Chiltern PS: Embracing ICT in remote learning

CEP’s Jeremy Campbell speaks with Shelby Hanby, a young teacher from Chiltern Primary School who has been instrumental in supporting her school to make a successful transition to online learning.

When did you Graduate university?
I graduated from Charles Sturt University in 2014, with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary).

What schools have you taught at?
I first started casual teaching at a range of both Catholic and Public schools in 2016. Most schools within a 100km radius of home, I was very busy that particular year! After that, I received my first 12 month contract at Peranbin Primary School. I then went on to have 12 month contracts at Yackandandah PS, Rutherglen PS and then here at Chiltern PS.

Why Chiltern and what do you enjoy about the school? 
I have always loved the smaller schools. I went to a small primary school myself so I guess Chiltern feels a little like home. I am passionate about education in rural communities and enjoy the learning opportunities there. I am currently employed here 4 days a week, so it was also the perfect working conditions for me to complete my Graduate Certificate in Primary Mathematics (which I am currently completing).

How have you coped this year in the current climate and what tools/programs have you accessed to support your teaching?
Considering all negatives aside (I am sure no school wants to teach remotely!) I believe we as a school have coped really well. It has definitely had its challenges, but we have met each one head on and overcome them. We have such supportive staff here at Chiltern which I think has made a big difference when supporting each other and the schooling community.

Currently, we have helped each other access and use Webex, which we use for explicit teaching. I have also introduced Seesaw to the school which has allowed us to monitor students progress and assign learning activities in an online platform. The overall feedback for this program has been positive from staff, students and families. I have also introduced Writing Legends, which is an online writing tool. Our current AIP goal is to improve student performance in Writing, and since we are now completing two terms worth of work online, it was essential that we keep our writing focus at the forefront of our planning. Writing Legends has given our students a way for continual practise of the writing process, while also allowing teachers to check progress and provide feedback. We have only just implemented this program, but so far the feedback has been positive.

Classes have also been accessing Epic! Books for Kids which is a great online library of thousands of books and audio books. With libraries closed it has been great that students are able to access a wealth of reading materials for free.

We have also started implementing Reading Eggs which has been helpful as another platform to encourage and improve reading across the school.

How have the changes of using technology during the remote learning phase influenced you with what you are doing now? How has it influenced the students, staff and wider community?

Before the announcement of online learning (again), it helped us to see the greater potential for the use of ICT in mainstream schooling. I had started to introduce to staff some more online programs and apps relating to coding that we were going to explore this year, but the announcement of the return to online learning has put that on back burner.

Instead, we have introduced Writing Legends and are continuing to use Seesaw and Webex.

We have had many discussions as a staff in regards to ensuring all students have equal access to ICT as they progress through home learning. Thankfully feedback from the schooling community has been overwhelmingly positive.

What are the next steps or possibilities in ICT at Chiltern PS?

At the moment we are working through our curriculum via online learning platforms. When we returned to face-to-face learning at the end of remote learning 1.0, we extended the use of Seesaw use within the classroom as student engagement and feedback have been extremely positive. We extended an invitation to parents to participate in viewing their child’s learning and leave comments on their child’s learning journey. We were hoping to look into some coding apps and websites but we shall see how the remainder of the year goes. At the moment we are all working incredibly hard to maintain the great things we are already implementing and to keep the students and the schooling community positive as we navigate through these interesting times.

I would like to sincerely thank the staff at CPS. They have been incredibly supportive and have approached new ideas with such positivity. It has definitely made implementing these new online platforms so easy and they have gone out of their way to learn how to really engage with the technology. This is truly reflected in the positive feedback from the students and school community. We have received such positive feedback to what we are implementing and I am excited to see where this journey can take us.