Balancing screen time in online learning

It was another swift and successful move to online learning when the latest Queensland lockdown was called, with the St Margaret’s community again embracing this mode of learning.

In the Primary School, online learning was delivered through a modified timetable, aimed at providing flexibility and structure to families. Three different modes of learning were used, including face to face teaching via Microsoft Teams, pre-recorded sessions, and independent learning through self-paced courses, choice boards and inquiry.

Already seasoned online learners, our primary students demonstrated their resilience as they adapted to virtual classrooms and alternate methods for delivery of the curriculum.

According to Assistant Head of Primary – Curriculum (PP-6) Kate Frewin, the teaching staff were tuned into the amount of screen time experienced during online learning and responded by developing a number of screen alternatives to ensure students had a balance during their virtual school day.

“We developed a number of creative ways for students to limit their screen time and celebrate the learning that is happening at home, including opportunities to practice mindfulness, art, cooking and exercise, and a platform to share and celebrate what the students do,” Kate said.

Maggie’s Junior Chef was just one of these initiatives. Students were encouraged to don their aprons, get their pots and pans ready and raid the pantry to cook their families a delicious, colourful and healthy dish utilising at least three different vegetables. The exceptional mini cooks were then able to share a photograph of their inspiring creations on the social stream of the POD. 

A Let’s Get Healthy program provided mindfulness resources and activities to support the wellbeing of students during online learning. One of these activities was starting the daily ritual of keeping a Gratitude Journal which research indicates increases happiness and has a positive impact on health and wellbeing. In doing so, students were not only developing skills to support their wellbeing in the present but developing life skills to support them in the future.

The Let’s Get Active initiative focused students on looking after their bodies during online learning by getting physical and finding ways to move their bodies for at least 30 minutes each day.  Whether it was walking, running, skipping, dancing or planking, students shared photos of themselves demonstrating how they were balancing their screen time with active, healthy movement. In a show of St Margaret’s spirit, the girls dressed in their house colours, too.

Let’s Get Arty provided an outlet for students to express themselves creatively at home and an opportunity to share their creations, from drawings to 3D sculptures, with the community on the POD.

These initiatives were devised to foster learning opportunities away from the desk and screen while also providing opportunities for students to enhance and strengthen connections during lockdown.

Another integral method for maintaining connections was the introduction of digital value stickers. Usually awarded to students observed demonstrating the school’s values of spirit, faith, integrity, respect, passion and courage in the classroom and on school grounds, the digital evolution of this recognition saw digital stickers awarded to students who demonstrated the school’s values during online learning and in the virtual classroom.

Kate said the school’s values were just as important even when learning from home.

“We wanted the girls to know that regardless of how they are learning we acknowledge their efforts and value their input into ensuring the school values remain a priority.”

Thank you to all of our St Margaret’s students and their families who supported online learning. We are pleased to be back for face to face (or mask to mask) learning this week.