Learning in the Time of COVID
Connection, connected, connect – these words had deep meaning for DCD before the pandemic took us into the world of distance learning and virtual schooling.
Noun, adjective, or verb, we use a version of “connect” to talk about many things at DCD; the relationships between teachers, students, colleagues, parents, and classmates; the linkages leveraged in the different parts of our curriculum; and how as a community or as individuals we relate to and engage with the broader world.
With the pandemic and our nation’s renewed fight for racial equity, these words have taken on yet another dimension. The power of “connectedness” continues to drive everything we do – a reconfigured learning community that functions in this temporary state of physical separation and a curriculum that continues to embrace and teach racial equality at every age. Our community is resilient, flexible, and creative and has proven its ability to deliver an education that is challenging, inclusive, and engaging whether in person or from a distance.
Distance Learning During the Spring Term
Using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning models, DCD students remained deeply engaged in every aspect of our curriculum from academics, to arts, to athletics, and service-learning.
A typical day looked very different depending upon the age of the student and, as we moved through this period of virtual learning, we continued to adjust our programming and schedule based on student and family feedback and on what we learned as teachers.
Peruse this page to see some examples of lessons and projects that DCD students engaged in during the spring term.
Video Messages from Ms. Webster
Parents’ Perspectives on Distance Learning
Pre-K ended the year with a study of insects. They made insects from clay, paper shapes, watercolors, and even from junk. One of the highlights was when Mrs. Jackson and Mrs. Swan delivered two caterpillar containers and a butterfly box to each Pre- K student’s home on May 6. The students made daily observations of their caterpillars, named them, drew pictures of them, and studied the butterfly life cycle. They watched as they changed to chrysalids and then finally to butterflies. The butterflies stayed in their butterfly boxes for several days before being released into the wild.
First graders explored United States Symbols and Landmarks in Social Studies, for their final project of the year. Because it had such a strong independent project component, it worked out even better for distance learning than in the classroom. Students had a week to learn about a symbol or landmark of their choosing. The assignment was to describe what the symbol represented, share one or two interesting facts about it, and tell why they chose it. Their project was to make a poster, model, or drawing to teach others about it. They shared their work through their morning Zoom call, and the wealth of information they learned from each other was incredible!
The fifth grade adjusted its annual Odyssey Storytelling Project to fit the distance-learning model. After hearing a professional oral retelling of The Odyssey in its entirety, fifth-graders chose their favorite sections of the story, read various versions of these parts, and created their oral presentations of their sections of the epic tale. Students practiced together live in Zoom breakout rooms, but they also practiced at home and uploaded video performances via Google Classroom. Classmates and teachers provided both synchronous and asynchronous feedback on these videos, which students addressed in subsequent practice sessions.
They uploaded their final polished toga-clad performances before the end of school, which were combined into an iMovie showing the complete story from “The Belly of the Horse” to Odysseus’ “Battle in the Hall.” Current Ithaca College film student, Charlie Bemis, produced and edited the movie!
Instead of a live performance followed by a Greek Feast at DCD, fifth-grade families enjoyed Greek takeout and a special family movie night at home this year.
What will the Fall Look Like at DCD?
Though our school may look a bit different this fall, reconfigured to maintain the health and safety of our community, our ability to deliver a DCD education reflective of our mission remains unchanged – DCD’s learning community is ready and resilient. Our goal is to make all the aspects of a DCD education accessible to students, pre-K to grade whether in-person, from a distance, or in a hybrid form.
With the work of many teams and working groups made up of faculty, staff, and public health experts, we have developed measures and protocols for bringing our learning community back together this fall. Click the image to the right to view the planning that is in place.
Please check back for up-to-date information on pandemic planning, details for programming, and a schedule of admissions virtual events.
Spring 2020 FAQs
Your child’s teacher should be the first line of support for questions about academic content and will let you know the best way to reach them (e.g. email, phone, etc.). School Psychologist Erin Albert and Director of Learning Resources and Student Support Dr. Beth Conners are available as well. Erin Albert will be available Monday through Thursday to provide support. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. Dr. Conners will be available by phone on weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm by calling 978-562-4541. If she is teaching or with someone, she will get back to you as soon as possible. She is available at any time by email at email@example.com.
If you are working with a private tutor, please reach out to them directly to find out their plans during this time. Many tutors will be making their services available online via Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts. If your child is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Conners so that we can plan appropriate support for them at this time.
DCD understands that a shift to a distance-learning approach will require our students and families to make adjustments. A continued partnership between families and our school will ensure the best possible success of the plan. Division heads, learning support staff, the technology department, and faculty are all available to support and guide your children (and you) with any help. Overall, we encourage you to embrace this time at home as a time of connection and new possibilities.
To help students achieve success with distance learning:
- Establish a regular schedule for your child and stay engaged with their learning
- Create a study space for your child
- Stay in communication with your child’s teachers
- Encourage independence and allow for productive struggle
- Monitor your child’s technology use
- Help your child follow video call etiquette
- Encourage your child to maintain social contact with peers
- Promote physical activity and movement and monitor student stress