High Notes, Vol 21 No 11, April 10 2020

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From the Principal

Secretary & Deputy Secretary Briefing
2 April 2020

On advice from the Commissioner of Police NSW, we will have the current social distancing regulations applying for 90 days. The practical effect is that all of Term 2 will be disrupted.  We ought to prepare for online delivery as the mode for all of Term 2 – ‘flexible distance learning’.  Our challenge is how to make the model we have chosen sustainable. (In our case, individual faculties have determined what means of conferencing, ‘announcements’, quizzes, tests, discussions and time for task completion, works for them. Each faculty has submitted a plan for the month of May.) The wellbeing of students, teachers and parents is important. As a school system we need to ensure that each student is ‘known, valued and cared for’.

Overall attendance shows the online/flexible distance learning model has 95% of students learning from home, with close to 100% in secondary schools. The question becomes ‘what is the core staffing level required to operate a school? (More information in answer to that questions will be formulated in term 2).

A recent IT survey drew 1600 responses. In general terms it revealed that about 30% of teachers are ‘really into technology!’ From a system perspective, this figure needs to go to 100%. More professional learning time will be made available to staff during term 2 with a view to increasing the technologically savvy percentage upward. Teachers are reminded to access the ‘Learning from Home’ website.(At High, our staff percentage ‘into technology’ is possibly in the 90s already.)

NESA has made announcements in relation to HSC Assessments, Year 11 assessments, HSC practicals for drama groups and music ensembles, and has yet to decide on the future of major works. More announcements are likely. So, what will the HSC look like this year if there is a serious disruption to learning? The situation is evolving, and decisions will be made in term 2. [Recent assurances (7.4.2020) from state premiers and Dan Tehan, suggest that all student will get an HSC and some kind of ATAR will be calculated. The details remain unannounced].

In terms of assessment and reporting ‘there is a little bit of runway left to decide about reports for semester one and parent-teacher nights.’  Modifications may be needed. (At High we are planning to modify our reports to simplify the process and compress the date for reports to be completed to around June 30, depending upon whether Parent-Teacher Nights are cancelled for 2020 or not. Mr Dowdell is working on redesigning the report layout, a small team will work on standardising a learning behaviours rubric for use by staff and PEWCC reporting may be modified late in the term to reflect student growth 7-9 and 8-10 more effectively.  We hope to turn the disruptive threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity to re-conceptualise and re-frame our reporting system.)

Attendance Monitoring

Parents are reminded that the second attendance monitory protocol occurred again this week, focussed on attendance for the preceding five school days. The objective is to work together with parents to maximise student learning. We understand that absences can be affected in the online learning scenario by blackouts or technology failures. These will become explained absences – students who are proud of their perfect attendance record will be compensated for absences outside of their control, not unlike when there is a withdrawal of labour that closes down transport networks or indeed schools. Mr Dowdell will make sure the most deserving students are awarded their ‘perfect attendance’ status.

The Student Awards Scheme

The Student Awards Scheme has been impacted badly by COVID-19. It is possible that all we can count is the summer season. All winter activities, competitions, year-long activities, and community/school service will be affected, thereby reducing points available. The scheme is designed to recognise participation but this year participation possibilities have been decimated. Given that the Scheme is a cumulative one cover six years, this year cannot be easily cancelled. During term two we will figure out a way forward that is equitable for those many students involved in the Awards Scheme. Before applying a formula to the numerical and category requirements of the Scheme to make levels attainable, Mr Dowdell will have to wait and see whether indeed we return to normal operations in Term 3. The first question is – how much of the year is lost in terms of time? The second question is in terms of lost opportunities to earn points.

Sydney Boys High School and Remote Learning – A Recent Survey.

What technology and apps are you using?
CANVAS discussion groups, ZOOM, meet.Google.com, Microsoft teams, ClickView, Big Blue Button conferencing.

Are you doing live-streamed interactive classes, pre-recording lessons, getting students to complete tasks independently, or is there a mix?
Synchronous delivery at least once per class per week, asynchronous pre-loaded / recorded material for many lessons, independent completion of assigned work for teachers absent and not on duty.

Do you require or encourage students to wear school uniform? Why or why not?
Appropriate attire while engaged in online learning is expected.

Are you sticking to the six/seven-hour school day, or are students working at their own pace? And have you tweaked your regular timetables at all?
Yes, the school timetable has been preserved. Students are required to log on when their scheduled class is due to begin. Year 12 timetable has been tweaked. HSC assessments moved from onsite tasks to online tasks where possible in weeks 10 and 11.

How are you monitoring student works and progress?

  1. Monitoring online attendance
  2. Checking progress on-line with quizzes and time-bound tasks
  3. Work submitted as evidence of participation and outcomes achievement
  4. Participation in discussion groups
  5. Interactive videos / recorded videos with forced response pauses.

Any other detail about how you are navigating these work-from-home arrangements that you think is interesting.

  • Student access to ClickView/e-books, audio books through student portal
  • Career interviews Year 12 online
  • Values Education lessons prepared for mental health check etc.
  • Online physical education practicals / warm up routines.
  • Integration online physical tasks in PASS course in Year 10.
  • Exercises and sport -specific training videos for Sport

Dr K A Jaggar

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