We hear from Claire Everett, Head of Arts and Lead Arts Award adviser at Cranborne Middle School, about how they are approaching delivering Bronze and Silver remotely as part of their approach to home learning during the pandemic and their use of Google Classroom to do this:
We have delivered Arts Award Explore, Bronze and Silver for nine years. Our Arts Award offer has been finely tuned: responding to the varying interests and needs of pupils in school, our existing arts curriculum and our links with feeder schools and local arts venues. In ‘ordinary’ times, the children attend a term of Arts Award sessions as an after school or tutor-time club, held in one of our ICT suites. The aim of these sessions are:
- To learn about the different parts of their Award, the criteria for assessment and what they could mean for them.
- To talk with me one-to-one about possible ideas and projects and to ask any individual questions.
- To use the computers and art materials to research, type up and present their portfolios.
When the school closed its doors to most pupils, both my Bronze and Silver programmes were still being delivered and all portfolios were unfinished. I usually use the summer term to open a daily lunchtime surgery to all participants in order for them to come and ask me any remaining questions, have Parts assessed and to borrow equipment. This could no longer happen in the same way, so I had to come up with other plans!
Firstly, I felt it was important to maintain honesty in my communication with young people, their parents and carers. I spoke with the Arts Award team about possible moderation dates and methods of delivery and came up with a skeleton plan, which included:
- The set up of a specific Google Classroom for each of my three groups, totalling 37 young people.
- Within each classroom, I began by sharing the Classroom ‘code’ with my groups in person (in their last session with me in that final week) and informed them how they could use the classroom.
- I attached ALL of the documentation sheets as PDF’s or Google Docs, so that they could be downloaded and referred to/worked from at home.
- I informed all pupils who had not yet completed parts of their Arts Award requiring access to performances and venues (Part B of Bronze or Part C or D of Unit 1 Silver) that they could use virtual experiences in arts venues such as virtual tours of exhibitions or watch and review previously live arts events, such as the National Theatre collection.
- I then ensured that the Parentmail I sent to all parents reassured them that their child could still continue as usual to complete their portfolios at home, using any materials and equipment they have to hand and offered tips to support them.
Delivering in this way has had some pitfalls;
- The age range of young people I am working with is between 11 and 13 years; old enough to be independent while still needing a lot of face-to face-support. Some of the young people, particularly those with special educational needs, are struggling without this type of support. In these cases we have put in extra phonecalls and working with parents to support them, I may also post some motivational videos on Google Classroom to keep them engaged.
- Google Classroom and email depends on internet access. If this fails at the homes of the young people, or there are difficulties accessing a device, then they will struggle. In these cases we have sent packs home and used phone calls as alternative methods.
- Although the creative method of presentation is not strictly necessary, it is a large part of engaging the participant in ‘finishing’ their part and feeling proud of the final outcome. The range of resources in each home varies widely and this can sometimes lead to disengagement, as pupils feel that it isn’t ‘finished’. We have provided support and guidance on using the technology creatively including modelling it ourselves.
As time has gone on though students have found doing their Arts award more engaging than other areas of the curriculum and parents have enjoyed watching their children so engaged in their learning. In my experience so far, my main tips for any other advisers approaching remote delivery would be;
- Set yourself reminders several times each day to check the Google Classrooms, to accommodate the working routines of the young people in your groups. This has varied widely so far. Message back with offers of support as you would face-to-face. I have asked pupils to post work on the Classroom stream, where I have then given feedback through a parental email.
- Keep a check of who is not engaging with the Classroom, wait for a while and then contact parents/carers via phone call or email to check all is well and offer your support.
- Encourage posting of photos of Arts Award Parts which require reviewing by others and model meaningful feedback, rather than ‘wow’ or ‘amazing’
- Use your school’s social media platforms, such as Twitter, to share work and tag in the arts venue where the event was staged. The young people will more often than not receive at least several ‘likes’, or sometimes a retweet which is encouraging for them as well ashelpful for the arts venues themselves, in these unprecedented times.
- Going forward, I shall probably set an assignment task for all groups via the Arts Award Classrooms asking them to let me know their progress toward each of the Parts and whether they require support. This will be in the form of a simple survey, where I will ask them to be honest.
If you are wondering how to support your students to complete their work remotely in the current situation Arts Award Voice offers an online Bronze, Silver, and Gold Hub which takes young people step-by-step through their award, supporting independent learning. You and your group simply need to register to gain access to ideas, resources and downloads.