students and I have had to be creative when it came to the unique challenges posed by our milieu. A shift in the weather - incorporating technology into the classroom Integrating technology on a formal basis happened to me whilst teaching Grade 7 English Home Language and Natural Sciences. By introducing BYOD (bring your own device) programmes in my classes, we were able to integrate these two subjects into one; which we decided to refer to as Scinglish jokingly. From then onwards, my students and I lived in a bubble where technology was used as a learning tool and made their thinking and learning visible. Our methods, however, were not always

received with open arms; this was evident when we launched our first digital Science Fair (iKnowScience). We were allocated a space in our local mall in which to exhibit our various displays. One of the “new technologies” that we utilised was the use of QR codes on the learners’ posters. Parents and mall-goers could access inquiry-based learning videos of the students’ science projects - which at this time was unheard of as we were a bit ahead of the times! Google Classroom was my next discovery which I implemented in a desperate attempt to ensure that my Grade 8 and 9 classes were ready for their year-end exams. As I had joined these classes only halfway through the year, Google Classroom enabled me to measure the learners’ progress and understanding and give bespoke feedback to support and grow my students’ skills and understanding. Following these changes and the willingness to change, I was tasked by my school to run the Integrated Studies Programme, where subjects joined together in inquiry-based tasks and projects. I was delighted at the challenge - but this also became one of the most trying times of my career as I had never experienced such a wave of changeresistance (from my fellow teachers) in my life. It is from these experiences that I wish to share my findings and vision of the New Normal in SA Education (albeit from a private school point of view):

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A 3-Tiered Approach to Change in SA Education We are facing two distinct paradigms in education at the moment: • Remote Teaching during Emergency Situations • Continued Technology-Infused Teaching & Learning Programmes I believe that we have a unique opportunity here to lay the foundations for a more permanent change in how we teach and how our students learn. Technology integration in teaching and learning is often grossly misunderstood. The first thing most schools do, when onboarding the use of technology in their schools, is buy tablets with pre-loaded content on them. The content is mostly based on either online learning platforms (where no educator is required, and learning is self-driven) or synchronous learning programmes (online teaching with a tutor/mentor online at a specific time). Frequently, these schools also buy access to online textbooks which are rarely implemented and used optimally. Personally, I found that when using technology in learning, it should be a natural part of the learning process, and never an add-on - as it is vital that it is not just included because of its ‘cool-factor’. The following approach in times of high stress and no (or limited) access was thus considered:

account before thinking about introducing Bloom’s Taxonomy. So our first-tier focus is on providing connections on a humanlevel by ensuring that our students in these vulnerable communities have access to food, water and medical care. The next layer is ensuring that the learners have access to mentoring or counselling to deal with stress, anxiety and grief. Sometimes I have found that my students are a part of child-headed households, which requires a whole different set of priorities than providing online lessons. Only after the above-mentioned has come into being can online learning be implemented, assuming that there is both school and community support regarding access. Schools can provide afternoon or evening classes online or choose to discard traditional homework and replace it with student-driven online learning after hours. Examples of this can include something such as integrated studies, where two subjects join together to ensure skills and concepts are consolidated - in doing so, saving time - which is a scarce commodity already. Another idea can be to make use of flipped integrated lessons and inquiry-based tasks every week. Students can work in tutor groups or independently - completing consolidation tasks online in their own time while receiving support and feedback from teachers who will be measuring for mastery in understanding and application. The Second Tier: Remote Academic Support

