Learning in WINTER Lockdown
Learning during the third lockdown
As the first half term of 2021 comes to a close, we look back at January (see A Challenging Month) and February and reflect on how pupils and staff are coping with lockdown learning in Winter.
Whilst in some ways much more challenging than last Spring (less daylight, sub zero temperatures, the pure tedium of not meeting others), on the positive side we are now all more accustomed to this way of delivering and receiving live lessons via MS Teams and specific tasks set in SMHW. Staff and pupils alike are sharing tips on how to use Teams and proving themselves capable learners. We are a resourceful and resilient school community. We know that things are not easy for many people but we can still choose to appreciate the positives we find (a sunny day, a child's laughter, random acts of kindness, a snow day, a chat with a friend, family walks, a creative outlet) and we are certainly looking forward to the longer days, the onset of Spring and social contact outside of our households when the time comes.
Click on each Faculty below to find out via our Heads of Faculty what our pupils have been doing...
Mrs Pennington, Head of Maths:
Mathematics lends itself, on the whole, to remote learning probably better than most subjects. There have been super levels of engagement in lessons and attendance across all year groups has been consistently high. The mix of tasks we are able to provide: online, worksheets, games, recipe work etc has helped maintain interest and momentum throughout the school.
The instantaneous nature of technology means that live lessons move at pace, which, when balanced with independent practice time, provide a feeling of 'normality' which we think pupils have appreciated and felt reassured by. In many ways the teaching of maths at Deer Park is ‘business as usual’. The learning has continued unabated as we progress through our Schemes of Work, following The National Curriculum.
Pupils in Key Stage 4 this term have been working on angle calculations in polygons, real-life graphs, circle theorems, surds and geometric proof. We have witnessed pupils taking more responsibility and ownership of their learning, including seeking extra help, making use of drop-in sessions and requesting additional practise work, all of which will stand them in good stead for the future.
In Key Stage 3 there have been fantastic levels of enthusiasm towards their online learning. Pupils have been studying probability, fractions, circle calculations, solving equations and trigonometry. We have seen their confidence and resilience grow as they strive to tackle some challenging concepts.
As well as providing support for the pupils, our Maths teachers continue to provide mutual support by observing one another’s live lessons, sharing resources and MS Teams ‘top tips’ during our Faculty meetings. Though we are apart, we continue to function effectively as a whole.
A teacher’s perspective from Mr Ellen: In terms of being a teacher, you can always teach an old dog new tricks. Twelve months ago, who had really ever heard of, let alone used, MS Teams? I have learnt a whole new way of teaching. I love it and I'm always looking for a new idea or tip to offer something different or creative in a lesson that resonates with pupils that makes the difference. That said, the pupils too have rapidly adapted to change and perhaps the introduction of technology into the classroom in the future does have its place - it poses many new questions, but isn't that what teaching is about? It's not reinventing the wheel, but making and refining a concept to fit the vehicle?
A key part of any English lesson, and something we all enjoy, is encouraging pupils to share their ideas and take part in discussion, so the announcement on 4 January that pupils were to return to remote learning, was greeted with us by a mixture of disappointment and determination. We had done this before and we could do it again…
I’m very proud of the way the Faculty has forged ahead with developing their teaching in these challenging times: sharing ideas, experimenting with newly discovered technology to find additional ways of increasing pupil participation and engagement, adding variety to their online lessons. This resilience and flexibility on the part of teachers has meant we have been able to continue following our curriculum as planned this term. Without doubt, pupils are to be commended too: I have had the privilege of dropping in to a variety of English lessons this term and have been impressed by their enthusiasm and willingness to participate.
Year 7 have been enjoying extracts from ‘Oliver Twist’ for a unit entitled ‘Introduction to Charles Dickens and the Victorian context’; this lays the foundations for later study of the 19th Century novel. Work has included writing analytically about character as well as developing their own descriptive writing. Particular enthusiasm was shown for the task requiring them to create their own villain using zoomorphism.
Our Year 8 pupils have been building on their Year 7 Introduction to Poetry unit with further study where they have learned to produce a written response comparing two poems. Poems studied have included works by William Blake, Seamus Heaney and William Wordsworth.
