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Online learning at Huili Primary School: rooted in life

23 April 2020
As the weather gets warmer, it’s time to look at the online learning systems that have been put in place over the past winter and current spring seasons. Huili academic team started to launch the long-distance learning plan after predicting that the school could not re-open as scheduled. This method made the most sense in under the current circumstances as it has allowed teachers to maintain their connection with their pupils and impart knowledge as effectively as possible. Considering that our pupils in the Primary School were unfamiliar with online learning, our teaching team kept adjusting and trying new methods to offer useful and engaging learning experiences. Even though the epidemic interrupted our teaching plan designed to be conducted on campus, it could not adversely affect the overall learning environment of our Huili community.   1.Designing online teaching courseware The Primary School’s classes mainly revolve around giving pupils guidance and interaction. How can we ensure that pupils remain focused and get high-quality lessons when they get started with online learning? Teachers designed their teaching slides and materials based on experiences of their repeated simulation of real classes. Knowledge easily understood in classes is broken down into small learning tasks suitable for online education. They also insert their audio instructions into slides, offering pupils clearer understanding of the interactive and instructive advice. What’s more, details and instructions on the slides are adjusted in accordance with feedback from pupils and parents to make teaching materials increasingly suitable to our online teaching mode. After finishing the teaching tasks set for pupils of a specific age and stage, teachers assign corresponding targeted exercises with the purpose of checking how well pupils have mastered said tasks. Then, they can follow adjust the subsequent teaching content and consolidate what they have learned.   2.Teaching related to life As our daily life is largely restricted to our homes during these unusual circumstances, the Huili academic team continues to adjust its teaching content in terms of themes, methods and developing habits, making it possible to connect teaching to pupils’ daily lives.By taking advantage of studying at home, pupils are able to have a better understanding of the knowledge imparted because they are rooted to their daily lives, which also inspires them to explore more aspects of their lives.

▲ Pupils' assignments on epidemic prevention tips

During maths online classes, our teaching accentuates pupils’ understanding of everyday concepts such as currency, time, length, weight and measurement.

