Our A-Level student is completing her final module on European dictators. I wish her all the best for her final exam.
AS Level students are learning about the Unification of Germany. Students are learning how to tackle advanced source-based papers and are becoming increasingly responsible for their own learning as they carry out research.
IGCSE students are learning about the events that precipitated the Second World War. They are forming judgements about the significance of events, as well as learning how to approach source-based questions.
The Year 8 students are currently learning about the First World War. Thus far, they have learnt about things such as the reasons for the war, the alliance system, wartime propaganda, the weapons that were used during the war and life in the trenches. Students created propaganda posters to recruit soldiers for the war effort.
The senior IGCSE and AS Level students are currently writing their Prelim exams. I wish them all the best as they prepare for their finals.
High School History Teacher
Something that has struck me throughout the term is the reaction my students have had to lockdown. It would have been easy for them to give up and simply do the bare minimum, but instead they threw themselves both into online learning and into projects at home. Not a morning meeting goes by without one or more of my students telling me about something they made, something they’ve done, or a cool new exercise routine they thought up. Moreover, generally the things they are sharing are things they’ve done with or for family members – going cycling or running with their parents, making a cake for their Dad’s birthday, looking after a younger sibling, playing with their pets, and so on.
The lockdown encouraged our students to experiment with what they could do at home. They baked, made art, and spent time with their families. Don’t get me wrong – they’ve had their frustrations, but they have taken what they had and made the best of it, and I am incredibly proud of them for it!
Year 5 Teacher
Here are some of the interesting things Year 5HK has been up to…
During the second term the Year 1 classes have had individual, small group and class Zoom meetings.
The class zoom meetings have been fun times to see friends, share news, play games and even dress-up. The students have really enjoyed seeing their classmates even though they can’t play together it has been a way to connect with each other. As their teacher it has been a chance to see the class and catch up with what they are doing and how they are coping.
On Friday, 5 June my class enjoyed another Master Chef class. This time they watched a cooking demonstration on how to make Cheese puffs. The students then received the recipe via email and were encouraged to bake some for their families. Judging from the photos I received, they are all budding chefs!
Year 1 Teacher
CHEESE PUFFS RECIPE:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper
Mix these ingredients together.
1 egg (beat with a fork) add about half a cup of milk.
Mix with dry ingredients. Spoon into a muffin pan and bake at 220 for 10 minutes.
Recipe from: Gabriel Bamani
Year 1 Student
We have conquered!
This term started off with a lot of uncertainty and unfamiliar ground. Although the challenges were many, the successes were more!
The Year 5 students are feeling amazing and they should. They have tackled challenges unknown to them and educated themselves beyond what any curriculum could teach. They have shown responsibility and maturity as each and every student took control of their learning and applied themselves to every task at hand.
Here’s how Year 5NM turned a challenge into a success with just positive thinking:
“I like online learning because I can work at my own pace, and I can spend more time with my family.” Kourtney Jones
“Ten weeks into it and online learning is going very well. My best part of it has to be working while sitting next to a crackling fire, sipping hot chocolate and keeping warm and toasty during the cold weather” Sanam Srikewal
“My favorite thing about online learning is that I can stay in my Pajamas all day and learn in the comfort of my own home.” Joshua Greyling
“The best part about online learning is that I can concentrate without any distractions” Tshiamo Ngcizela
“The best part about online learning is that I can have snacks in the middle of a lesson and I can spend the whole day in my pajamas.” Isabella Lockhart
“The best part of online learning for me is that I can work at my own pace and stay in my pajamas. I can also snack and take breaks whenever I want to.” Cole Dreyer
“I have found the best part of online learning is I have a friend who is helping me with my work. I enjoy working with him.”
“I enjoy seeing my friends on the calls and I enjoy doing challenging work because I can learn from the challenge!!!!” Jenna Eberlein
We have turned challenges into successes and we keep it moving! Positive thinking is our goal. Well done, Year 5NM!