This Second Tier can take the form of teachers taking the core of the curriculum The First Tier: Emotional & Social Support and content already mastered to create two before Academic Support types of learning spaces. When in a shortterm situation (1-2 weeks) of crisis-basedThe fact is that in South Africa there are remote teaching, it is advised that learning students who live in vulnerable communities. programmes are not overly structured, and Their needs will not be academic instead guided by the student. (immediately) as it is more critical to ensure emotional and social support here first. No This can mean the inclusion of Choice one can be expected to learn anything when Boards in either topic for learning, or format in a high-stress, fight-or-flight mode as it is of creating final products for mastery physically impossible for the brain to access measurement. Teachers can use known higher-order thinking needed for learning aspects (in our case - Term 1 content and when survival is a priority. It is essential skillsets) included in activities that can be to take Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs into easily performed at home on platforms 28 | Teacha! Magazine


already known to students. No new platforms should be introduced here. Students have enough to deal with as it is and it is crucial to put into consideration that your new ideas can intrude on how various households are run. Using choice boards for how learning is done, giving multiple opportunities for contact with teachers and relaxed due dates etc. can be a better way of getting everyone settled in and used to this new way of learning. Another idea to keep in mind is the value of reflection. Incorporating a session for reflection at the end of a task/learning experience can shape the planning for the next session. Including reflective practices can foster buy-in from those involved and I have actually found that my students take ownership of their learning. Reflection is an effective way of finding workarounds for challenges experienced in the past week’s learning that teachers may not have been aware of. Parents may also feel reassured that their circumstances are recognised and are more likely to become more supportive as a result.

basis with minimal effort or added workload on either side of the learning setting. • Bespoke pre-completion feedback that drives growth and learning simultaneously • Post completion feedback that means much more than a percentage, speaking into the next task and improving skill sets and understanding exponentially. • A bigger picture of the whole learning process of each student becomes not only visible, but measurable. Would you rather know that a student did not master 40% of the work (60% for a test) or that they have mastered specific concepts through understanding and application while other skills need more refinement? Feedback must be specific and include measures that need to be taken to ensure a 100% mastery.

I would hope that we can move away from industrial revolution-type thinking when strategising the next step in education. We have an opportunity here. Let’s seize the moment and lead our students into a new experience where their voice and choice Third Tier: Continued Technology-Infused helps them learn in a way that makes sense Teaching & Learning Programmes to them. Giving them the tools to excel where they live and think and help them Once teachers and students have figure out where their strengths lie. upskilled and explored a variety of technological infusions, they can start Imagine a school system that helps students working on implementing these on a more identify their reason for being and helps to permanent basis in their everyday teaching. design their learning around that! Implementing these changes has the potential to herald the most significant shift I end off with a last Terry Pratchett quote in thinking in education. that guides my teaching-learning-journey every day: When we shift education planning and strategies away from measuring memory “I found where I fit, and I would like everybody through standardised testing and exams, else to find theirs.” we open up a spectrum of mastery measurement that is usually lost or hidden - Tiffany Aching: I Shall Wear Midnight under the banner of ‘continuous assessment tasks’. Celri Olley When we shift from assessment mindsets to a mastery-measurement mindset, we accomplish the following: • Opportunity to scaffold learning for support and extension on an individual

This article originally appeared on Celri Olley's blog, Learning Biome. Do yourself a favour and visit her blog for many excellent resources that will help you not only with remote teaching, but also your daily teaching practise. Teacha! Magazine | 29


‘Stupid coronavirus!’ In uncertain times, we can help children through mindfulness and play

“Stupid coronavirus!” I heard my six-year-old mumble while talking in her sleep. Earlier that day her swimming and basketball lessons were cancelled, a birthday party postponed, and she had to race with me between several meetings before the university campus shut down. “Stupid coronavirus indeed!” Hearing this reminded me these are strange and worrying times for young children. While we need to look after ourselves and others, we also need to consider how all this is affecting our kids, and how we can help them through it. Kids and anxiety Australian research found child anxiety diagnoses almost doubled from 2008 to 2013. It’s difficult to say whether this is due to a true increase or we’re simply recognising anxiety better in children. Feeling anxious or worried sometimes is a part of healthy development. But at times, children may feel more anxious or worried than usual. COVID-19 may have contributed to and continue to fuel increased anxiety. We need research to better understand the effects these 30 | Teacha! Magazine

crises have had on children’s well-being. We can support children during these times and also keep an eye out for when they might need more help than we can give. If their anxiety is interfering with typical childhood activities or family life, it could be time to see a GP, paediatrician or psychologist.

using apps (though we need more research to explore the benefits of these). Mindfulness programs are also run in workplaces and other settings.

