Off-campus learning

At GISS, we are proud to deliver high-quality education and we will continue do so under these exceptional circumstances. We are committed to provide an alternative means of education in the form of off-campus learning.

Off-campus learning means that students are able to learn but not physically present on campus. Off-campus learning does not replicate onsite learning but allows our teachers to deliver powerful instruction and enable our students to meet expected standards in an online environment.

The off-campus learning experience aligns with our Teaching and Learning Framework. Our students will be empowered to make choices about how they reach clearly defined learning goals; be engaged in [online] collaboration to solve authentic problems; feel safe to take intellectual risks while persevering through challenges; be supported with modelling, differentiation, specific feedback and opportunities for reflection and revision; and inspired to action.

Furthermore it is important that learning activities are varied and comparable to the expected demands on the teaching in class and promote research, reflection and critical thinking. The success of our off-campus learning endeavour is a partnership and is dependent on careful planning by our dedicated staff, appropriate student motivation and engagement, and strong parent support for this alternative mode of instruction. The result of such learning experiences will expand our students’ academic progress and attend to student social and emotional well-being.

While this is a time of uncertainty and challenge, it will also open up new and innovative opportunities to connect with ideas and engage with classmates.

Off-campus learning is a new journey for us all and the contents of this concept may be revised after consultation and feedback from the GISS community.

Tools & Routines for Off-campus Learning at GISS

GISS is utilising proven education platforms such as Microsoft Teams, OneNote and SeeSaw. This allows our classes to meet virtually/online and teachers will generally be available during normal school hours.

Online platforms support both off-campus learning and faculty/student/family collaboration to ensure a quality student learning experience when planning and delivering remotely.

  • Microsoft Office 365 apps and the GISS app are the communication tools used to contact and communicate with GISS families.
  • Microsoft Teams and SeeSaw are the off-campus learning platforms used in Primary school (K - 4).
  • Office 365 tools (including Microsoft Teams and OneNote Class Notebook) are the off-campus learning platforms used in Junior Secondary school (5 - 10).
  • Office 365 tools (including Microsoft Teams and OneNote Class Notebook) and ManageBac are the off-campus learning platforms used in Senior Secondary school (11-12).
  • Please go https://www.office.com to login.

 Office 365

  • Students can log in via Office 365 using their school email address (namelastname@giss.nsw.edu.au) and password. The school license allows for Microsoft Office products to be downloaded onto 5 devices.
  • Once logged in to Office 365 you will see the following screen; click on Teams to join the class.

Roll Call and Daily Routine

  • If your child cannot participate in the off-campus learning e.g. because of illness, please continue to inform us by 8.45am via the GISS App as a first instance or alternatively via Email. Please note that the GISS phone might not be monitored.
  • The school has a legal requirement to log student attendance during off-campus learning. Students are therefore required to sign into Teams (Office 365 program circled above) and answer the roll call by 9.00am every morning via Teams.
  • Working to the regular timetable will be extremely difficult in these circumstances. Teachers will provide tasks that will enable students to work at their own pace, and independently. Students should check their Teams channels for updates from their teachers.
  • Students should continue to complete their set tasks online throughout the week and update their OneNote sections regularly. Please note that you may work in the Class Notebook in Teams OR use the OneNote Desktop app. If you are using the desktop app, please ensure you are using OneNote 2016.
  • Teachers will notify students via Teams if there are specific submissions dates for certain assignments.
  • Students should be able to work individually, in pairs or groups using appropriate tools (MS Teams video conferencing).
  • Students will be notified if they are required to attend a video conferencing lesson through an invitation sent out by their teacher.

Guidelines for video-conference lessons:

  • We need to be cognisant of the capabilities of our internet as most Australians are moving to on-line working. Reception and availability may be limited in some areas.
  • Teachers will aim to connect directly with students via video conference at least once a week, however this may not always be possible.
  • Students will be notified of a scheduled video-conference lesson with their teacher in advance.
  • Background noise must be avoided by all, students should be wearing headphones
  • To avoid background noise, the students' microphones are switched off at first
  • Each lesson starts with a welcome and ends with a farewell
  • There is only one person talking at a time!
  • Mobile phones may only be used for educational purposes, e.g. for photography/WhatsApp function. Ensure there are no unauthorised recording / pictures taken.
  • Be mindful of the environment behind you and consider other people’s privacy on video calls. The use of the background blur function is recommended.

