PYP 6: Reflection on home–learning versus on-site schooling

Contribution by Mr. Mark Shilitoeteacher PYP6

On 11 May ISD Primary returned to the physical classrooms and with this, transitioned from ‘remote – learning’ to a ‘blended learning’ approach. The transition has been smooth and young learners in PYP6 now participate in a hybrid learning environment between the classroom setting and the virtual. Although there have been some initial adjustments for teachers and students, the current public health crisis has created lots of new opportunities and possibilities for learning.

Throughout the period of remote learning guest teachers or myself posted a daily assignment, ‘The Morning Message’. For example, students were asked to watch artist Björk’s beautiful impression of Virus. And then had to react on how it made them feel and after this, create a visual collage of a virus. The students could respond in various ways, from writing poetry, making music to creating a visual response. With the daily assignment, the students were able to connect their emotions with each other, albeit through a digital platform.

On returning to school with 50% of class in school and 50% at home, I wanted to provide continuity to the routines we had established, therefore ‘The Morning Message’ continued to be a key daily feature.

Wanting to reflect with the students on the blended learning environment we did the following ‘Morning Message’ assignment.

“Position yourself on a line between home and school”

The assignment was open to interpretation, which guided an open discussion to the positions the students adopted in relation to personal learning and emotional well being.

In the class, we created a physical response, actually situating ourselves on a line of red thread, spanning the classroom space between labels representing ‘home’ and ‘school’.

The children who were at home that day were able to give their real-time responses through images, text and voice recording. Students in the class and at home were able to connect on an emotional level and share their similarities and differences in opinion.

Opinions were varied;  thoughts of more freedom and flexibility with learning, more time to eat or complete activities, availability of resources at school, choice when to take breaks, having a personal space, thinking differently, playing and learning with friends and beings more around family.

“I like meeting my friends and having fun together. I also like being at home because I can have time with my family”

“I would choose home, because you have more freedom and you don’t have to wake up too early”

“I would like to go back to school, because we can help one another, and I miss my friends”

Reflecting on this learning experience I observed the powerful connections between opinions and each other in these hybrid analog/digital, home /school learning spaces. The experience unraveled the importance of social & emotional learning in these uncertain times. And by highlighting the value of listening to the student’s voice as together, we adapt to the opportunities that the new ’normal’ of school presents.