During the circuit-breaker period in Singapore when schools closed, OWIS offered students a full e-learning programme with a balance of academics, specialist lessons, recreational activities and social check-ins. As per Phase 1 rules of school re-opening in June, students rotate each week between in-class learning and virtual learning at home. Here’s a look at our e-learning programme for our Early Childhood students.
OWIS’ E-learning programme for our Early Childhood students:
Our e-learning programme for Early Childhood students has been designed to, as far as possible, mirror the learning that takes place when we are on campus. This isn’t easy with young children!
At school, each class teacher has three or four 30-minute carpet sessions with their whole class when they explain concepts and the children are given opportunities to question and understand what they are learning about through whole-group activities.
During e-learning, these 30-minute sessions happen through live video calls but they are spread throughout the day to ensure the children can focus and to make the impact of e-learning easier for families.
Two to three of the live video sessions per day are lessons, which lead into independent tasks that the children complete via the Seesaw (communication) app. For example, children might document the growth of a plant with a written and photo diary, compose and perform a song about a kangaroo, or interview their parents about their jobs. We have purposefully not included tasks that require printing.
As OWIS uses the inquiry-based PYP framework for our EC students, the activities assigned to students on Seesaw and during the video sessions are designed to continue their inquiry and are as engaging, active and dynamic as possible. Children in the live video sessions sing, dance and play together, as well as inquire into the world around them and develop specific skills.
Although we know that open-ended tasks and inquiry-based learning are most beneficial to students, we recognise that parents need to focus on their own work during this online learning period and open-ended tasks can require parental support for younger children, so therefore a balance of focussed, individually manageable activities is provided.
This might include, for example, a task where the child designs a new animal and voice records him/herself explaining it or the completion of some mathematical or grammatical problems that the child can manage without parental support.
In addition to video lessons, one live video session per day is either a story-time and wrap-up session, to finish the day on a calm and positive note, so that the children are settled for the evening. There are also social check-in sessions, which give children the opportunity to chat with their classmates in as natural an environment as possible, to retain and strengthen their communicative bonds. Social time might include fun activities such as games of Pictionary, quizzes, show and tell or calming activities, such as yoga or mindfulness.
Specialist lessons and weekly e-learning menu
Specialist subject teachers (Art, Mandarin, Music and PE) provide instructive videos for the children, which allows families to be flexible with their time. Art and Mandarin teachers also provide follow-up activities for the children to complete on Seesaw.
In order to build more flexibility and student agency into the programme, a weekly e-learning menu, including a range of skills-based creative and constructive tasks is sent to the families, and time is devoted throughout the week to either completing off-screen tasks for this menu or to free play.
Our Teaching Assistants offer 1:1 sessions with students in order to help them with their reading, to consolidate concepts covered in class, to provide communicative skills development or simply to play with the children.
A weekly EC assembly is also provided, showcasing children’s work from the week and reinforcing the theme of the week.
In order to ensure that families are as prepared as possible for the week ahead, each class publishes an e-learning schedule, which outlines any materials that might be needed for the lessons in advance. We provide a list of materials that each family might find useful to have in stock, and teachers are asked to ensure that lessons use these resources only where possible.
External websites that children have to access for their learning activities are limited to those that are vital (for example, access to levelled reading books) and students are never asked to use any external site that requires a login so that families don’t need to keep track of lots of passwords and for security reasons.
Security is a huge concern when designing an e-learning programme, and has been at the top of our list of considerations. Strict security protocols and settings with unique codes and passwords that are changed weekly are emailed separately to parents, and not shared outside of the school community. This ensures that our families can feel reassured that their children are safe while e-learning.
Words of encouragement from our parents!
Here’s what one of our EC parent, Tanya C., had to say about her child’s EC e-learning lessons:
“Ms Deepali has done an amazing job! My son has been engaged in all his lessons and it is testament to the time and effort she has given to the students. I appreciate her commitment, especially since she has her own daughter also e-learning at home!”