Guidelines for using the chat-function:

Despite its ease and speed, users should still be mindful of basic etiquette when using the chat-function:

  • Please remember that Teams is an educational tool. Chat should be limited to learning related activities only.
  • Start with a short greeting.
  • Keep the conversation short.
  • Be careful with abbreviations - similar to texting, it’s common to use abbreviations and shortcuts such as “LOL” (laugh out loud), “np” (no problem), or “u” (you) in an IM, but make sure the abbreviation you use is appropriate


Schoolwide Roles & Responsibilities
Leadership Team
Class/subject teachers
Learning Support Teachers
Librarian & Digital Transformation Manager
Tech Support Team

Leadership Team

  • Develop plans for off-campus learning
  • Communicate with faculty/staff and parents
  • Support faculty/staff and parents during off-campus learning
  • Ensure effective implementation of off-campus learning plan and accountability to student learning

Class/subject teachers

  • Collaborate with colleagues to design off-campus learning
  • Create experiences for students in accordance with divisional plans
  • Develop high-quality student learning experiences
  • Communicate with and provide timely feedback to students Communicate with parents, as necessary

Learning Support Teachers

  • Partner with classroom teachers to accommodate the online learning curriculum they are providing to the learning support students on their caseload
  • Communicate with all parents of students on their caseload the first week regarding the online learning plan and how they will co-plan with the teachers for the students to access the content of the
  • distance learning lessons Recommend to parents and teachers other online learning platforms learning support students might be able to access at this time

Librarian & Digital Transformation Manager

  • Curate resources for teachers to support the development of high-quality online learning experiences for students
  • Create screencasts, videos, podcasts or other how-to resources for teachers Support teachers in the development of off-campus learning experiences, as needed

Tech Support Team

  • Provide timely response to student, family and faculty requests regarding technology issues

Questions related to:

Contact:

A course, assignment or resource

Relevant teacher – use Teams or Email for general or private messages.

Teachers may be unable to reply individually to all emails immediately, as their focus will be teaching via the online learning platform.

A technology issue/request

https://tickets.giss.com.au:10443/


Student Roles & Responsibilities

  • A daily routine is very important - Dedicate appropriate time to learning, comparable to a school day and/or as guided by your teacher/s
  • Find a quiet and comfortable place to work and follow the lessons online as best you can
  • Roll Call will be undertaken every morning via Teams in the Roll Call channel. Simply click reply to the teacher’s message so that your attendance is recorded by 9.00am. If you do not reply, you will be marked absent unless parents have submitted an absence notice via the GISS App.
  • Check appropriate online platforms for information on courses, assignments, resources daily
  • Check your Teams posts regularly throughout the day
    • Use the general channel within Teams for whole class communications
    • Use the subject channels within Teams for subject specific conversations.
  • Use the chat function to ask your teachers questions for clarification if you don’t understand anything or need help
  • Engage in all learning posted with academic honesty
  • Submit all assignments in accordance with provided timeline and/or due dates
  • Be professional – follow online etiquette when using electronic learning channels; do not use Teams for socialising
  • Attend, as much as possible, the regular synchronous engagements offered by each of their teacher/s
  • Ensure own social and emotional balance by keeping healthy habits

Parent Roles & Responsibilities

Off-campus learning is a team effort and would not be possible without you. We ask for your help in supporting your children as they are learning from home. We understand that many families are facing challenging times. Please manage as best as you can alongside your own workload.

  • Please ensure to help your child set their daily routines – starting just before 9.00am
  • Actively ask questions to check that your child is managing their online workload
  • Encourage learning breaks and physical exercise
  • Send a message to the subject teacher if you have any questions or concerns
  • Help your child find a suitable place to study
  • If there are siblings in the house who will be online at the same time, try to make sure they are assigned different locations to avoid interference
Preschool
Primary School
Junior Secondary School Years 5-10
Senior Secondary School Years 11-12

Preschool

Being in isolation with young children can be very challenging, so it might be reassuring to know that children do not need to be entertained the whole time. Once engrossed in their play, children can be engaged on their own for an extensive period of time.