Year 5 Teacher
As one of the arguably most famous German authors said – You can only achieve success through doing. This term has proven this to me again.
Eight years ago I did a course in modern language learning methods using technology. We learned about blended learning, flipped classrooms and different websites to use. Since then a lot has changed and throughout the years I always wanted to implement more technology in teaching. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition since teaching the traditional way was just easier and more accessible to students. This lockdown has forced us as teachers and students to finally use all those technological tools out there.
Learning German with online tools has never been easier. The German government has supported the teaching of German in other countries for years now and therefore we have many different online platforms to choose from. Sites such as Deutsche Welle and Lingoni offer great Video learning tools. Duo Lingo is a fun way to support what is learnt in class with fun activities. Additional to this it has become a lot easier to create your own online Quizzes or videos to share with students.
Even though this time has been trying and difficult it was a great step forward. Practicing a language does work better in a classroom setting, and will never become unnecessary, but the past couple of months have shown me how language learning can also be successful through other means. If you never try you will never learn.
By the time you read this we will have been under lockdown for 49 days… who would’ve thought? Two weeks became 3 weeks then it was extended again or was it the other way around?
When we started online teaching most of us felt lost and must have watched the various “how to” videos at least 50 times. Now however, 49 days in, it’s old hat. Teaching Design and Technology has made me realise that things are always changing, and people are always looking for innovative ways to produce new products.
When reflecting on the situation in which we find ourselves today, I cannot help but think that Design and Technology will play a huge role in the future. For example, think about all those Zoom meetings you have attended. Now, as you know, you can change the background, but how professional is that Eiffel Tower in the background? Is that the look you want when hosting that all important board-meeting? I see that there is a South African company that sells professional-looking office and boardroom backgrounds. They can even recreate your actual office so you and your staff can feel right at home. Isn’t it amazing what Design and Technology software can do?
In Design and Technology, students are taught to improve the design of an existing product or design a something completely new altogether- the aim being to create something which will make our daily lives that little bit easier. My students are busy designing health care facilities made from shipping containers, vertical farming installations, fold-away study tables and an eco-friendly school, to name just a few of the exciting projects we have underway.
I am sure that we are all looking forward to seeing their final designs.
Design and Technology Teacher
I will be one of the first to admit that online teaching and learning certainly took some adapting to. My students and I rose to the challenge and I’m proud of what they have achieved.
Once more traditional expectations regarding the teaching of History have been removed, one discovers that the subject rather lends itself to the online environment. While history may have been taught to many as a long (and very boring) list of dates, the best way to learn history is to study historical sources. This is where online learning comes into its own as students have more time and room to explore than they would in a conventional classroom setting. Many activities can be easily adapted to the online environment and even the shy students can make their opinions heard.
I’ll admit to being especially proud of my senior students. Their dedication and passion for the subject is extremely encouraging, as is their continued academic excellence. They are true Cambridge students in every regard. The world needs more diligent, creative and passionate individuals like them.
- Pace yourself and use your time effectively
- Remove distractions from your work environment (put the phone away)
- Plan your essays – it actually helps you to write faster
- Speak to the teacher if you are uncertain or experiencing problems – we are here to help
- Collaborate with your peers – online learning does not mean that you have to learn alone
- Shortcuts lead to long delays – complete that classwork task!
The Coronavirus has led me to think that it is likely more fun to read about history than to create it (the parts that make the History books at any rate). Will we study this in years to come?
High School History Teacher
During the last few weeks, the world has focused on the ‘Front-line’ workers for their amazing contribution in supporting the sick, ensuring that we can work remotely from home and for keeping the food shelves stocked. We applaud them! Their bravery and commitment is astounding.
While this was happening, there was a small group of people that may not have been on the front-lines, but were working tirelessly between the trenches and ‘no mans land’.
The people I am referring to are the teachers.