But there are many things you can do as a parent or caregiver.

But what does the evidence say about mindfulness for children?

Large numbers of parents, teachers, and entire schools are also turning to mindfulness.

Mindfulness for children?

The evidence is mixed

Mindfulness is the regular and repeated act of directing our attention to the present moment. Mostly, our attention follows whatever is most interesting; mindfulness helps us to focus without judging ourselves when we can’t.

A recent review of over 60 studies of school-based mindfulness programs involving preschool to secondary students suggested gains in socialemotional and cognitive skills.

It’s commonly used to reduce stress, improve well-being, and address mental health, which it does reasonably well. In a broader sense, the goal of mindfulness is to help us to sit with our experiences whether they are pleasant, unpleasant, or somewhere in between. Mindfulness practices have become more popular over recent years. Many people practise mindfulness in their day-to-day lives, often

The researchers didn’t observe similar gains in academic achievement or student behaviour. They noted the quality of research, much like that in adults, was not strong enough to make the claims many would like to make about the widespread benefits of mindfulness. Short-term early childhood mindfulness programs and those delivered using audio-guided tracks have so far provided questionable results at best.


One small but promising study used classroom mindfulness activities (for example, listening to sounds), emotion coping skills (like “where in my body do I feel anger?”), and breathing techniques (such as breathing with a soft toy on the tummy). At the end of the first year of this program, pre-schoolers displayed better learning skills. After two years, children displayed higher vocabularies and reading scores. Our own pilot work teaching pre-schoolers about mindfulness found benefits too. While there was little difference immediately

3 mindfulness activities for kids 1. Belly breathing with a “buddy” • find a favourite soft toy (with some weight is good), a plastic bath boat, or similar • have your child lie down and place the object on their tummy • get them to pay attention to it by looking and touching • encourage them to focus on how the object moves up and down as they breathe (you can suggest calm and slow breathing might even put the toy or people in the boat to sleep) • this activity can be great as part of bath time or getting ready for bed.

after the intervention, three months later, children who learned mindfulness showed significant benefits to their mental well-being compared with those who didn’t. Adapting mindfulness activities Obviously, you can’t ask a five-year-old to sit still and focus on their breath for 45 minutes. Techniques commonly used in adults just won’t work with kids. Actvities for children should be interactive, play-based, and focused on sensory and body awareness. It should use emotional vocabulary and sensory language (for example, talking about 2. “Robot” child • ask your child to pretend they are a robot lying on the ground • use a remote control (you can make one from cereal box) and pretend to “shut-down” your child/robot’s body • begin with their feet/ legs, move up the body to arms/hands, before getting to the face/brain • ask “robot” if they can still feel any “electricity” in that body part after it’s been shut down • as your child gets better with this activity, you can get more detailed with robot body parts (for example, toes, fingers, noses, ears) • a variation is to get your robot-child to tense and relax (and reset) each body part as you control it with your remote.

sounds, taste, textures and smells), be hands-on where possible, and most importantly, it should be fun. Given the lack of strong empirical evidence for mindfulness on its own for young children just yet, we should integrate aspects of mindfulness-based activities with other components. Think playful learning about emotions, like colouring in where we notice certain feelings in our bodies, or drawing how music makes us feel. These activities take from other well-known psychological approaches called cognitive behaviour therapy and psychoeducation.

3. A mindful walk or “sensory countdown” • go for a walk outside and try to notice or find: five different sounds, four matching colours, three different textures, two different smells • add different sounds, sights, shapes, and textures to tick off on a bingo-style checklist • this activity can be adapted for inside play. Ben Deery, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of Melbourne. Emma Sciberras, Associate Professor, Deakin University. Nicholas T. Van Dam, Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne. This article is republished from The Conversation under a creative commons license.