In Year 9 pupils have been engaged in a study of ‘Literature Through Time’, reading a range of extracts to develop their knowledge of the literary canon, from the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘Beowulf’ to Susan Hill’s ‘Woman in Black’. Exploring a writer’s use of language and structure is helping them prepare for a Year 9 exam to take place later in the year. The extracts from some classic texts, like Pepys’ diary, ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ have acted as stimuli for pupils’ own creative writing.
Pupils in Year 10 have embarked on a study of their next GCSE Literature text: Stevenson’s ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. This is not the easiest text to read remotely, however they have impressed teachers with their resilience and determination to understand the complex Victorian vocabulary, as well as some sophisticated contextual ideas, like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Lombroso’s Theory of Atavism.
In the face of ongoing uncertainty around GCSEs, Year 11 have been pressing on determinedly with revision and practice for all elements of the Language and Literature examinations. It has been heartening to see them continuing to give their very best, communicating with teachers about areas where they lack understanding and in some cases, seeking out extra opportunities to practise.
Dr Tipping, Head of Science:
The whole of the Science Faculty have been determined to teach remote lessons that are as close to real lessons as possible. We have followed the same Schemes of Learning and maintained the same rate of progress that we would normally expect. Year 11 have studied every module. This will prepare them for their future lives and, if they choose, for future scientific study. We have made a temporary transition to online tests in all year groups to ensure that the pupils keep good revision routines. When the pupils return to school, they will take part in the key practicals that they have watched remotely, within government safety guidelines.
We have been really impressed by the engagement of our classes, especially in live lessons. We have endeavoured to make Science lessons engaging, with a range of presentations and interactive activities. In Key Stage 3, pupils have been enjoying discovering the wonders of Space, chemical reactions and investigating the facts behind environmental change. Their commitment has been highly evident in their submitted work, some of which is included below.
In Languages this term we have carried on with our curriculum, giving pupils the opportunity to practice new vocabulary and structures. One of the GCSE topics is Customs and Festivals. The pupils have to have an understanding of the main festivals in the Francophone, Hispanic or Germanic world, so that they can answer questions about them, as well as describe how they are celebrated and give their opinions. In addition to looking at important dates in the calendar, we also look at other types of festival like music and dance festivals.
In Year 10 this term we have looked at La Fête Nationale in France, Zuckertüten in Germany and El Día de los Muertos in the Spanish speaking world.
In Key Stage 3 we also introduce pupils to the different way festivals are celebrated in other countries. In Year 8 both the French and German groups have looked at a festival. In French we have looked at La Chandeleur, where pancakes are made and eaten, although not for the same reasons as they are on Shrove Tuesday. In German we have looked at Karneval or Fasching.
Mr Ferne, Head of Humanities:
Across the Humanities faculty learning has continued at a pace during the latest period of remote learning.
In Business Studies, pupils have continued to impress as they develop their understanding and look to apply this knowledge to the ever-changing business world.
In Geography lessons, pupils have continued to explore the world around them. News articles, books, documentaries, photographs and creative tasks have brought new and exciting locations and processes to life at a time when we are all physically limited in our exploring. We are thrilled with the outstanding quality of their work!
Finally, in History, pupils have continued to delve into the archives of British and world History to expand their knowledge and key transferable skills. We have been particularly impressed with the maturity of Year 8 during their study of the transatlantic slave trade and the Year 11 revision escape room certainly made the revision process more exciting!
Ethics & Computing
Since the start of January, there has been a hive of activity in the Ethics and Computing Faculty. All lessons have been adapted to remote learning and the delivery is more slick in comparison to the first lockdown. Pupils throughout Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 have had a balance of Teams and SMHW lessons. The highlight being Teams lessons where pupils have actively engaged with their teachers and there is interaction via the unmute, meeting chat and hands up.
In Religious Philosophy the use of a starter or plenary Kahoot quiz has proved a hit! Engagement levels have been impressive and so has the quality of work submitted by pupils. The recently discovered Nearpod had provided us with the opportunity to gain an immediate temperature check of the level of pupil understanding in our Teams lessons.
In Global Citizenship and PSHEe pupils have been given a range of challenges, for example Year 8 challenges are around Current Affairs. The challenges have been well received and amazing work has been recorded.
