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Wenona remains open, but we’ve trialled our Athenaeum Learning Pathway this week, with different year groups working from home or off campus. It was fantastic to see our community’s enthusiasm, grace and creativity!
Our Athenaeum Learning Pathway is named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and courage. The name reflects the School - and our community’s - ability to do things differently, and adapt to new ways of interacting, collaborating, learning and developing.
“It is a way of testing whether we can deliver what we can, and to iron out things that don’t work, while we can,” said Wenona Principal, Dr Scott. “We’re not switching to remote classes yet! But if we need to, we want to be ready.”
Over the last few weeks, staff have been working tirelessly to prepare online lessons and trial different forms of technology so that students who are self-isolating or who are working remotely can do so. We’ve also developed daily planners and checklists for distance learning to provide students with a clear structure for their day, as well as guidance for rest breaks, exercise, creativity and connection. By Friday afternoon, every year group - with the exception of Year 12 who have continued to prepare for assessments and major works this week - had worked off campus for a day.
On Tuesday, our wonderful Year 10 students stepped up to act as ‘guinea pigs’ for Wenona’s first trial of the Athenaeum Learning Pathway. Feedback from teachers, students and parents was overwhelmingly positive, with some great ideas on how to refine processes.
Year 10 Coordinator, Ms Rodgerson said, “On Tuesday morning, students checked in via Zoom with their PC teachers at 8:20am for virtual rollcalls and discussions, and then normal lesson times were observed, with teachers ensuring lesson content was available via Canvas, our learning management system . Teachers selected a range of ways to deliver content. This included Zoom, interactive quizzes, discussion threads, small group online meetings, worksheets, videos, presentations with voiceovers, and more. The day was a great way to assess what worked well and to reflect on areas that needed improvement. Students were encouraged to find balance in their day and spend time away from the screen. I am extremely proud of the graciousness, willingness and goodwill shown by Year 10, Year 10 PC teachers and all their class teachers. Thank you all!”
Ms Bridget O'Brien, mother of Sienna in Year 10, said, "I really enjoyed having Sienna at home on Tuesday. She was enthusiastic and motivated. She worked steadily all day and it was fascinating to listen in on her on calls with her classmates to organise their projects (as she cut up an apple in the kitchen). She sounded so grown up! The quote of the day for me was, 'Mum, could you please be quiet, I am about to go on a call.' Oh the irony!"
Sienna agreed with her mum that Wenona's Athenaeum Learning Pathway trial was a positive experience. “In a way, it was easier than being in the classroom at School because I could work at my own pace but could still communicate with my classmates. At lunchtime, I was even able to take my dog for a walk, which was great."
Ms Prue Jeffery, mother of Zoe in Year 10, also found that her family adapted well to the Athenaeum Learning Pathway trial. "In challenging times like these, there is an obvious need to adapt and improvise." The Jeffery family's puppy, Paddington, was thrilled to have Zoe home, but was only allowed to sneak in for a cuddle on Zoe's lap in break times or between classes. Other than that, Zoe kept her door firmly shut so she could concentrate on her learning!
Students across the Junior School also trialled the Athenaeum Learning Pathway this week, with great positivity, adaptability and creativity shown by all. On Wednesday, it was Year 1’s turn and their teacher, Ms Christofa was delighted with how it went. “Collaborating and bouncing ideas off the other Junior School teachers helped me in preparing for this, and Wenona’s ICT Department has provided incredible support. As Year 1 don’t normally use Canvas, we practised in class, so they all felt confident in accessing it and completing tasks. On the day, the students did a great job on Zoom and were very sensible in turning their microphone on and off, so that only one person was speaking at a time. Most students were very independent in accessing, uploading and completing tasks. We had a few small technical difficulties, but mostly everything went well.”
Amelia’s mum contacted Ms Christofa at the end of the day to say, “Thanks for a brilliant day of distance learning. Well done! I honestly think it was a huge success. Amelia certainly thought so too!”
Head of Junior School, Ms Justine Lind said, “Young children have the most elastic brains and are rapidly innovating in this space! They are excited about all the possibilities currently presented by these changing circumstances.”
This was born out by twins, Jessica and Samantha in Ms Peck’s Year 2 class, who are currently self-isolating. They researched, created and shared an online STEM experiment with their classmates, which proved a great success!
Ms Lind said, “The Junior School teachers have been evolving their practice continually to ensure that learning remains relevant, engaging and authentic for our students and the times. Years 5 and 6 complete many aspects of their learning interacting with online content, experts and peers when it enhances the intended outcomes. In Kindergarten to Year 4, technology is a vital tool in augmenting a teacher’s capacity to curate virtual, blended and direct experiences that personalise the learning for the different needs within a class. The emerging strategies and examples of innovation from students will be organic and exponential over the next little while, and maybe parents too will be even more engaged and participatory in the learning play that is happening in homes across our community and the world. We have been thinking carefully about the social, emotional and physical needs of the Wenona community, so that in a time of social distancing and self-isolation, everyone continues to feel a sense of connection, belonging and wellbeing.”
With Sport training and competition suspended, our Sport Department have been busy coming up with different ways for students to stay active and engaged. Over the coming weeks, they will continue to devise content and resources for our students to access via Portal, as well as provide useful tips and techniques via the School’s social media channels.
Dr Scott acknowledged the hard work, support and understanding of the whole Wenona community in setting up the Athenaeum Learning Pathway, particularly parents who have helped to support their daughters as they adapt to new and innovative ways of teaching and learning. “They recognise the complexity of the situation for everyone, not just for their child or their family. I could not be more grateful for the support, the advice, and the guidance of experts in this field, and for the encouragement of parents who appreciate the challenges.”