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How to help students with a hearing impairment as courses move online Schools, colleges and universities across the world have been closed as a result of COVID-19. But students are expected to continue their studies. As higher education institutions scramble to take their teaching online, lecturers require some help to make material accessible to all students.

lecturer is saying (audio is distorted through technology). Other challenges include absence of closed captions or subtitles, not being able to quickly check with a peer what was said, and not having manual or electronic notes immediately available to them.

Some students may have a hearing impairment and make use of technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. Even under the best circumstances, their accessibility needs are frequently unmet. In this COVID-19 pandemic, with little time to prepare, the focus is understandably on accommodating the majority of students, but this leaves many students further marginalised.

Precise statistics about the numbers of university students who have hearing loss aren’t available. But what we do know is that these students often remain under supported, which can result in poor academic outcomes.

In the online environment, the challenges of the hearing impaired can be even greater. They might not be able to hear what the

Moving conventional teaching and learning online typically means the use of video or audio (live or recorded), presentations, online discussion forums and virtual group projects as well as assessments. These present significant challenges for students with a hearing impairment. How the needs of all students can be met Based on the work I have done in this area in South Africa, some ways that lecturers can improve online learning for students with a hearing impairment have been identified. The National Deaf Centre based at the University of Texas also provides some tips to make sure that everyone has access to the same course content, especially when it’s delivered online. Do a status check As a lecturer you may not be aware that you have a student with a hearing impairment in your class. Many do not disclose or request any special assistance. Inform all your students that moving to virtual classes is an opportunity to update you if they have any challenges in accessing the content through video or audio recordings.

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Use captions Captioning is the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD, live event, or other production into text and displaying the text on a screen or monitor. Captions not only display words that are used in spoken dialogue or narration, they also include speaker identification, sound effects and music description. It is the most effective strategy to ensure access for students with a hearing loss. Captioning is not only critical for students who are deaf/hearing impaired; it also aids the reading and literacy skills development of many others. Research shows that the use of video and audio captions benefits everyone. An alternative to captioning is to provide subtitles: a text alternative for the dialogue of video footage. There are online tools to assist with this such as Kapwing. YouTube also allows one to add subtitles automatically. Test your video conferencing platform Zoom, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting and similar platforms are often used by universities but their accessibility features vary widely and not all of them have features to assist hearing impaired users. Some platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, use automatic captions, but the accuracy is not 100%. Filming for visibility Consider your clothing and lighting when producing a video. Video conferencing etiquette recommends that when you’re being filmed you wear clothing that is not “busy” and provides good contrast with your skin, so that the student with a hearing loss is not distracted and can easily see your lips. Make sure there’s enough light in the room and that it’s sufficiently diffused to reduce or eliminate shadows on faces, making it easier for students to lip-read. It’s also important to keep the camera at an angle that gives lipreaders a good view of your face.

Set some ground rules Setting a few online class rules about communication will reap major benefits when using group communication platforms. Establish turn-taking and participation protocols, such as using the “raise hand” feature, the chatbox, or identifying your name before commenting. Ask students to turn on their video only when they want to ask a question, since limiting the number of participants on screen at the same time can improve video quality. The same goes for sound: tell students to stay in mute mode until they have something to say, to reduce background noise. These strategies allow students with hearing difficulties to focus on one speaker or interaction at a time. Learn more about your learning management system Use the online tutorials provided by your service provider to learn more about its accessibility features. Ensure that course material (and glossaries) are provided in advance to students with a hearing impairment. Glossaries are extremely useful to explain terminology used in the online class. As a presenter, slow down This helps all listeners to follow. Advise students who rely on assistive listening devices that they may need to connect their computer’s audio directly to a personal device such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant processor, or to noise-reducing headphones. Where possible, record live meetings and lectures in case there are issues with internet connections. Regularly contact your students to check whether they can access and understand the online content. Work with the university’s disability rights office to meet the accessibility needs of students. Use one-on-one video chats or text messages if the student needs additional support. Dr Diane Bell, Researcher, Cape Peninsula University of Technology. This article is republished from The Conversation under a creative commons license.

