Online learning - How we make it work!
Some things might surprise you about online learning, given some of the bad publicity the mode of instruction has received.
Student Attendance is up
Homework completion is up
Exams taken are up
Activity participation is up
It all means that, looking forward to schools reopening, those big Grade 10 and 12 exams in June and further in the future when it comes to university and college applications, Bhartians are at an advantage. The success is largely due to the reasons as discussed below-
We give teachers the tools
80-90% of teachers at Oakridge teach using PPTs in the classroom. So the move online was easy for them in that respect. For those who used whiteboards, we’ve given them all a digital whiteboard and stylus pen so they can teach in the way they’re used to and their students are used to. Minimal disruption.
We record all lessons
All our lessons are recorded. This allows us to quality control not only the content of the lesson but the way that teachers are interacting with students and encouraging them to work. Co-ordinators, Principals and our education team can all review lessons and give teachers feedback and guidance so teaching gets better and better in the new environment. It also means we’ve built up a vast library of lessons for students who missed a lesson or just wish to revisit the content.
The Parent is our Partner
We run orientation sessions for our parents so they understand how secure the access to our system is and how online learning is structured. Our Principal also conducts regular and informal workshops with parents. Knowing you’re not alone in this online learning situation is important. Our teachers are available in evening slots every day of the school week, but these more in-depth meetings all.
Yes, we still do co-curricular
Activities give children the opportunity to pursue their passions, develop their skills and build relationships. The school has organized Fit India Fitness Movement, webinars with industry experts and counselling sessions with our counselor and Principal, Dr. Savita Arora.
We’re already planning for the future
We envisage, in the coming months, a situation where some children are coming to school physically, whilst others stay at home. That’s why getting online learning working is so important to us. School closures are not the fault of our children and we must do everything we can to ensure no long-term negative eﬀects for them.
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Importance of Writing
Teaching writing is somewhat of a dreaded phrase in the English department. We are all Literature lovers and doubt our ability to successfully break down and build back up the components of writing to teach students the step by step approach needed to really improve their skills. Teaching in a secondary school in an inner city with high levels of socio and economic deprivation, plus English as Second Language learners presents us with a variety of challenges to overcome in students’ writing.
Overcome the barriers
However, the biggest barrier I think our students face is themselves. As many teenagers are; they are delightfully opinionated and outspoken, full of creativity and life, but when it comes to putting pen to paper; they freeze. They struggle starting a piece of writing, become plagued by self doubt and give up, decide it’s ‘wrong’ and cross it all out, or write a paragraph and think that’s ‘enough’. This year I have decided it IS enough – prior to lockdown I was determined this was the year I was going to crack writing – so here is my (at this stage purely theoretical) plan to overcome these barriers and to create confident, enthusiastic writers.
The program of study this year is designed to encourage students to focus more on their own writing voice and expressing their opinions. We will be using starters and plenaries to encourage quick judgment making, supporting opinions with reasons and critiquing others’ viewpoints verbally. We will only teach writing alongside reading, this is not a new idea BUT what is new is the amount of work we’re going to expect students to produce.
Teach like a writer
We would usually plan to an assessment calendar – what students need to produce so that we can mark it in line with the school calendar and policy. This year the headteacher has given us permission to try out a technique championed in Jennifer Webb’s Teach Like a Writer and we will NOT be marking students writing – rather we will be reading it and giving whole class feedback. This is the first attempt we will be making to give students greater ownership over their writing and higher accountability for finding and correcting their own grammar and punctuation mistakes (with some guidance).
Rather than producing several extended pieces of writing per SOW moving from Newspaper articles one week to descriptive paragraphs the next, we will spend the whole half term working on one piece of writing and planning of individual lessons looking at quality examples will support the crafting and techniques needed to do this.
Students will learn the commitment needed and build their resilience by returning again and again to the one piece of writing. We will repeatedly ask students to select something they are proud of in their work and build a treasure trove of their ‘best bits’ for them to return to when inspiration is lacking.
Celebrate the creative process
In Storycraft by Martin Griffin and Jon Mayhew the author’s explore the virtues of a creative manifesto. Basically the idea that we should establish a classroom culture that celebrates the creative process including its failures and successes and an openness to sharing work to help inspire each other. This will be created in cohesion with the students and referred back to when the going gets tough.
To further help develop resilience we will be using Storycraft’s plea for generating ‘micro ideas’; using creative activities to play around with characters, settings and plot points and judging and critiquing our ideas before refining, planning and finally writing.
Both books advocate for moving away from a ‘taught’ structure as the rigidity it creates – although meant to enable creativity in expression – is actually stifling. We will endeavor to encourage students to play with structure whilst returning to the basic premise of a beginning, middle and end in different variations: person, place, problem; character, situation, resolution etc.
Removing the rigidity of a ‘plan’ and structure sits uncomfortably with me as I know the students (and we as teachers) cling to the hope we can provide students with a security blanket that they can fall back on in the exam.However, when I think of why we teach English; the desire for students to be able to leave us able to communicate their own ideas confidently and clearly; I know this is the right move to enable them to develop lifelong skills, not pass an exam.
Importance Of Mental Health Awareness For Children
My answer is an emphatic yes to whoever asks this question, “Is mental health awareness important for children?”
Mental health includes our entire being – our emotional, social and psychological self. It affects what we sense, how we feel, how and what we think and eventually leads to how we behave. The foundation of every adult is laid in their childhood, so it is imperative that the foundation of sound mental health is also laid in the formative years. Every stage of human life and mental health are connected – from infancy to childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood and finally to old age. Neither of the stages is more important or less important.
