Manor House School's virtual science lessons - a relatively seamless transition

Posted on 22nd May 2020 in School News, Online learning, Science

Mrs Waterhouse, Head of Science at Manor House School, discusses how teaching Science virtually from home has been a challenging but rewarding experience, and how it has been possible to achieve a relatively seamless transition to remote learning.

Science lessons from home certainly have been an interesting challenge for us all at Manor House School, Bookham. Thankfully our pupils in the Senior School have embraced the changes incredibly well and are engaging amazingly.

As we have consistently used Schoolbase and Showbie in our School to share resources before the lockdown, there was a pretty seamless transition to using these programmes for remote learning from home. This allowed for time to be spent developing our skills at communicating in virtual lessons within MS Teams. Clear guidance has been shared with staff and students alike. Therefore troubleshooting has been rapid and from the start of the school closure we have been able to be 'live'. As we come to the end of the half term it feels unbelievable how much we have all learnt in order to adapt to these methods. Pupils have followed their previous timetables, just virtually from home.

The ability to carry out practicals is the most obvious restriction in Science. However, we have tried to bring in a few where we can. Some of the Year 11 Biologists were sent on an Ecology field study into their gardens, meanwhile others investigated the content of their fridges to look at the food miles of different foods and calculate carbon footprints. Year 10 were given the task of gathering reaction time data from their family using a ruler drop test. Year 8 Physicists, who are studying space, used Oreos to create their phases of the moon. The bi-weekly MHS Science Shorts videos on our social media feeds have also been well received by parents for ideas to bring Science into the home.

Our aim has been to maintain variation in the lessons so the pupils have the best experience possible at this unusual time. Technology has been really helpful with this, for example live segments to introduce new concepts and explain the key points, or online quizzes like Kahoot and Seneca to assess understanding.

To moderate screen time however, sometimes larger independent tasks are set to broaden their base knowledge followed by focused discussion sessions. These different approaches have aimed to continue the positive learning environment we see in school. I am looking forward to getting back and seeing the girls face to face once school is back, but feel confident and reassured that the hard work of the girls and collaborative methods we are using during closure have ensured their learning has continued to progress despite these very different circumstances.