Be mindful about screen time as, whilst children will be quietly watching (perhaps even for an extensive period of time), once the screen will be switched off, they usually will be restless and very active afterwards, often finding it harder to get into play.

Letting them endure a little boredom is nothing to worry about as it is actually a necessity which triggers the need to gradually find a strategy towards developing meaningful activity. Open-ended play materials provide the children with rich and meaningful play opportunities. Engaging children with daily household chores helps the children develop practical skills, self-esteem and independence. It also aids with forming good habits.

Young children need plenty of sensory stimulation, so will enjoy anything that involves engaging all senses (cuddling, rough and tumble play, making goop or playdough, games during which they can be physically active, sand and mud play, music and dancing, gardening). Cooking together with your child falls into this category and also provides opportunities to learn about nutrition and measurement. Board games are fun and are great for developing literacy and numeracy skills.

Reading stories is invaluable when it comes to literacy development and is a nice way to bond and start conversations. Perhaps encourage your child to draw a picture from the story. It might be nice to read a longer story that can be stretched out over a number of days, which gives your child something familiar to look forward to.

Creating a drawing diary or journal with visual representations of activities that the child did during the day might be a nice project to do with your child as it helps with reflecting on experiences and learning. Generally, it will be of help to establish some kind of daily routine as this makes the day more predictable and will result in less unsettledness or challenging behaviours.

Trying to make the best of a bad situation will help your child develop a positive outlook on life and become resilient even when faced with challenges. Hopefully stressful times like these will bring us together as a community despite the social distancing which is currently required. For those who are currently at home, these might be some useful links to explore:

Preschool Portfolios

We would like to invite you to stay in touch with us. When working on the children’s individual portfolios we divide these up amongst us so that they are evenly distributed (as much as possible). Of course, we usually collaborate as a team and share our educational and professional views and ideas for extending each child’s development. We would encourage you to stay in touch with us via email and share what you are doing at home (short snippets of text and photos if you like, videos).

We will then be able to provide you with ideas/tips for extending their development and perhaps put these into a learning story for you which then can be saved in the children’s portfolios as we have access to them online. We will then be able to print these learning stories/ documents out for the children’s physical folders once we are all back at preschool. 

Communication & Educational Program

  • Preschool teachers will actively reach out to families with the preferred methods of communication chosen by the families. These include telephone calls, emails, facetime, Skype and other channels.
  • Preschool teachers are available throughout the day to respond to families as quickly as they can, can provide emotional and educational support and keep connected.
  • Families are encouraged (and nearly all do) to share photos, short videos and snippets of the activities their children are doing. The preschool teachers turn these into pedagogical documentation/ learning stories for the children’s portfolios which are also shared with the families. This way families are enabled to be an active part of the learning process and are enabled to reflect on the development of their child’s skills.
  • As part of this, families are given suggestions on how they can develop specific skills further and which provisions they can make in order to extend their child’s learning.
  • The children’s progress will continue to be documented by the teachers. This is the on-going cycle of planning, implementation and evaluation which is embedded in our pedagogical program.
  • The teachers will produce video clips which are shared with families, so that the children can continue to engage and practice language, rhymes and songs.
  • The educational program continues to be play-based and all aspects of the EYLF are upheld.
  • With the requirement of social distancing in place to keep everyone safe, social interaction between children, which is crucial for social and emotional development, will continue to be promoted but in ways that limit direct contact.
  • Families are actively encouraged to stay connected with one another via social media, face time, emails and through telephone calls. They are asked to share ideas and activities that have worked well for them amongst each other.

Primary School

Schooling is always a partnership, especially in an online, off-campus learning environment. This partnership becomes the champion of learning at the primary school level.

Over the course of this off-campus learning time period, GISS will partner with parents to engage students in experiences that stretch their understanding and expand how they approach new learning.

Our teachers will continue to carry forward their instrumental role in guiding, supporting, and challenging students to take on new responsibilities and to become excited about new learning.

Our families will have options and resources for flexibility that will give them choice and ownership as the off-campus learning experience progresses.

