With schools across Gloucestershire closed during lockdown three and virtual schooling here to stay for a little longer, SoGlos caught up with two students from The Crypt School in Gloucester to find out more about their online learning experience.
About the experts – Theo and Marianne, Year 7 students at The Crypt School
As Year 7s, Theo and Marianne (pictured left) are in their first year at The Crypt School, a leading co-educational secondary school in Gloucester. Like many students across the county, they have been logging into online school and learning remotely during lockdown.
Delivering an outstanding education for boys and girls aged 11 to 18, The Crypt School offers a rich curriculum, strong sense of community and a supportive pastoral network – all of which are continued through its online learning provision.
Can you describe your morning routine while learning remotely?
Theo: I wake up at ten past eight and have breakfast, then get my desk set up in my bedroom and check my timetable for the day. Then I join my first lesson, which is tutor time – where we talk about things such as wellbeing and might have fun discussions, like talking about our pets.
I try to get dressed, but it’s normal to find me still in my pyjamas for the morning lessons!
Marianne: After waking up, I get straight in the shower, then get dressed and go downstairs to make my breakfast. By the time I’ve made my breakfast, it’s nearly form time – so I’ll take it upstairs to eat in class. I’ll also check what lessons I have that day, check my emails and see what homework is due.
What is a typical school day like when learning from home?
Marianne: A typical day at online school for me consists of form time, first period, then break, which I spend with my mum in the kitchen. After break, I have two periods before lunch – sometimes I’ll call my cousin at lunch, or I’ll eat with my mum, then do my homework or complete any work I need to catch up on. After lunch, there’s two more periods, then I finish for the day.
Theo: We have five lessons a day, which are usually about 10 minutes shorter than normal, giving us a break between each class. This makes our break and lunch times longer – we have about an hour and 15 minutes for lunch, which is a lot longer than when we’re in school. During this time, I have lunch and try to get out for some fresh air. Our last lesson usually ends around 3pm.
How does remote teaching work for you?
Marianne: Remote teaching is done via Google Meet, if you’re on the live lesson. But many teachers record lessons for people who can’t be there for the live class. All our work is normally uploaded to Google Classroom.
If the teachers want to communicate with us, they can use private comments to let us know if there’s anything we need to do. We can use the private comment option, too, to ask questions about the work. They can also contact us via email or vice versa.
Theo: Although our work is set online, we are sometimes asked to do some work in our exercise books, too. We take a picture of it, then post via Google Classroom to our teacher.
During lessons, our microphones and cameras are turned off unless teachers ask us to turn them on. Teachers ask us questions which we either answer on the chat, or by virtually raising our hands and waiting for the teacher to pick us. For some lessons, we use something called breakout rooms, where we get put into groups and discuss a task.
How different is remote learning from your lessons in school? What do you think about the experience?
Marianne: I have found that some subjects are more similar than others, such as maths – when we are in the classroom, we do lots of work either off the board which the teacher can present to us virtually by sharing their screen, or we are doing activities on our iPads.
Whereas in drama, it’s a different story. We normally do lots of group work at school but seeing as it’s all over a screen, it’s very hard to do this. Luckily there are breakout rooms where we can do adapted group work – like discussing what we think of scenes and plays we have watched. Or, what we’re doing at the moment, which is voice acting.
Sometimes, the teachers don’t do a live lesson as they are unavailable or it’s not required for that subject in particular. This is always done in our accelerated reader English lesson, which is just reading for an hour – so no different to school.
Theo: We cover the same topics as we would have done in school, but I miss not being able to talk to my friends after every class and interacting with them during lessons.
Online schooling doesn’t always work as smoothly as normal school due to issues with technology and it’s sometimes harder to follow what the teachers are describing on such a small screen. We also get less homework, which I’m quite happy about as I find online lessons tiring.
Marianne: I think this online learning experience has been good as it’s taught me how to work more efficiently and independently. It has also brought about many learning curves, such as reading emails everyday to check if there is anything needed. It’s also a weird experience, as I’m not seeing my friends when learning.
Can you describe some special things your school is doing while students are learning at home?
Marianne: Our head of year has challenged us to complete some enrichment challenges to help us stay busy during lockdown. These include learning how to use a household appliance, cleaning the bathroom, hoovering a room, doing a task in the garden, and so on. I’ve really enjoyed trying to complete these challenges.
Theo: In PE, we did a Strava Challenge, which encouraged me to get outside and exercise.
I also got involved with the year 7 enrichment challenge, where I had to complete challenges such as keeping in touch with family members, making an apple and blackberry crumble, and washing my dog – she gets so muddy!
Marianne: Another thing the school is doing is prize draws. The first one is for how many enrichment challenges you complete out of 19. If you do ten, your name will be put in the draw once, but if you complete all 19, you’ll be put in twice.
The other prize draw is for our epraise points, which are like house points. If you have 50, your name will go in once, and then in again for every 50 more you have.
For PE, we’ve had netball sessions with seven stars players; we’ve had a Q&A with a female rugby player; and we’ve been doing a Strava Challenge. We have also had concerts with music and, where possible, clubs have been carrying on.
What do you do to relax in the evenings after school time?
Theo: After school, I play Xbox – not just for the games, but to have a laugh and catch up with my friends. Once my dad has finished work too, we sometimes go on a run, which adds to my Strava Challenge, just before dinner. Then after dinner, I might walk my dog, practise piano or just watch TV.
Marianne: I’ll make myself a snack, then call my friends and go on my phone to watch YouTube or something like that for a bit. I’ll also play a boardgame or a card game with my family.
Recently, I’ve started to keep a diary so before I go to bed, I always write in there and read. I’ve found it very important to read before going to bed as I have been on a screen all day.