The Year 10 and 11 pupils studying Child Development have been a credit to themselves and Miss Brace and Mrs Millar have said it has been a privilege to work with them. They have demonstrated resilience with their controlled assessments.
In ICT, our Year 7s have been looking into spreadsheets, using different formulas, functions and formatting. Year 8 have created some fantastic animations, including Megan's holiday advert! We have analysed and evaluated both stop-motion and digital techniques as well as creating our own. Year 9 pupils have been looking at cyber security, hacking and other forms of cyber criminals, in addition to how to stay safe against cyber crime.
In Creative iMedia, our Year 10 pupils have been learning about the 5 different pre-production documents, and creating some brilliant versions of their own, such as the storyboard below by Hannah. Year 11 have been continuing remotely with their controlled assessments, creating an interactive multimedia product for the local area.
Our GCSE Computer Science pupils in Years 10 and 11 have benefitted from a range of online ‘masterclasses’ led by volunteers who, in their professional roles, apply many aspects of the specification at an advanced level in their daily practice. The sessions have covered aspects of programming, including data storage, computational thinking and algorithms as well as cyber security. Our guests have modelled answers, provided real examples and inspired future careers (see CyberFirst). Next term the groups will be focusing on more problem solving when they look at networks and network topologies.
Pupils have been studying a range of topics in Expressive Arts over the last six weeks. The teachers have endeavoured to blend theory learning with practical tasks. In Drama, Year 7 have been studying Greek Theatre, learning about amphitheatres, performances, and myths. Staff were really impressed with the revamped colourful mask designs pupils have created! Further up the school, pupils have been introduced to other elements in a production, analysing set, costume, and lighting, with some pupils creating their own Harry Potter themed gobos (theatre light filters; gobo = Go Between Optic).
In Music, Key Stage 3 pupils have been practising treble clef pieces, playing basslines and, in Year 9, have been learning the fundamentals of composition, with some fantastic work being played on repeat! Key Stage 4 pupils in Music Technology have been working meticulously to remix songs for their coursework. The Expressive Arts team have been really enjoying seeing and listening to the work this term. It is keeping our creative juices flowing!
We have had a wonderful array of work completed this term. The pupils have engaged and worked hard to complete a wide variety of tasks set across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 in Art and Design Technology. We are very proud of their achievements and enjoy sharing and celebrating their work on Twitter @CDPStoday.
The work below demonstrates our pupils' creativity, ingenuity, and flair. They have taken time and care over their work and we have all been stunned by the pupils' positive reaction and resilience to this type of learning.
Schemes of work have been adapted and developed to suit online learning. This has been a challenge as we have used different techniques to aid pupils understanding and subject progression. We are developing new skills , such as online whiteboards and time-lapse videos.
For the third lockdown, the PE Faculty has once again risen to the challenge of delivering high-quality remote learning!
For Key Stage 3, staff have worked hard to create live lessons focused on training methods and sport specific skills, rules and tactics. Furthermore, fun fitness challenges, personalised videos and results sheets have been devised related to the components of fitness.
In Key Stage 4, pupils completed various fitness activities as well as a series of sport-specific tasks related to performance analysis and officiating. Overall, the pupils have been excellent with their engagement and sending work. This even included videos of them completing practical tasks! Staff have constantly reviewed and modified lessons to ensure all pupils can access the work. This has included modifying kit and equipment, even resorting to using a pair of socks if the pupils don’t have balls or shuttlecocks!
In GCSE PE, pupils continue to show excellent attitudes to learning. Year 10 recently completed lessons related to biomechanics and our Year 11s have focused on health, fitness and wellbeing.
Whist we all have risen to the challenge of online learning, we look forward to the day when we can be back at school delivering face-to-face lessons safely.
Learning Support and Lift
Our pupils have found the different style of learning challenging but, with patient and creative support from our skilled and enthusiastic TAs, they have developed their resilience and perhaps a greater awareness of effective learning strategies, which they will be able to deploy independently in time.
