Blended Learning Model – Foundation Phase
As more learners return to the physical school setting, every school will be operating in a vastly different context. Schools and settings will continue, for the foreseeable future, to provide a combination of face to face learning and a range of learning opportunities designed to build upon this away from school – a blended learning approach.
The youngest children in Wales will need to develop a range of skills over time, which will enable them to become independent learners who are able to learn, build upon and apply a range of skills away from the school or setting with increasing autonomy.
As schools develop their own approach to blended learning, it is important to consider the following as a guide to good practice:
For the child, any blended learning approach should:
· Ensure that their stage of development and sense of well-being is fully taken into account when planning for learning. This should include explicit opportunities to develop their personal, social and emotional skills as an integral part of blended provision.
· Involve play and investigation opportunities to develop their natural curiosity and problem-solving skills
· Ensure that all learning holds meaning, has a purpose and builds their confidence over time
· Ensure that learning promotes plenty of opportunity for success
· Pay high regard to the specific development of children’s oracy skills
· Recognise and value parents as the child’s first educator and build an increasingly effective two-way dialogue between home and school
For the Practitioner, any blended learning approach should:
· Be manageable and rely only upon documentation that is directly useful in moving children’s learning forward at a developmentally appropriate pace.
· Be strongly rooted in the principles of effective early learning and pay high regard to the Four Purposes of the new curriculum
· Be planned and co-constructed in partnership with parents/carers and the child
· Be reflected upon and revised, based on understanding gained from all aspects of teaching and learning at home and in school
· Be informed by a growing level of evidence based on research and professional enquiry
· Ensure all parents/carers can participate positively in their child’s learning journey so that all learners have an equal chance of success. Be aware of any barriers that may prevent parents/carers from working with their child at home, for example language of the home or inability to read and understand instructions
· Utilise platforms and applications that support children in their learning – both in and away from the school or setting.
In the Setting Focused & Children’s interests
· Ensure blended learning focuses on authentic, experiential learning experiences, drawing on the Four Purposes of the new curriculum as a starting point.
· Ensure that children’s well-being is an integral part of the planning process.
· Make best use of face-to-face practitioner time to ensure the practitioner is the facilitator of learning. Ensure the direct teaching of specific skills consolidates learning experiences both indoors and outside.
· Plan opportunities for taught skills across learning experiences to be embedded both in school and home to strengthen pupils’ ‘fitness for learning’ in order to continue to progress.
· Ensure all staff understand the purpose of any play/active learning activities.
· Consider the home and school learning environments as ‘enhanced provision’ to enable pupils to think more deeply and practise skills in authentic contexts for learning.
· Be realistic in planning activities that are ‘real/authentic’ for the pupil and that can be easily extended to their immediate local environment in order to ensure equity for learners and families.
Enhanced Home Learning and children’s interests
– Use schools’ usual communication systems to gather views on what is working well and what is not. Adapt planning to best meet the needs of all learners.
– Ensure all parents/carers understand the purpose of any play/active learning activities. Practitioners should model the learning and share clear step-by-step guidance where necessary.
– Use asynchronous learning materials to enhance learning at home for example make videos of reading stories, singing songs (including in Welsh), and number games/facts.
– Provide resources for pupils to complete tasks at home if necessary, for example by providing loose parts or craft materials.
– Plan practical learning activities for pupils to apply and transfer their skills and knowledge when at home in ‘real life’ contexts. Include creative, investigative and physical skills that make the best of pupils’ immediate environment.
Feedback and Feed forward
· Build in time to talk to children about their learning to establish their understanding and to plan the next steps.
· Actively respond to pupils’ and parents comments and ideas to plan for enhanced learning experiences which support pupil progression.
· Celebrate home learning and address any misconceptions in school. Highlight children’s increasing ability to demonstrate positive dispositions to learning, including critical and creative skills in line with the Four Purposes of the new Curriculum for Wales.
· Take note of pupils’ emotional and physical well-being by noticing levels of concentration, dispositions to learning, social interactions and independence. Make suitable adjustments where necessary.
Planning for learning
· Place the Four Purposes at the core of teaching and learning with well-being at the centre.
· Use knowledge of child development to plan for learning. Ensure that opportunities for play and experiential learning remain the key drivers in the planning process.
· Focus on authentic learning opportunities found in daily routines, practical tasks and outdoors.
· Plan to promote languages, communication and numeracy skills within the learning experiences in school and the home.
· Practitioners carefully plan activities for continuous and enhanced provision areas that link directly to the specific skill being taught.
· ICT skills can be taught to enhance learning. However, the main focus should be to encourage active learning for the relatively short time pupils are in school.
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