The off-campus learning plan in Kindergarten to Year 4 will be facilitated by the online educational platform Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams will provide a space for teachers to upload home learning engagements and/or activities that parents can assist their child in completing. Students will also be invited to participate in regular optional interactive ‘face-to-face’ synchronous lessons and activities using MS Teams.

A variety of tasks will be included, and some learning tasks may include other online platforms such as Seesaw, Mathletics and Study Ladder. If another online platform is required, teachers will share specific instructions for parents to access the platform.

Teachers will continue to communicate with parents through our school App, while at the same time using Microsoft Teams as the online off-campus learning platform. 

Role of Primary School Parents

As primary school students are still developing their independence, a teacher-parent partnership is necessary for students to engage in off-campus learning tasks and to access online resources. The assigned learning tasks and activities in the weekly plans will provide direction and support to families with the understanding that task completion depends on each individual families’ circumstances.

We recognise that parents may have more than one child to guide, therefore primary school students will be given a range of activity options and resources for flexible learning, including some tasks requiring computer access. Parents are encouraged to create a daily routine, where they take the time with their child to review the materials and tasks on Microsoft Teams to both inform and help prepare the student to engage in the learning tasks that the teacher has designed on that given day.

In addition to the role description in section 5, we ask Primary School parents for the following support:

  • Read the App updates from your child’s teachers.
  • Increase your familiarity with Microsoft Teams as our primary instructional tool.
  • Help your child log on to Microsoft Teams for requested ‘face-to-face’ interactive sessions and activities with teachers and classmates.
  • Read your child’s weekly plans, home learning tasks and activities posted on Microsoft Teams. Discuss these with your child.
  • Download and/or print out any materials that are needed for the daily or weekly learning.
  • Monitor your child’s activity on the chat and video-conference forums, particularly consider limiting private chats between students to school related topics only.
  • Set up a designated ’learning corner/space’ for your child and make it clear that this is where learning will take place.
  • Set up clear times for your child’s learning that repeat daily. Your class teacher will provide a suggested routine which you may like to follow or adapt to your individual family’s needs.
  • Ensure that your child is not disturbed while studying, so that they can work persistently and focused.
  • Make a clear distinction between work phases and breaks.
  • Allow your child to take breaks and offer play time, when needed.
  • Communicate your high expectations that your child will strive to work independently, with concentration and care and pride in their work.

Email your child's classroom teacher if you or your child have questions and/or if your child needs extra help and support.

If your class teachers are using the Seesaw App:

  • Seesaw is another primary platform for home learning during the online off-campus phase. The Seesaw Class app and the Seesaw Family app are two platform applications some students and their families will rely on and will learn to appreciate.
  • Class teachers will provide detailed instructions regarding how students/parents can download the Seesaw Class app (or how to access Seesaw through a web browser, if using a PC) and retrieve the class QR code to scan and then download the Seesaw Class app.
  • View the Monday morning message on Seesaw with your child, where their teacher will welcome you to a new week of learning and introduce the topics for the week.
  • Read home learning tasks and activities posted on Seesaw with your child.

 Remember: our teachers will be present on-line to help and support you and your child!

Junior Secondary School Years 5-10

We know that learning takes on many different forms and can take place in many different settings. GISS’ off-campus learning experience is the very type of experience that our junior secondary school students are prepared to take on and to grow from, independently, with their peers, and even with their families.

Over the course of this, students will be invited to engage in learning experiences that will stretch their thinking and will encourage new ways of doing in each of their classes, even though they will not be physically present on campus. Students will learn through a blended learning model, which includes asynchronous learning as well as synchronous, real-time interactive sessions with their teachers and classmates.

Each of these learning experiences may be followed up with appropriate homework or a formative/summative assessment to confirm that the students have engaged appropriately with the content and that their understanding of the content supports their progress towards the identified target standards.

The clear goal is for off-campus days to be analogous to the students’ experiences on typical days at school: to interact, to engage, to grow, and, ultimately, to learn.

Off-campus learning plan Years 5 -10

The off-campus learning plan for years 5-10 will include engaging experiences for each scheduled class students have on their regular school schedule for that day.