Although I may have thought that I have sufficient tech knowledge to teach effectively in the modern world and to support my admin skills, it became quite clear to me that this was not entirely the case. Teaching in the virtual classroom was going to be a challenge for sure. It was time to teach an old dog a few new tricks.
Teachers scrambled from left to right, learning how to balance home life, teaching online, learning new skills and staying sane at the same time. We had to learn how to navigate different platforms, and boy that mute button is a saving grace.
After finding my way and seeing the difference between the classroom and the virtual world, I realised that this was going to be tough, but I could do this. There were many obstacles for a number of us, but we overcame them and continued nonetheless.
Reaching out for support, I realized that I was not alone in this. Most of my colleagues felt the same way that I did. Lost, but determined to do this correctly for our students. We soldiered on.
I asked some of my friends and colleagues a few questions regarding how they feel about teaching in the classroom versus teaching online; this is what they had to say:
What do you enjoy most about online teaching?
“I have enjoyed finding different resources and approaches to lessons. While it has been a lot of work to get used to and comfortable with the technology, there has been time to find new resources and research ideas to implement in lessons now and when we return to school.”
“I really enjoy putting together the slides for the video lessons. We are using a programme called Doceri on the i-pad, which allows us to record a voice over as we move through the slides to create our lesson videos. We then upload our video lessons to Google Classroom for the students and parents to access.
I love the interaction I have with the students during the Zoom focus group lessons. The focus groups are smaller groups of 4-5 students. It really is so rewarding to see how they are progressing.”
What do you find most challenging about the virtual classroom?
“Although I am enjoying online teaching, I really miss being in the classroom and interacting with all the students and families from my class. As a classroom teacher, I have become accustomed to having all my teaching tools and resources at my fingertips. In the virtual classroom, we have to make new resources and convert them into a digital format. Students also need to do practical activities, and we have to try and use things they already have at home to do these activities. I am also using a lot more technology and learning as I go, which sometimes takes a bit longer to get things done. Sometimes there are also technical difficulties that I have to work around.”
Has online teaching changed your thinking and/or methods of effective teaching?
“Yes, absolutely – more tech savvy!”
“Yes, I’m positive about what can be achieved online, and how versatile it can be depending on the teacher and their willingness. Though I don’t think it is a one-size-fits all, it doesn’t work for every student. I’m more mindful of how I come across and what the children in class need to see from their teacher. If all you see is a face on screen, it needs to be a friendly one, with a huge smile, open, kind and warm. I enjoy trying new things with my class; especially some fun games, which I’d like to continue when back in our classroom.”
“Yes, to a degree. But the live interaction and discussion in the classroom, takes lessons in different directions and has a lot of value in developing the concepts the children learn.”
Is there a place for the virtual classroom concept in the future? If yes, how could it compliment the curriculum or your teaching strategies? If no, why?
“Yes and no.
Yes because during a time like this where we need to stay away from school to be safer, it allows the students to learn in their own comfort of their homes, at their own pace. As well as with the times we live in, students prefer to use technology. It allows teachers to get creative and think of ways to teach incorporating the different styles of learning. In this, teachers are learning new strategies to teach.
No, because as a Primary School teacher, it is important for students to socialize and have human interaction. Being in a classroom allows students to grow not just developmentally, but emotionally and socially as well. The classroom also allows us to bring in fun lessons, via the projector.”
“I think putting up videos on Google Classroom to explain how we teach different concepts, will be great for parents to understand how we teach. It would also be great to, sometimes, teach lessons for the children to do at home and then come back to school to do the practical work and application. (Flipping the classroom)”
“Yes, there is definitely a place for the virtual classroom in the future. Although I don’t feel that it could
ever replace the classroom, it can be beneficial alongside the classroom. The virtual classroom can be used for extra enrichment to practise concepts learnt in the classroom. It allows parents to become more familiar with the curriculum. Through the online videos, parents are exposed to teaching methods and vocabulary that they can use with their children. This also provides more continuity when discussing concepts and prevents the child from possibly becoming confused.”