Pupils have practised and developed their reading skills and their ability to interrogate a text, to gather relevant information and to consider the reliability of both the information and the source. They have learned new spelling patterns as well as new prefixes and suffixes. Pupils have also learned and practised small tricks to support memory and to reduce memory load. Some pupils have practised conversation starters and ‘ask backs’, as well as learned to consider the type of audience with which certain information can safely be shared. Some pupils have started to consider what other people’s body language may signify and how to respond sensitively. They are also learning how to take turns and to win or lose with grace – this is proving tricky but improvements are being made. Other pupils have practised their strategies to help them manage their emotions which, at the current time, is both difficult but vital.
Parents have been sharing their thoughts with us:
‘I just wanted to say how successfully my son’s Parents’ Evening went in the new online format. It is obviously different to being face-to-face in school, but it was an excellent substitute during these unusual times. I also wanted to thank all of his teachers for their positivity and commitment. I know that teaching under lockdown conditions must be incredibly challenging, but they have all given him so much support and enthusiasm to help him achieve his best. We are very lucky to have such dedicated staff. Thank you to Deer Park School for everything they are doing to support pupils during home schooling.’ Parent
‘I would like to express how happy we are with the adaptions staff at Deer Park are doing delivering remote classes, it isn’t easy. They are all doing an amazing job in such challenging times - well done! There is just the right balance between class work and homework. It makes me incredibly proud that both my children attend Deer Park and how you have all adapted so quickly to an ever changing situation.’ Parent
Headteacher Chiquita Henson adds: 'I am extremely grateful to our Heads of Faculty for providing such a comprehensive insight into the work they and their teams have been doing with our all of our pupils this term. While challenging for all concerned, the commitment to remote learning across our learning community has been impressive. In this term alone 2,900 live lessons across all subjects have been taught in MS Teams. This equates to 66,990 learning hours and a further 4,440 tasks have been assigned in SMHW. However, at Deer Park, it is not about quantity, but quality; the balance between synchronous (Teams) and asynchronous (SMHW) learning has been important. As the evidence of the work completed shows, many of our pupils have practised the 4Rs (resilience, resourcefulness, reflection and reciprocity) and responded positively and creatively! They have shown themselves to be curious and effective independent learners. We look forward to welcoming them back when we can and providing further support for those who have found this period of lockdown overwhelming.'
We hope that you have a good half term break. See you back for virtual learning on Monday 22 February, a week when the Government should be announcing how and when pupils will be able to return to school.
Some examples of pupils' work this term:
Check also Twitter @CDPStoday for examples of pupils' Art and Design.
Year 7 Description of a Victorian villain using zoomorphism (Aiden):
Hook nosed, bloodless lips, granite jawed; the man that took everything. His deep black eyes a bottomless pit of death. His forked serpentine tongue in his sword-like teeth . A grim smile strewn across his face like a vulture sweeping in for the kill.
Year 10 Dr Jekyll – extracts from answers (Carys): However, towards the end of the chapter Dr Jekyll changes as he becomes agitated, especially when he spoke a ‘trifle sharply’. The adjective ‘sharply’ juxtaposes the earlier description of his ‘smoothed face’. Stevenson chose to use the juxtaposition to create a sense of bewilderment, as the adjective ‘sharp’ uses the ‘sh’ sound creates a sudden change in the tone of the conversation. This takes the reader by surprise, as it is not expected from the character…
Year 9 Descriptive writing (Uma):
But, as the naive hero plunged his vengeful sword into the torso of his supposed enemy, he saw a hand, and palms holding not deadly nightshade, but the flower of souls. Immediately recognising the one thing he had sacrificed so much to obtain; the cure. It was in this split second that the deep black eyes of his nemesis, were no longer hateful, nor did they show traces of evil like he had imagined so vividly. As he gazed into those eyes he saw strength, strength greater than ever seen before, far greater than his own.
Year 11 Question 4 Language Paper 1 extract (Alex): In some ways I agree with the statement. The red-haired girl is described as having “eyes the colour of that green ribbon shot with gold they had got from Paris last week.” This metaphorical language highlights almost magical, supernatural aura held by the girl. Most readers would associate nature and peacefulness with the colour "green," followed by a superior, expensive "gold". Combined, these adjectives have the effect of showing how the physical features of the girl are amazing and unique, with Rosabel feeling a sense of longing in the story...
Ethics and Computing