Top tips to engage students learning from home

Some students at Shepparton East Primary School (SEPS) start their day solving a riddle, others try to work out 'where in the world is Mr Willaton'.

These are just some of the fun ideas SEPS teachers use to engage their students during remote and flexible learning.

It reflects the close connections staff have with their students and the school's caring culture, which extends beyond the classroom.

SEPS provides an inclusive, supportive and safe learning environment, with student wellbeing at the heart of everything. Students are encouraged to care for themselves and others, and care about their learning.

Wonders of Webex and other technology

SEPS Acting Principal Stacey Willaton said Webex video conferencing has worked wonders in the virtual classroom, keeping 'kids connected' with each other, their teachers and their learning.

'Our grades 3 to 6 teachers deliver their reading, writing and mathematics classes live via Webex and use Google Classroom for students to post their work.'

'It's worked so well that we are now using Webex for our specialist teachers as well as one-on-one reading and writing sessions in the afternoons,' Stacey said.

'Our preps, and grades 1 and 2, use Seesaw for their daily classes and meet weekly via Webex. Just this week, we've introduced small-group Webex reading conferences.'

Stacey said the school scaled a 'massive learning curve' in the first 'round' of remote and flexible learning in Term 2.

'We've learnt so much from the first experience, embraced feedback from our parents and ironed out the kinks.'

'This time around (Term 3), we feel we've nailed it and our parents say it's been much easier for them this time,' she said.

Stacey encourages 'tech-savvy' staff to help other staff make the most of online learning tools.

Being creative

SEPS staff have had fun with their students to keep them engaged. For example:

  • Grade 1 and 2 teacher, Mrs Gladman, starts the online school day with a riddle for her students.
  • Grade 1 and 2 teacher, Mr Williamson, made a video of him playing a game of Snakes and Ladders with his greyhound Chillby.
  • Grade 5 and 6 teacher, Mr Willaton, starts his morning class with 'where in the world is Mr Willaton' using a green screen to place him against a backdrop of somewhere in the world. His students must find out where he is.
  • The preps created virtual adventures with their 'flat' teachers (a group photo of teachers pasted onto an icy-pole stick). For example, Noah took his flat teachers for a ride on the back of one of his lambs, and William let his flat trio watch him feed his pet lizard. Their adventures were collated in a video and posted on their Google site.
  • All SEPS staff wrote letters to the students and collated them in a narrated e-book called The Jolly Postman visits Shepparton East that was posted on their Google site. The students were asked to write back so all their letters could be read then placed in a time capsule and opened on the school's 150th birthday in 2026.

Student wellbeing

SEPS staff know that students learn best when they are happy and feel safe. That's why SEPS has a school chaplain, Mark Trumble, whose full-time role is dedicated to student welfare.

Mark has adapted a trauma-informed approach to his wellbeing programs.

'This approach looks at why children respond in a particular way and addresses the root of their problem,' Mark said.

Mark is also part of SEPS school-wide positive behaviour support (SWPBS) team, who continue to meet fortnightly, developing a positive, safe and supportive learning culture in which all staff teach, monitor and reward good behaviour and students are clear about what is expected of them.

Keeping families connected and informed

Every fortnight, SEPS provides learning packs for parents with learning from home tips and supports for the whole family.

Planning and collaboration

SEPS' has created a timetable in which all specialist classes are taught on the same day for a specific learning level (e.g. grades 3 and 4, 5 and 6). On their designated day, the classroom teacher takes the class until 10am, then specialist teachers take over for art, PE, science, performing arts and Auslan. This allows classroom teachers to plan collaboratively.

SEPS' teachers also meet regularly via Webex to share ideas, expertise and best-practice.

Find out more

Teachers and school leaders can access learning from home advice and resources on the Learning from Home website.