Remote learning plotting …

Our new situation has plunged us into uncertainty. It has thrown up new ways of thinking, new ways of being. It has knocked us sideways, made us question everything and wonder what education, and the world as a whole, will look like at the other side.

What has made this situation more manageable, for me, is caring educators coming together to solve problems and collaboratively pave new ways forward. A shining example of this has been Trevor MacKenzie, Kath Murdoch and Kimberley Mitchell’s “#inquirybythefire” – A “fireside” chat between 3 amazing educators about how we, as educators, can navigate this situation.

How are inquiry and the LPA interlinked?

Those of you who are familiar with inquiry and the Learning Power Approach will know, there are very strong links between the two, a link which Kath and I are exploring in a series of blogposts (latest post here) and Kath has highlighted in her latest book, The Power of Inquiry. Some of these links include:

  • Curiosity being the driver for children’s learning
  • Questioning, planning, collaborating all being part of a rich learning process.
  • Shared “Design Principles”, such as thoughtful learning environment design and children having ownership over their learning.
  • Putting children in the “driving seat” of their learning and the teacher taking on more of a role of a coach or guide.

So, the inquiry process fascinates me and is one I will continue to learn about and incorporate into my teaching next year.

Even if you work in a school that doesn’t have inquiry at its heart, I think there are valuable opportunities for inquiry – You just need to get used to looking for the signs and the links. I warmly invite you to comment below on how you have tried this – or ask questions too and we can explore further!

How have we used the discussion from “Inquiry by the Fire”?

We used “Inquiry by the Fire” as our own provocation in “Learning Pioneers” – An international community of leading learning power practitioners who are problem-solving ways to deepen the LPA in their (currently remote) learning contexts.

Collectively being part of a “Watch Party” meant we could pick up on ideas that resonated with us in our own remote learning contexts and co-create ideas for ways we could plan these elements into our remote learning over the coming weeks. We would like to share this thinking and “plan” so that you can use any of it that is useful and to invite you to use it and offer feedback and ideas.

Key points we picked up on in relation to remote learning:

  • KIS – Keep. It. Simple.
  • The priority needs to be looking after our own, our children and our community well-being.
  • We can put children in the driving seat of their learning by empowering them from a remote context.
  • Can we plan open-ended learning which threads together all areas of the curriculum and works on all layers of the “Learning River”
  • We can provide frameworks for parents and students to succeed – Giving them tools, not “spoon-feeding.”

Below are some main points from our discussion and possible ways forward:

“Parents want checklists, children want inquiry” – Can we provide both?! Therefore supporting parents and helping them feel secure and giving everyone the permission to play and relax into learning.

“Guiding parents to support rather than lead” – use of questioning frameworks here? Videos modelling?

“An opportunity to spend quality time together” – making “permission giving” explicit to families – “It’s okay”

From this we came up with a driving question to explore in Learning Pioneers this term:

“How can we tip the scale to empower all children and parents to have more likelihood of children returning to school with more resilience, more ownership over their learning and more independence and resourcefulness to solve problems?”

Then, we took all our collective ideas and made them into a 6 week plan we will explore within the community over the coming weeks.

Well-being – week 1

Our own. Our team’s. Our children’s. Our communities.

How are we “Keeping it Simple”? What are our plans to strip back and make sure we start from strong foundations? Clear boundaries (with ourselves and our teams). Clear expectations and warm understanding with our families. Empathy, reaching out. Being kind to ourselves and others.

Could we include communication in this? How are we communicating with our teams, families (our own and within our school communities)? How are we making things clear?

How can we reach to families in more difficult situations and contexts. “remote inclusion”. Use of surveys, reaching out to parents – how do we make these meaningful, relevant, empathetic.

Every day learning opportunities – week 2

Sharing every day learning opportunities with parents. Giving “permission” to “get lost in” and revel in these. E.g. cleaning the house, gardening, going for a walk and noticing in nature …

Empowering parents to see the value and opportunities in these moments.

Where is the learning? What is the learning?

Ways of children feedback back, “Being a fantastic family member” “Being a fantastic community member” “What makes me happy?”

Why is this important now? Why is it important anyway? What can we learn from this moving forward?

Open-ended and meaningful learning opportunities – Week 3

How are we supporting parents and children and providing provocations to spark interest, inquiry and investigation?

Why is this important (why do we think this is valuable? How can we make this visible to parents? How can we involve parents?)

“It’s about allowing us to think about “the could” and not “the should” learn.”

Learning Pioneer

The Power of Play – week 4

“Play doesn’t require children to have access to the internet or and fancy resources”

Learning Pioneer member

How can we capitalise on this to free parents up to be more playful? To feel like they can succeed? To use this as an opportunity to connect with their own playfulness and reconnect with their children?

How can we use this for all ages?!

Building snowmen, building dens, cooking with the family.

Connection – week 5

“Online conferences with my class have been the most valuable thing during lockdown”

“We miss gathering around the campfire!”

How are we using conferencing to connect in different ways? How can we use our time meaningfully and efficiently with this?

Sharing ideas and different models that have worked (and haven’t). Fine-tuning what we have. E.g. What questions do we ask?

Sharing learning – week 6

Finding ways to share learning between families and students.

Use tech to amplify this. Reviews via Padlet, videos, flipgrid.

This could potentially lead us into exploring different ways of giving and receiving feedback remotely. This would have been our final theme (reflection, improvement and craftsmanship). “Austin’s butterfly-style” feedback.

Focusing on what’s important

We loved what Kath Murdoch said about focusing on what’s important. Assessment is what we do all the time every day – She said “It’s useless if it doesn’t tell us anything”. Well-being, empathy and meaningful learning have to come before everything else. So, it makes sense to get the well-being and the learning right before thinking about feedback and evaluation models.

We wanted to share our model firstly so that others can use it too and, secondly, for any feedback or ideas from others.

We would love to hear about:

  • How others have incorporated and responded to #inquirybythefire
  • How others are planning meaningful, enjoyable and inspiring remote learning that empowers learners through independence.

Please share below or on social media!

Oh, and Learning Pioneers are always looking for new minds to plot with. Find out more here.

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