Using Microsoft Teams to put play at the heart of family learning.
The results from our initial family survey highlight the want for more communication between staff and parents/carers which allows families to gain a better insight into classroom life. It was also asked that this is a 2-way communication so Microsoft Teams seems a good platform to use, especially since it is the communication tool my school is now using in case of future COVID 19 issues. Children in my class learn so much through their child-led play so this will be the main focus. Play is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. The children learn by doing, thinking and exploring. Our EYP, Miss Stickland, and I try our best to ensure nurturing interactions, quality experiences and enabling spaces for the children to learn in, details of which I will share in the blog.
What format will your communication take?
I aim to write a weekly blog post and for children and their families to respond with what they enjoyed/did not enjoy, discuss any activities that have been carried out at home, etc.
What content will your communication have?
I hope to raise awareness of the importance of play so will share 1 or 2 play types in each blog, highlighting the learning that can take place through them. This will be linked with the learning that has taken place within the classroom/at school. I will upload photos and often include the children’s learning review (children’s own words describing their learning). In each blog, I will also discuss the recent learning in either Literacy or Numeracy and offer activities that can be done at home to consolidate the learning. I am open to changing the content based on feedback from families.
The first step in this project was to set up a class Microsoft Teams Team with a ‘Play Blog’ channel. After that I needed to introduce Microsoft Teams to the setting’s families. All children were issued with their Scottish Candidate Number and a password needed to access our Team. A letter was drafted to inform families of this blog, encouraging them to interact with it. It is hoped families will use the blog as a communication tool; to enable discussions around learning. A leaflet describing the approach to learning adopted in my setting has been uploaded in the Files section of the Play Blog channel for parents and carers to read. A paper copy has also been given to all families. A first blog has been written describing my own Play Learning Journey and I am hoping for parents and carers to engage with it.
The project’s next steps are to:
- Ensure relevant, up-to-date information about Play Types is shared with families – I will carry out professional reading on the subject, too,
- Continue to write weekly blogs on our class Team,
- Share these blogs with the children in class and encourage them to look at it at home with their families,
- Use Insights to analyse family engagement in the blog,
- Seek feedback from families on the use of the blog, it’s use as a communication tool at home, and further suggestions for content,
- Design a way to measure the impact of the blog e.g. family survey, children survey, use of Insights data.
The news that schools would not re-open as intended after the Winter break was hard-hitting but understandable. COVID19 has away of disrupting normality but I wanted to ensure my project, and the support it offers to families, continued.
The original format of my project was a weekly Teams blog, discussing one of the 16 Play Types (Bob Huges, 2006) and showing photographic examples of this play occurring in the classroom. I also included pupil voice as I am researching the children’s ability to articulate their learning through play for a teacher leadership course I am currently undertaking.
Having built strong relationships with parents and carers, I felt comfortable in asking them to switch roles with me: I asked for them to share play observations that is happening within their homes.
Some families posted photos on our class Team and I helped identify the play type and learning that was taking place. Other families chose to complete a paper observation. It was amazing to see how play had developed at home and how much it is now valued by parents and carers.
Upon returning to school after lockdown, it was important to put play at the heart of learning again. This is because play is so important in developing social and emotional skills, something that lockdown had prevented.
I wanted to give the children a chance to reconnect with me, each other and with the school as whole, and to support their wellbeing. Only once the children felt safe and secure again at school, would they be in a position to learn (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).
Luckily, this tied in perfectly with my project and I went back to taking photos, making observations, collecting pupil voice and writing blog posts on the class Team to share the learning and play with families.
The class Team blog is a two-way communication tool and I encourage parents and carers to comment on the posts. During lockdown, the children also commented on each others play posts which was lovely to see.
Some feedback from families on the class Team blog:
Fantastic to see what they have all been up to recently! I love seeing what’s “actually” happened. I am able to piece some parts of Lily’s “renditions” of her days together which is fab.
This really helps to put context to our conversations at home, thank you.
Children are learning about from a tiny leaf to a space! Hanna told me today why the moon was shining. It was impressive to hear from her. Locomotor is one of her strengths, too. It’s so fortunate that we have Saughton Park beside the school where she always is practicing to clime the tree.
Lovely to see how the children very enthusiastic to learn. It seems very busy at the school. The photographs and children’s comments help us to understand what is going to at the school. Thank your for the lovely blog.
It’s lovely to see and hear what the children are learning and getting up to in P1B. Aliza has been so fascinated learning about the solar system. Its also great to hear from other parents too 🤗. Many thanks
Over the course of next term, I hope to have written a blog post on our class Team about all 16 Play Types.
Following on from this, the plan is to carry out a questionnaire asking families if they value play more now compared to before they read any of the blogs, and if they have a better understanding of the learning that occurs through play. This feedback will hopefully then determine the longer term future of my project. It began with families asking for more two-way communication about play in the classroom. Hopefully I have achieved this, so the next steps will depend on what families ask for next!
I will also make comparisons in the ability of the children to articulate their learning through play from the beginning of the year, to the end. This will give me an indication if carrying out weekly learning reviews supports the development of ‘learning talk’ e.g. the vocabulary children have to describe their learning and being metacognitively aware.