Excellent eLearning in the English Department

Following up from last week’s post from the BWYA librarians, and previous posts from our excellent Chinese department [read here], this week continuing with the literacy theme, we spoke with three of our secondary school English teachers to learn how they have been inspiring our students to make the most of this time, and take their own learning to the next level.

In each example, you will see how our teachers have been hard at work learning new teaching techniques and styles, preparing specialised content fitting with the current times, and finding innovative solutions to overcome any barriers and ensure our students continue to receive the highest quality of education possible.

Firstly, we spoke with middle school teacher, Ms. Loredana Giovanelli, who has been teaching a Grade 6 Language and Literature class. In this class, the students have been learning about poetry as a medium for expressing feelings. As well as analysing the techniques and styles used in different types of poetry, the students were also all tasked with writing their own pieces, which they then performed and produced videos from. “All students have shown an incredible level of creativity considering their young age. Some poems are very dear and reflect their love and connection to nature and the environment. Classes have been amazingly fun with this incredible big group. They are so eager to start the class that they start the meeting before the scheduled time and make me an attendee. It’s a happy group and we have happy classes. We have music playing in the background and all of them are free to share their faces and take the microphone and speak and they do speak. Being home has not created separation at all. It has actually created an incredible and strong bond.”

Some videos produced in middle school classes have since been shared with doctors and nurses working around the world. One of these poems is Hope, by Sunny. As Loredana put it, “Her poem and video has become the manifesto for hope sent to all the doctors and nurses working in different countries.” You can view this video below. In addition to this, as the middle school SA coordinator, Loredana and her SA students have also been making the most of the internet in many other ways also to shed light on different topics. With three new online projects spearheaded by BWYA students [View here], they are adapting their workflow to study and learn the most, as well as bring about change to the world around them during this difficult time.

Grade 6 Sunny Qian’s poem, Hope
Encouragement for the medical staff of the world
6年级Sunny Qian的英文诗作《Hope 希望》

Grade 6 Emma Zong’s poem, The Moon
Unification under the moon
6年级Emma Zong的英文诗作《The Moon 月亮》

In the high school, this period has provided our older students with a unique opportunity to push themselves even further. In line with many of the IB and IGCSE core values, and indeed our own Schoolwide Learner Outcomes, our teachers have modified their teaching to further encourage the development of our resilient, adaptable learners. Under their careful guidance and instruction, and with much expert feedback, students are being encouraged to take more ownership of their own study, and thereby their future.

In the Grade 10 eAssessment Sustainability Unit, the students have been encouraged to look at their lives at home, think about what impact their everyday decisions are having, then present their findings in the form of videos. After first providing an example video to help steer them onto the right track, BWYA English teacher Mr. Reuben Haggar shared with us how he has been challenging his students to take more ownership of their learning during this period, “In many ways, it’s really a great opportunity for our students to develop themselves now. They could just put their work online and conduct themselves in basically the same way they would in class, just using computers instead of paper, OR, we can push them to really take advantage of the chance to learn stuff about Teams and other eLearning platforms, and really make use of all the resources available. This might even be in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a normal classroom.”

Grade 10 Alice Yu’s work on sustainability
10年级Alice Yu创作的环保评估视频

One final great example of the use of new technology in learning, has been in Mr. Simon Shieh’s class, preparing Grade 10 students for another eAssessment,  in which students are asked to analyse and evaluate videos. “Video and  film analysis are such important skills for 21st Century media literacy,  so I’m glad students are getting the chance to learn about them.  Rather than research and create a PPT myself, I wanted students to act  as curators of information and present their findings in an engaging  way” Simon shared with us. “Sway turned out to be a perfect platform for  this with its ability to seamlessly incorporate text, image, and video  files. I was pleasantly surprised by the result! I also learned a lot  myself.”

Online learning of course presents its own set of challenges, but in our 21st  century world, these are also great starting points for more personal  development. Simon continued, “I think it’s important to acknowledge the  challenges that it—and self-quarantine—presents. I have tried to be  open and honest with my students about the challenges I’ve been facing  in my professional life, which is now inextricably linked with my  personal life. I’ve shared solutions that I’ve found helpful, such as  separation of space, regular downtime and scheduled relaxation,  disconnecting from technology periodically, and getting outside to walk,  exercise, play, etc. In my teaching, I am trying to be more mindful and  empathetic of students’ perspectives. I believe that eLearning is  difficult for teachers, but much more difficult for students. Trusting  students, diversifying activities, and adjusting expectations have been  important to my teaching practice in this transition. I hope teachers,  students, and parents are reflecting on the mental and emotional stress  that quarantine induces, but also staying positive because there is  light at the end of the tunnel, and plenty of ways to stay happy and  healthy during this time.” 

At BWYA we continue to be proud of all that our students and teachers are achieving at this difficult time. We  hope that with these three examples, you can see how with the right  teachers, teaching, and a positive attitude, together we can learn and achieve great things.