We motivate pupils to cook pizza with their mother and measure the weight of each ingredient; discuss with their father the purchase of family protective materials and the weekly expenditure on face masks. They are also advised to record their daily routines and time spent on their homework, which is a good opportunity to teach them the concept of time and the importance of time management. The connection between learning and life makes pupils eager to learn, which helps us achieve our teaching goals and improve pupils’ ability to take care of themselves. Pupils are able to realise that what they learned can be applied to their daily lives and are willing to think independently, observe and engage more actively in what they are doing.   3.Differentiated online teaching At Huili, form tutors set up their office desks in the classroom to stay withpupils that they teach for the whole school day. The long time spent together enables teachers to get to know each pupils very well. During the period of preparing online lessons, teachers take all-round consideration of each pupils’ learning conditions and accommodate their level of understanding when planning their teaching. They take necessary actions to consolidate pupils’ understanding of various knowledge points and make sure that every pupil has a solid command of them.   In light of the different learning habits of pupils, teachers provide more personalised learning modes for pupils to improve their leaning efficiency. They also offer extended learning opportunities for those who can digest more content other than the basic knowledge, keeping them motivated to explore learning. Pupils who meet challenges in online learning are reassured to have appropriate and targeted coaching from their teachers. Pupils are also encouraged to discuss their assignments with peers to achieve a greater sense of collective progress. Homework of Mike, a G5 pupilMike, is fond of delving into topics that interest him. Online classes play to his advantage of independent exploration. He showed great interest in the rules of prime numbers when learning the unit of prime and composite numbers. His teacher introduced the Goldbach Conjecture as a supplement part for those who are capable of more in-depth exploration. Mike exchanged his thoughts and ideas with his teacher and their topics extended from prime numbers to the mathematicians Chen Jingrun and Harald Helfgott. This example demonstrates how teaching and learning are mutually promoted. It is through his interest that Mike was driven to have a solid command of the knowledge and thus make considerable progress during this home-based learning period.   4.Combinedwith current affairs As the COVID-19 pandemic develops, China continues to aid other countries in dire need of support, after having controlled its own national epidemic scenario in a very short space of time. This is a highly appropriate response, given that the rest of the world gave China various forms of support in the early stages of the virus’s spread. It is worth noting that many beautiful Chinese classic poems lines were attached to protective materials when China received them. For example, “Fear not the want of armour, for mine is also yours to wear.” ; “While mountains and rivers separate us, we enjoy the same moonlight under same sky.” Touched by this, China believes that, “You toss me a peach; I give you white jade in return.” Chinese poemtry in practical communication In short, we will do what we can to give back to the world. These classic poems that speak to our inner hearts and bring us a humanistic perspective on this crisis are relevant subject material for our Chinese teaching. The Chinese teaching team has designed the activity of commenting on current affairs for higher graders in the Primary School, enabling pupils to understand the viewpoints and actions of China when they compare those of different media outlets. In the meantime, they can learn to distinguish empirical facts from opinion-based commentaries while expressing their own opinions on the current situation, based on reliable information sources. This tells pupils that they need to acquire information from multiple channels if they want to distinguish clearly between right and wrong and have their own independent thoughts on the subject. “We pay consistent attention to pupils’ learning progress, particularly at the current eLearning stage. Hence, we adopt the output teaching mode to a great extent, giving them more trust and opportunities to conduct independent learning and encouraging them to apply obtained knowledge wherever they are needed. This is what we call utilising what you have learned,” said Daisy, Head of Chinese.   5.Online teaching research In order to improve the efficiency of long-distance teaching, online discussions and screen sharing have become popular new ways for teachers to exchange their thoughts on a better teaching model. This is how online teaching research comes to life. A well acknowledged and fruitful teaching approach will be shared to other teachers whether they are in the same department or not. Under the premise that the teaching schedule is guaranteed, teachers will brainstorm to explore more effective methods to maintain their high teaching quality, namely, open-ended preparation of courseware, content closely connected to life, heuristic and output teaching modes, etc. Online teaching data will help teachers to judge how well each pupil perform in classes as well as finish their assignments. The more comprehensive the data is, the more it allows teachers to find out what pupils are responding well to, and where other pupils might be struggling. Teachers use this data to make suitable adjustments to their teaching process, allowing them to balance the overall requirements of their classes while taking into account individual pupils’ needs, preferences, strengths and weaknesses. In this fast-paced technological era, schools that want to deliver progressive education need to access and master various advanced resources to keep its pace with the times. The problems of more traditional education methods are shackles that must be broken in the Digital Age. Besides the knowledge included in the academic framework, Huili teachers are active in seeking out suitable internet resources to aid pupils’ extensive studying and broaden their horizons. These online resources and pioneering teaching spirit will continue to be applied to classes when we return to the campus. 6.Transition to the school re-opening Teachers strictly follow the syllabus to ensure the smooth progression of online teaching. In the meantime, they will continue to keep a close eye on each pupil’s progress to safeguard their learning capabilities. In accordance with feedback from phased exercises, teachers continue to complete their formative assessments on pupils and share this information with parents, with the expectation of improving the situation through concerted efforts. As the epidemic is now much more under control in China, teachers of all disciplines have begun to sort out knowledge points taught during the online learning process, make transition plans for the school’s re-opening and prepare the necessary personalised learning support programme. However, the experiences gained from online teaching and learning are invaluable references for the school to explore during the future development of our education offering. 7.Conclusion Many teachers feel that, “Thanks to Huili parents’ support and understanding during this time, we can work past our concerns and arrange online education in a more effective and inclusive way.” An inclusive, open-ended teaching style can greatly train pupils’ competence in independent inquiry. Their homework often amazes teachers as they complete it a very high standard. As we all know that teaching and learning are mutually promoted, teachers try their utmost to design inspiring courseware, while pupils’ interest and initiative showed during the learning process will in turn motivate teachers to keep improving their courses. Moreover, parents’ strong support makes it possible to form a good home-school partnership and maintain the development of the Huili community. All these factors have allowed the school to steadily conduct its teaching in a manner which embodies the characteristics of modern education suitable to the realities of the Digital Age. The safe, tidy and facility-renewed school is ready to welcome Huili pupils and teachers back. We believe that we will soon see each other again on our beautiful campus where we can enjoy the exuberant sounds of children who are delighted to be learning alongside their friends.

Where Next

Safeguarding
The Huili School Shanghai Community is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of its pupils.