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Celebrating Remote Learning in Semester One!

Semester one was tough without a doubt! Not only did The Song Room survive, but I believe we thrived.

Remote learning looked different in every school we work with, and the team adapted to each school’s needs with creativity and commitment. Providing remote learning is not new to us. We have been doing this work for many years in the Northern Territory and in far northern Western Australia. The COVID-19 crisis provided us with the opportunity to adapt our approach to remote learning for a more regional application, to expand the programs in some areas, and to share the depth of our expertise and resources right across the country.

During the crisis our Teaching Artists supported schools and teachers with mentoring, and provided students with hundreds of activities including videos, lesson plans and learning packs from ARTS:LIVE. We have seen some exceptional examples of how to work remotely while keeping students engaged and learning.

One of my favourite remote learning stories from Term Two comes from Bulman Primary School in central Arnhem Land, 315km north-east of Katherine, in the Northern Territory. The community here is accustomed to accessibility issues due to its location, and they tend to miss out on resources and programs that schools in other areas take for granted. This is why the face to face music lessons with our Teaching Artist, Ed Gould, are eagerly anticipated by the children and appreciated by the staff, who see a lift in attendance and in student commitment during the program.

When the community was closed to outsiders in Term Two, Ed knew that his music lessons could keep the students inspired and connected during this time. He doubled down on his commitment to make learning engaging and fun, even in lockdown. The students were connected to a song that he helped them write earlier in the term in which they describe what they loved most about their home  – Bulman (Gulin Gulin). Ed used this a starting point to inspire them.

Ed recorded himself singing the song and sent it to Natasha, the local teacher, so the kids could sing along. Next he sent an audio track that had him singing each line followed by a gap of silence where the kids could practice the call and response without any backing. Natasha set up a microphone in the classroom and recorded the children singing each line. Ed was able to cut together the song using the best parts of the recording. Ed shared his editing process with the students over Skype workshops, and they gave him feedback on different versions of the song.

He sent the finished version to the school before the holidays and the students loved it! During the semester ahead, they will record a video of themselves singing and dancing to The Gulin Gulin Song. This project has the kids hooked. It has carried them through Semester 1 and has given them focus and inspiration for Semester Two.

Take a listen here. I guarantee you will be inspired too.

Of course, the year may continue to test us. We have a lot of work to do to ensure that children across Australia have the the opportunity to access a quality education, to connect to their learning, and to realise their potential.

We look forward to the challenge in Semester Two, and thank you for your support and partnership.

Alice Gerlach

Chief Executive Officer

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