Student Paced Learning

  • Teachers will communicate student learning expectations, provide resources, collect assignments, and provide feedback through Office 365 Teams and OneNote.
  • Students will have learning target(s) in each subject area as specified by their teacher
  • Teachers will respond to student and parent e-mails/questions in a timely manner
  • No sites requiring VPN will be used as a resource.
  • Students will engage in synchronous, or real-time, interactions with their teachers and classmates using Microsoft Teams.
  • Teachers will engage in real-time with students in the following ways:

Live Video-conference Lessons

  • Individual: Students request help by making appointments with their teachers or counsellors on an agreed time.
  • Mini Lessons: Students may participate in real time mini lessons on specific

topics during specific times established by teachers.

Progress Monitoring:

  • Students will have the opportunity to collaborate and reflect about their learning and provide feedback to each other.
  • Students will provide evidence of learning for each subject as a check for understanding.
  • Teachers will provide students with ongoing and regular feedback on their evidence of learning and at regular checkpoints on tasks that extend over multiple lessons
  • Students may participate in graded summative tasks at the end of a learning sequence as advised by their teacher.

Role of Junior Secondary School Parents (Y5-10)

As Junior Secondary School students are still developing their independence, a teacher-parent partnership is necessary for students to engage in off-campus learning tasks and, in some cases, to access on-line resources.

The learning tasks and activities provide direction and support to families. We recognise that parents may have more than one child to guide, therefore we have framed the learning experience to require minimal parent involvement.

In addition to the role description in section 5 we ask Junior Secondary School parents for the following support:

  • Monitor updates via the app and be sure to check in with your child daily about the off-campus learning tasks, activities and assessments they are working on.
  • Monitor your child’s activity on the chat and video-conference forums, particularly consider limiting private chats between students to school related topics only.
  • Designate a place where your child will work independently on his/her assigned tasks.
  • Ask your child to provide a brief summary of the learning he/she is engaging in for each class to ensure his/her understanding of the content and of the process they are being asked to engage in to demonstrate their learning.
  • Monitor your child’s deadline calendar and support them in submitting assignments according to the established deadlines.
  • Remind your child to contact his/her teachers if your child or you have questions or if you need extra help and support. Our teachers will be present on-line to help and support you.

Senior Secondary School Years 11-12

Our approaches to learning in the IB ensure we’re quite accustomed to a blended or flipped learning approach but there will be some changes as we become more ‘flipped’ rather than ‘blended’.

We’ll continue to use Managebac (MB) for teachers and students to manage the learning with continued support from our carers through the Parent Portal, but in addition and as in our Junior Secondary School, we’ll continue our ‘face time classroom lessons’ by utilising more of the Microsoft 365 apps, such as One Note (called Class Notebook in Teams) as we do currently for our collaboration space, thinking space and to store our digital student file folders.

We’ll use Teams for video conferencing, chatting and writing notes on the whiteboard. Some teachers might use additional weblinks as part of the learning and we’ll continue to link to Kognity and InThinking and other subject specific online tools, texts and resources.  

But it won’t all be online. Students still write hardcopy notes in their subject notebooks, prepare visible thinking maps with real pens/posters/postits and highlighters, read and reference their library textbooks and, refer to their hard copy file folders of class notes and handouts from previous learning.

We aim to follow our timetable as a structure to help plan the learning and as an indicator of availability for contact, although not all lessons will be video-conferenced, just as not all lessons are ‘teacher instruction’. Teachers will post a Weekly Learning Plan (WLP) on their MB Subject Page and they might also post more detailed notes about the learning tasks, projects and activities on Teams.

Pamoja lessons will carry on as normal and we’ll still have Core Time and CAS – but with some adjustments. The IB Calendar will still be our guide for students to create their weekly ILPs and, assessment tasks, marking and feedback will still be posted and uploaded to MB. Together, we’ll carry on with our learning, creating and problem solving as we go, to continue our IB journey at GISS with minimum disruption and maximum support, so that our students’ learning, remains our priority.

What will this look like?

Mindset: “…we will continue to use Managebac as we do now, while Teams becomes our classroom learning space...”