What do you miss most about the classroom?
“The hugs, the humor and the “ah-ha” moments.”
“I miss seeing my children in class every day, their smiles and beautiful pictures they like to draw for my walls. I miss the physical interactions with my class, the high fives or hugs each morning, and being able to comfort them when they are having a sad day.”
“I miss the instant feedback from the children in order to assess their learning and plan for the next lessons.”
“I miss everything about school. I miss seeing the children’s smiling faces every morning, and greeting
their family members as they are dropped off or collected from school. In the classroom, I miss our morning rings and presenting lessons on the carpet. I miss helping the students during play time and watching them play. I miss putting on plasters, giving out icepacks. I really also miss my colleagues and the support we give each other daily. I miss the admin staff and being able to just pop into Ms. Kiley or Mrs. Lawrence’s office for a chat. I miss sitting together during meetings instead of just seeing each other on a screen.”
After reviewing their responses, the virtual classroom in some form has a place in the future. It can be used to compliment our teaching methods within the classroom, but in my opinion not replace it.
It is certainly clear that the classroom is still the best for personal interactions, and for nurturing emotions and feelings. The close contact is what we strive for as human beings.
I recently read an article that endeavored to explain why we are more exhausted at the end of the virtual ‘school day’. It is not because we have to deal with behavioral issues or with multiple duties, but being on a video call requires more intense focus than face-to-face chats. The article stated that ‘we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and the pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to those consumes a lot of energy’. We also have to try to drown out the distracting noises and voices in the background, and the moving and shaking of screens.
So, when you are clanging your pots and pans, clapping your hands and singing songs every night at 8:00 pm, please leave a small space in your heart for the teachers out there. They are most likely not there to join their family; they are busy preparing their lessons for tomorrow.
Year 1 Teacher
The year 4 classes started the second term launched into virtual orbit. We have all had to learn how to navigate Google Classroom, when to talk and when to be quiet in a Google meeting and how to upload and mark completed work.
I am so proud of how our students have owned their own learning. Cambridge education emphasises the development of students who can think, solve problems and actively take responsibility for their own learning. We must be doing something right, for this is what I saw over and over again today.
What absolute stars our students are. Thank you to the parents too, for making launching such fun. I look forward to tomorrow and the rest of the adventure online.
Welcome back to Term 2, only this term things are slightly different. On Wednesday, the Year 1 classes had their first day of E-learning.
What do I mean by E-learning?
It is a learning system based on formalized teaching, but with the help of electronic resources. By using Google classroom, videos and resources the teachers put together, the students were able to start their curriculum as normal. Our students receive regular learning objectives and we offer real time online support to parents who may need additional guidance.
A few parents shared photos with us showing how much their children are enjoying learning online. It is interesting to see the different ways they have set up their study spaces at home. There are wonderful tips and tricks to create an effective study space for your child online and would be worth looking into.
Here are some basic tips to create a great study space for your child:
– Position the desk to look away from distractions like windows and doors. Have them face a special wall where you put up the alphabet and other helpful materials for them to easily refer to.
– Set up supplies (computer, headphones, books, stationery, art supplies, etc) before studying begins and explain to your child how to keep them neat and in their place.
– Light is very important, a well lit area will make for better concentration.
– Control the clutter by encouraging your child to have a special place to keep their little trinkets and treasures in. (For example a container, drawer or shelf)
– Headphones are a great tool for E-learning and will minimise distractions if you have a busy household.
– Device downtime is extremely important and taking brain breaks to burn off energy cannot be overemphasized. Allow your child device free time and motivate them to get fresh air. Free and imaginative play will be a very beneficial addition to your child’s E-learning schedule and ultimate learning success.
We look forward to seeing many more E-learning photos and videos!
Year 1 Teacher