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Coronavirus: 14 simple tips for better online teaching

The past few days have seen increasing numbers of schools and universities across the world announce that they are moving to online-only learning. Hundreds of thousands of teachers are busy working to move their face-to-face lessons online. Designing online courses takes significant time and effort. Right now, however, we need a simpler formula. Here are 14 quick tips to make online teaching better, from an expert in online learning. 1. Record your lectures – don’t stream them

2. Show your face

If students are unwell or are struggling with internet access, they will miss a live streamed lecture. Record videos instead and send them to your students so that they can watch in their own time.

Research has shown that lecture videos that show instructors’ faces are more effective than simple narrated slideshows. Intersperse your slides with video of yourself.

3. Keep videos short Videos longer than 15 minutes can cause issues of slow downloading and learner distraction. If you have more to say, record two or three short videos. 4. Test out slides Make sure you test slides on a smartphone before 34 | Teacha! Magazine

shooting your lectures so all text is readable on small screens. Font sizes, colours, template designs and screen ratios can be doublechecked.

can use pre-developed resources available online and provide students with clickable links. 6. … and make sure they’re open access

5. Use existing resources … It is unrealistic to expect that you, on your own, will produce a semester’s worth of high quality videos. You

Using open resources helps prevent access problems for students. If any of your suggested resources are not accessible, you will receive


an inbox full of student emails and eventually waste all your time troubleshooting. Spending a few extra minutes carefully searching for fully open access materials will save you a headache later.

Making this as a mandatory assignment but a lowstakes task will produce the best outcomes and responses from students. A set of 15 quiz questions or a 300-word limit will be sufficient to engage students for 30 minutes.

7. Give specific instructions When you suggest online media which runs for longer than 15 minutes, students will be put off watching. Instead, suggest the exact parts they need (eg 13:35 to 16:28) as this can even make students more curious. When you provide more than two resources, label them in the order you want students to approach them. Simple numbering, based on the level of difficulty or importance of each resource item, can be of great help for your students. 8. Provide interactive activities Most learning management systems, such as Moodle, Edmodo and Blackboard, include a range of functions to create interactive learning activities such as quizzes. Step-by-step guides to creating them are widely available online. Use them. 9. Set reasonable expectations When you create quizzes, you should make sure all questions can be answered by referring to the given learning resources. When you ask students to write a summary of lecture videos, you should make it clear that this is not a serious report.

10. Use auto-checking to measure attendance If you tell students that their attendance will be measured by their participation in a quiz, it will increase compliance. However, you won’t have time to check them all, so use the automatic checking and grading features on the learning management systems. 11. Use group communication carefully Group communication shouldn’t be used for direct teaching. Instead, set up “virtual office hours” on a video conferencing tool like Zoom. Simply log in at the appointed time and wait for students. Focus on providing social support and checking if any issues need to be addressed immediately. This can be a great way to collect student feedback on your online teaching as well. Make meetings optional and be relaxed. No need to be frustrated when no one shows up: students are still happy to know that this option is available. 12. Let students take control You can set up online group spaces for small

groups of students and ask them to support and consult with one another before sending emails to you directly. You can post a couple of questions to help students break the ice and start conversation. Encourage students to use the communication tools they prefer. Some groups will click well and some will not, but this little tip can make students feel socially supported and reduce your inbox traffic. 13. Don’t hide your feelings Online teachers’ emotional openness is a great instructional strategy. Tell your students that it is your first time teaching online and you are learning while teaching. Explicitly ask them to help you, reassuring them that you will do your very best to support their learning as well. They will be sympathetic since they share the same emotions, and you will be set up for success. 14. Repeat Online students do not like frequent changes in their learning style. They are happy to repeat the same structure and activities. Once you find a teaching style working for you, feel free to repeat it each week until you are back in your classroom. Kyungmee Lee, Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning, Lancaster University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Teacha! Magazine | 35


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Teacha! Magazine - Term 2 2020 - Remote Learning Focus Edition  

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