Children should be made aware that just like our physical health, we have mental health. We give importance to food and exercise to develop physically, similarly, we must understand the importance of mental health awareness. Giving priority to our thoughts and feelings can help develop the power to face all the challenges that life would throw at us. An honest conversation with the children will be best when we say, all who have a body have to think of their physical health and all who have a brain have to think of mental health. Strategies to have healthier and happier children should be our paramount priority.
Sound mental health is fundamental for a child’s success in life – be it in school or with companions. When we install such a growth mindset in ourselves and our children, there will be no stigma attached to mental health. Shame should never block the path to take help.
Everyone (including children) can be nervous and scared sometimes. Encouragement should be given to recognise thoughts and feelings and talk about them. No one needs to worry alone and it’s OKAY to ask for help; this should be the clear message conveyed to children.
Adults who are around children – parents and teachers, have to be alert and interested in a child’s body language, verbal and non-verbal conversations with others, in what they write and what they draw. If they find something amiss, then it’s okay not to wait for the child to start the conversation or confide in us. We can start by asking – “You look a wee bit upset today or you do not seem to be your usual chirpy self today. Would you like to chat about it? Can I do something to help you?” It’s essential to look into the eye of the child when having this conversation. If possible, sit on a low chair, so there is less difference in height and it tends to be less intimidating and more approachable.
Mary Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.” So the first step of the ladder is recognising internal thoughts. Help the child to understand those thoughts and feelings, accept them and that will give the power to direct them into the world that is dreamt of. Paying attention and being mindful of the thoughts and all the senses that the thoughts create is the key beginning to realisation.
Moods and thoughts change constantly, so offering empathy and being understanding gives confidence to the child, rather than being judgmental and offering solutions. Unconditional love and no rationing in awarding praise whenever the child does something good is highly recommended. A listening ear is a good beginning and giving instructions can follow later. Substituting nagging and yelling with disciplining with respect is something I endorse. The ultimate aim should be, “I want my child to be happy”, so their strengths and weaknesses, both should be accepted.
Happiness is the main component of mental health. Everyone is born as a happy child; we lose it somewhere on the way while growing up. Growing up at any age is not so easy and becomes questionable when we try to keep pace with others around us and others’ expectations of us. Life does not come with an instruction booklet and each one has to face the music they listen to. Empower the children to have faith in themselves and their abilities and they shall be able to move mountains and live a healthy, happy life.
I love what Dr. Seuss has said. “So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that LIFE’S A GREAT BALANCING ACT. And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed! (98 and 3/4 % guaranteed) KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS.”
Digital Eye Strain during Digital Lessons
With several screens that support our tech-centric lifestyle, we need to equally sensitize the eye care segment for long-term vision and to keep higher index eyeglasses at bay. Digital Eye Strain that is also known as Computer Vision Syndrome occurs due to continually shifting, adjusting, and refocusing eyes while staring at the screen.
As today almost everyone is susceptible of digital mediums, Bharti Public School, the Best School in East Delhi communicates about the symptoms, causes, and tips on how to get rid of Digital Eye Strain effectively.
During this phase of lockdown all the updates related to work, education, entertainment, and news, are being fed to us through screens. Thus extended period of watching via these mediums, causes discomfort in the eyes that leads to fluctuating vision, eye burn, and feel dry, itchy, and irritated. This condition is termed as Digital Eye Strain. Its impact further gives rise to the following problems:
Fatigue – Tiredness in eyes due to intense usage of digital mediums.
Headache – Constant exposure towards light and sound.
Neck and shoulder pain – Excessive stretching of muscles.
The increased level of distress can also result in the below mentioned;
Light sensitivity – Level of light impacting negatively on the eyesight.
Glare on digital screen – Excessive contrast between dark and bright on light sources.
Nearsightedness & Farsightedness – Poor judgement in identifying objects from near and far.
Unhealthy posture – Change in alignment of sitting position multiple times.
As digital media has become the need of the hour in COVID-19 period, the only way to decrease the adverse effect on vision is by adhering to the right eye care tips on regular basis.
Exercise your eyes – Remember the rule of thumb – 20-20-20. Every twenty minutes, Take a twenty second break and look at the screen from twenty feet away. This will relax eye muscles and decrease the risk of myopia and hyper-myopia.
Take frequent visual breaks – Halting at regular intervals and limiting the screen time can reduce eye strain and fatigue. This will hydrate eyes and stop allergy triggers.
Ensure correct seating position – Sitting straight with head aligned properly is important for neck and shoulder. This can relieve strained muscles and also exercise them at times.
Adjust brightness on device – Setting brightness level of device is crucial to regulate rays that can affects the eyes. Hence change the background color to cool gray or lighter the OG shade.
Wear glasses if needed – If your vision is affected, make sure to wear right pair of glasses before confronting the screen. Opt for eye examinations once a year to maintain eye health.
Eat healthy – Ensure a balanced diet that consists of fruits and vegetables full of anti-oxidants to boost the eye health. This can ward-off vision related problems such as cataracts.
Bharti Public School, the Best School in East Delhi acknowledges the fact that children and technology are the future. Nevertheless, it is important to teach kids about moderation in life as it is a crucial life skill. Thus, we at BPS set healthy boundaries so students can go a long way setting higher visions and achieving life goals.
#Conquering2020 Webinar – Orientation on Positive Parenting | 5 May 2020
Raising kids isn’t always easy. The little bubbles of energy have to be kept busy and providing for the needs of the child consistently and unconditionally can be very stressful. So our Principal, DR. SAVITA ARORA shared her experience as an educator and mother on how to gently guide and raise an emotionally and intellectually awakened child.
Unlocking Empowered Partnership | 18 July 2020
COVID-19 has redefined in ways more than one. But as the educator of your child, BPS is dedicated towards enhancing creativity and productivity from the confines of your homes, effectively managing screen-time and ultimately empowering an independent self-learner with a drive to succeed!