Grace Christian School rolled out On-line learning on March 23 rd due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are in our 6 th week and like other schools in the country, we will finish our 2020 school year with virtual learning. What have we learned and what methods have we found to be most effective?
Synchronous vs Asynchronous: Synchronous learning maintains a specific schedule where the teacher regularly meets with the entire class for an extended amount of time much like in a traditional class setting. Synchronous learning works well when everyone's schedules align and students are able to access technology at the same time. Unfortunately, what we learned through this process is that many schedules are not aligned. Some examples are students sharing devices or starting their school work later in the day when their parents are off of work. In our efforts to overcome this obstacle we have been using an Asynchronous online learning program. This enables students to access instruction on their time in addition to scheduled virtual meetings where they can interact with their teacher and other students.
Loom vs Zoom: Because we adopted an asynchronous online program Loom has become one of the primary instructional tools. Our teachers make Loom videos explaining the assignments for the week, modeling lessons, and working through practice problems. Students should view these videos before attempting their assignments. The beauty of these videos is that students can re- watch them if they require extra help or repetition of instruction. On the other hand, Zoom provides a platform for students to ask questions, interact with their classmates/teacher, and gain a deeper understanding of content. Many teachers are using these sessions to meet with small groups of students so they can provide extra support.
One-on-one sessions: Our teachers will set up private zoom sessions with their students. If a child has viewed the loom videos, attended their class zoom meetings, and is still struggling to understand content then the next step is to request a private session. In a regular classroom setting the teacher is able to oversee student work and observe their struggles. When they see a child struggle they can quickly step in and offer help. Unfortunately, the online learning method does not provide a quick observation method for teachers to catch struggling students. Support can only be given if the teacher is aware of the struggle; this is why communication is so important.
Church and Co-Curricular classes: Much of what separates Grace Christian School from other schools is our daily courtyard, weekly church service and co-curricular classes. Our Head of School brings daily courtyard announcements, prayer and pledge via recorded you-tube so that our students have a sense of normalcy. We also live stream our regular Wednesday church service with singing and a short sermon for our students and families. Our co-curricular teachers are busy offering virtual clubs such as Art, STEAM and Music. Students can choose which club they would like to attend. Our goal is to continue to strengthen the whole child.
Our team of teachers and staff at Grace Christian School are hard at work bringing the best virtual education possible. We remain optimistic that through these strategic measures our students will end this school year on right on track.