Our Principal, Emma Shanahan, recently shared Aspen’s distance learning journey with Abu Dhabi World Magazine. Read all about what she had to say. Don’t miss the tips that Bharat Mansukhani, the ISP Middle East Managing Director, shared for how parents can support distance learning.
How prepared was Aspen School for the present ‘crisis’?
One of our priorities at Aspen Heights British School is to encourage children to be reflective, independent learners across the school from nursery and FS, through to Secondary. We are exceptionally well resourced with technology, and a focus for this academic year has been training teachers to utilize technology to facilitate pupil independence, personalization of learning and online
collaboration. Senior colleagues received training from a UK expert, and cascaded this to colleagues throughout the school. This means that e-learning was already in use in every department across the school. We were able to extend this to children at home with a few changes. We are delighted that we were in such a fortunate position and have been reaching out to other schools to support them in developing their e-learning.
Were students already learning/having lessons online before this crisis?
At Aspen Heights British School Google Classroom has been used during class teaching in order to support differentiation and collaborative work in primary and secondary classes. Class Dojo was used in foundation stage to facilitate family communication regarding learning. See-saw was used more recently in the second term for a cross- Primary trial and we fast- tracked its roll-out so that we could enable all families in Primary to access their children’s learning online. Our Arabic department utilize Asafeer and Alef as platforms to enhance learning in lessons, and as homework. These platforms will continue to be used during our distance learning period.
Please explain how your school is approaching distance learning?
We are a remarkably supportive, resilient and creative community. We are prepared and poised to launch our distance learning programme for our whole school. Children are very familiar with the platforms used and we have shared family guides for each platform, relating to the year group their child is in. Staff worked collaboratively to produce lessons based on their plans for learning. Videos, audio files describing power points have all been created and are ready for upload on the 22nd March.
What does distance learning look like? How does it work?
We have advised our Aspen Heights families to keep a routine! Bedtimes, regular mealtimes and health routines are key. Every day children will take part in lessons appropriate to their age. They will log onto the platform they are using. We emphasized E-safety to families – children should not access the internet in isolation from a family member.
School is not just about academics, it is about learning social skills too, right? How are you approaching this concept?
During distance learning students will be given the opportunity to further develop skills like self-motivation, time management and independent learning. But beyond that we have always encouraged our families to support children in keeping balance in their lives; cooking, playing a board game, being active and completing a HIIT workout. In addition to the formal academic curriculum, at Aspen Heights we are launching an accessible ECA distance learning programme with different skills- crochet, origami, and cooking. We are hopeful that our community will positively embrace this opportunity to learn something new and interesting together. By seeing this uniquely challenging time as an opportunity to do something different, we will all be able to glean many positives.
Emma Shanahan, Principal