Though not without challenges, some subjects such as English or History lend themselves to the digital world relatively well. Many of the resources that teachers and students use are online anyway, and the transfer of information, including instruction and feedback, can be completed with a simple download, document comment, or video call.
But what about subjects like Physical Education? By nature, P.E. is normally conducted in sports halls or on playing fields, rather than in classrooms, and certainly not within the confines of a domestic household. The students and teachers are face to face, with many activities involving physical coordination between different students or players, and the mirroring of physical movements modelled by a teacher are assessed and corrected in real-time - luxuries we don't have in the realm of distance learning.
However, at Shrewsbury International School Bangkok, Riverside, teachers have responded to the challenges presented by the current COVID-19 situation, and continue to demonstrate why Shrewsbury is one of the top international schools in Asia!
Head of Primary Physical Education (P.E.), Amy Coad and her team have wasted no time in creating a home learning curriculum that delivers key learning elements, and importantly, a mode for students to let off steam, and stay fit and healthy whilst at home.
"Obviously, our challenge is to keep it simple and fun, but most importantly, engaging. We don't want the children to just be filming themselves doing ordinary video exercises and uploading them to us - that is too easy," she remarked.
As an example of the Department's more creative approach, Ms Coad and her staff have adapted the traditional snakes and ladders board game to incorporate yoga poses. Each ladder finds its way to a new yoga pose, and each snake takes them back down to a rest situation. The aim is to go through the board, avoiding snakes, landing on ladders, and doing as many of the yoga exercises as possible.
Students have also been asked to design their own fitness workout that uses as many muscles as possible and challenges them physically. From there P.E. staff ask their students questions about their plan such as: What parts of the body are you using? Why should you do this exercise longer? And, How often should you repeat this exercise? This reflective feedback process challenges students to think carefully about what they are trying to achieve, and how they can improve.
Ms Coad says her students are contributing fantastically, and despite being at home, they are making the best of a difficult situation.
"It's been really encouraging to see that the vast majority of tasks we've been setting have been completed promptly. I can check up on all of the classes using our online learning platforms, such as Google Classroom. Here I comment on their work, offer encouragement and guide them through the next task. Everyone at Shrewsbury has been pitching in to help, and our I.T. department has given several tutorials that have been pretty useful in helping students and staff get up to speed with online tools"
So whilst students are stuck at home, Ms Coad and the Primary PE department are using the opportunity to think outside the box. They are currently editing a dance video they filmed with a green screen. Students will be asked to have an 'online dance-off' with friends or family. From there they can upload the results for P.E. to see.
Above: from green screen to your home scene; the PE crew are here to get you moving!
And the Primary P.E. staff are certainly not alone in harnessing the power of technology. Shrewsbury’s Strength and Conditioning team have created their very own app, with graded workouts for beginner, intermediate and advanced level athletes; something for students, staff and even parents to try, and keep themselves in tip top shape whilst at home.
Make sure you check out our social media pages for examples of this and much more as we use the school closure to connect digitally with families, friends and the school community.