Guidelines for Students:

  1. Maintain communication with your teachers and classmates – this is vital.
  2. Check your emails each morning, after lunch, and at the end of the day.
  3. Create and maintain a ‘learning space’ for your daily lessons and learning that is free from distractions.
  4. Be mindful of your wellbeing and daily routine outside of our regular timetable.
  5. MB will remain as the ‘landing page’ and first ‘go to’ for learning.
  6. Read daily announcements and notices on MB each morning.
  7. Continue to create your own Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) each week and self-manage your learning.
  8. Continue to use the timetable & our IB Calendar for your structure & planning.
  9. Follow the etiquette for ‘video conferencing’ and ‘chat’:
    • blur personal background in videos,
    • no mobile phones during online lessons, unless it’s part of the learning activity or being used to solve a technical issue,  
    • turn off microphones unless you are speaking to the group,
    • one speaker – one microphone at a time,
    • turn off your speakers and use headphones.
  10. Complete your homework and prepare your learning, ready for the next lesson and/or for video conference (e.g. reading/activities) to get the most out of your online lessons and, to have your questions ready for the next video conference.
  11. Continue to work on your Extended Essay, CAS & ToK – follow the announcements about these Core subjects on MB.
  12. Reach out to our Class Teachers/Subject Teachers/Core Team as you normally would do, knowing you are not alone because we’re all in this together and we’ll continue to support each other as your ‘GISS family’.

Attendance

We will continue to register daily attendance for IB students  as we normally do, as part of our 'open campus college' approach:

  1. We ask a parent/carer to send an 'absent@giss.nsw.edu.au' email by 9am if their son/daughter is sick, or has a health appoint, or another issue that prevents them from attending or participating in the learning that day.
  2. If no 'absent@giss.nsw.edu.au' email has been received, our Receptionist will mark them 'present' in our record of attendance system.
  3. Class Teachers and Subject Teachers will advise their students about any further structures for checking-in to monitor their students' well-being and engagement in learning.

Role of Senior Secondary School Parents

As Senior Secondary School students have almost gained their independence as learners who are aware of how they learn and how to manage their own learning, the support of parents/carers will continue as it does now for on-campus learning, apart from some exceptions, as outlined below.

As a parent/carer of Senior Secondary School students, we ask you for the following support:

  • Monitor updates via the GISS app and the Managebac (MB) Parent Portal.
  • Check-in with your son/daughter from time to time, to gauge if they need support to remain focused and engaged in their learning.
  • Create a functioning workspace where your son/daughter will be able to work effectively and independently, without distractions.
  • Support your son/daughter with their individual learning plans (ILPs)and check their upcoming deadlines against the IB Calendar. Reach out to our staff if you have any concerns or questions so together, we maintain our three-way partnership of learning (school-student-home).
WELLBEING

GISS follows the guidelines for wellbeing of the Association of Independent Schools of NSW:

In times of uncertainty, additional support from educators and school staff is called upon and a whole-school, coordinated approach when supporting colleagues, students, parents and carers is needed. Schools will draw upon their internal expertise, building capacity within their teams to support students, colleagues and families.

Open and honest discussions

Ongoing exposure to media related COVID-19 information can be stressful. The national mental health and wellbeing organisation Beyond Blue suggests the importance of discussing COVID-19 news and events in an open and honest way with children and young people. Information and resources from reliable sources are most appropriate as well as listening to and acknowledging student questions. ReachOut have produced a number of resources in this area including 10 Ways to Look after yourself during coronavirus – relevant to student and adults along with How to talk to your teenager about coronavirus for parents and carers.

Practical and emotional support

We know social contact and routine supports the wellbeing of students and staff. When this is not physically possible, staying connected online and in other ways can bridge this gap. Acknowledging the need for practical and emotional support is important for all school stakeholders. Excellent dedicated resources from Head to Health (Australian Government), headspace school support, Everymind, La Trobe University and Emerging Minds are a good starting point.

Online safety

At a time where more students and families may be accessing teaching, learning and wellbeing online, schools will continue to prepare, engage, educate and respond to the varied and different needs associated with learning from home. In particular, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner has released a comprehensive resource with a COVID-19 Safety Kit for parents and carers.

A link of further general wellbeing resources can be found here.