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Blended Learning with Apple Classroom

Across the world, schools have started to return to face-to-face teaching. It looks different on a school by school basis, and at 407 Learning we have seen many different types of blended learning approaches. Some schools are operating a Group A/Group B day or week-on-week-off type of operation, some schools are splitting their class across two rooms with a third group at home on a rotating basis, and so on. Each school is unique based on their own circumstances, social distancing capabilities, size and local regulations. Many schools also have students that can’t return to face-to-face teaching for a multitude of reasons.

What is generally consistent in every situation is that in the face to face classroom setting, teachers and students are maintaining social distancing. Each student perhaps has a pack of resources at their desks, and a defined distance is maintained between everyone. This is difficult - especially with younger learners.

In the classic face to face teaching model, social distancing makes it very difficult for teachers to provide written feedback on student work, or to give verbal feedback as they can’t get close enough to the work to actually see it. Operating in bubbles, many schools have restrictions on photocopying and the distribution of learning resources, textbooks and so on. This presents a challenge for teachers and leaders not seen before in a face to face teaching environment. Social distancing in the classroom has required the rethinking of lesson design and adaptations in lesson delivery. Teachers are also tasked with the delivery of face to face AND online learning concurrently. It is essential that schools maintain delivery of high-quality teaching and learning, continue to provide effective feedback, ongoing assessment and show progress. As a result, successful schools have spent time rethinking and reimagining lesson design, the tools they use to engage learners and the platforms they use to deliver lessons and content.

Apple Classroom: An Elegant Solution

We are working with schools, leaders and teachers across the world to assist with blended learning teaching models and lesson design. For schools with student and teacher iPads there is one tool that is proving to be the most effective: Apple Classroom.

Apple Classroom has been around for a while now and those that use it love it already. But now the landscape is different. The classic elevator pitch for Apple Classroom was that it was an excellent tool for classroom and workflow management. Now that teachers can’t physically go near their students, Apple Classroom is a superb tool for providing and sharing digital learning resources between students and teachers, providing feedback loops, assessing learning, sharing good work, allowing for effective modelling and information flow. Especially if coupled with an online learning platform such as Seesaw. If your classes have access to student iPads, then consider Apple Classroom an essential tool.

Classroom Example

In the following example from a teacher we have been working with, a class of 6 & 7-year-olds were engaged in an English lesson centred around the book ‘The Robot and The Bluebird’ by David Lucas. The first task was a synonym task, with students using a thesaurus to find synonyms for given words. Physical thesauruses could not be used due to the restriction on using learning resources. The activity was set in Seesaw, and by utilising Apple Classroom, the teacher could instantly share with the student iPads the correct URL so that they could navigate to an online thesaurus to start researching their words. Not only did this save time meaning the children could start their task quicker, but it also solved the age-old problem with younger learners of helping them navigate to a lengthy URL without having to help them type, retype and correct their misspelt URLs. All this without breaking social distancing guidelines.

By using the ‘view screen’ function in Apple Classroom, the teacher could view each student’s individual iPad screen and provide ongoing verbal feedback to individual students from a safe social distance, allowing them to be supported in their work.

In the following example, the teacher could monitor the progress of a child who was working in a different area, outside of the classroom. The student uses voice typing to dictate their typing for various reasons, so therefore needs a quieter area to work. By viewing the student screen from their teacher device, the teacher could monitor the progress of the student without breaking social distancing rules or interrupting their concentration - in this case watching the dictation occurring live as the student was working.

Teacher could view the dictation live

The following series of screenshots demonstrates how the teacher was able to provide ongoing feedback and support to a student throughout the task of mapping the character emotions through the story. In this first screenshot, the student did not understand the task, and the teacher could view the student screen to further explain the task.

Teacher viewed student screen and could explain the task again

Later in the lesson, the teacher was able to view their screen again to check their understanding and progress, providing ongoing verbal feedback and then watch the student make the appropriate corrections.

Teacher could view student screen and provide feedback

Note the changes to reflect student response to feedback

And finally - to celebrate success, the teacher was able to view a student screen which contained great work, and then mirror their teacher device to the main screen at the front of the class, to model a good example for the rest of the class to see and provide whole class feedback. Whilst doing that, the other student iPads were remotely locked by the teacher to ensure students wouldn’t be distracted by their own devices in front of them.

Once the task was complete and the lesson nearing its end, the students could complete their activity in Seesaw and submit it digitally for the teacher to review later. The teacher could then review the work and provide audio or written feedback on student work via Seesaw. (So Seesaw isn’t just for home learning - it has a place in the classroom too, especially in times of social distancing regulations.)

If you have access to student and teacher devices in your classroom, Apple Classroom should be an essential tool for countering the complications of social distancing whilst maintaining great feedback loops, creating and developing deeper learning tasks and providing students with effective learning experiences. All from a distance.

This post is one example of effective teaching and learning in the current climate of distance/hybrid/blended learning. We are working with many school leaders and teachers across Asia and the world. We offer teacher-centric workshops on lesson design and delivery or technology tools for effective teaching and learning. We also offer leadership sessions focused on building effective frameworks and professional learning pathways. In addition we offer bespoke sessions for your particular school needs. Please get in touch to find out more.

Credit: J King @jayk_VII

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