Distance education is going as well as can be expected report principals at Renfrew County Catholic School Board’s Arnprior and Calabogie elementary schools.
St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Calabogie has been providing unique learning tasks to students that can be completed at home shares Principal Heidi Fraser.
“Using Google Classroom, our teachers have worked hard to create an online environment that offers both academic learning in all subjects as well as the opportunity for social interaction through classroom Google Meet sessions.”
Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Herrick indicated that distance learning has given her “the opportunity to differentiate my instruction in ways I never imagined and has allowed me many opportunities to engage in my own professional development to meet the needs of my students in creative ways that stay true to the inquiry model of the Kindergarten program. I truly love the way my students have embraced this new way of learning and showing their learning in creative ways.”
Grade 1-3 students have had the opportunity to design a thank you poster for healthcare and essential workers, create and write their own Prayer of Hope and engage in various STEM challenges such as designing and flying a kite!
The Grade 4-8 class has mastered how to submit their work in the Google Classroom in the form of videos, audio recordings, photographs and written work. The creative academic tasks and the skills being learned to showcase their learning in different formats have been a great learning opportunity in addition to the actual academic work.
St. Joseph’s has been promoting school spirit days (e.g., school colours, Sunday best, good deeds) through the school Facebook page and has encouraged families to show participation by posting a photo in the comment section. Many teachers present ‘challenges’ such as TikTok Tuesday where the dance teacher shares a short dance video for students to copy and French Fridays where families are encouraged to engage in a French challenge.
“So, in spite of the unusual circumstances, St. Joseph’s Calabogie still has had some great new learning occurring for both staff and students and we are working hard at keeping SJC as the place to be,” says Fraser.
Distance learning is also going very well at St. John XXIII in Arnprior as teachers, students and parents have been working hard to embrace the technology involved in this type of learning.
Some teachers and students were already familiar with the platforms being used, particularly in junior grades. For many of our primary classes, this has been a new experience. Staff and students are learning together, reports Christina Brown-McGrath, Principal of St. John XXIII.
“Most of our classes are using Google Classroom as their main platform for learning. Some are using Seesaw and some are using both. Flexibility is the name of the game! Teachers have been very flexible to the needs of parents and students,” notes Brown-McGrath.
Teachers are making a concerted effort to post practical, fun and engaging lessons. They are also trying to connect with students through prayer, star of the day activities, jokes of the day, etc.
Kindergarten team, Mrs. Chaput and Mrs. Rebertz, stated that the sharing of regular songs and prayers and doing a star of the day (the star chooses an item from home, gives three clues about what it is and their classmates guess what the item is. The item is revealed the following day) have really engaged their students. These activities allow students to “see” one another and they encourage the use of audio comments so that students can hear each other and say “hello” to their friends.
“As a school, we have connected through a few fun spirit days, videos of staff reading favourite storybooks, themed JibJabs, and a staff ‘We miss you’ video to our school community,” shares Brown-McGrath.
From the beginning of “learning at home” the St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Arnprior’s school community has been focused on supporting students and families in terms of academic, mental and spiritual well-being, reports Principal Julie Huckabone.
“Our teachers, ECEs and EAs have collaborated to work with students using online learning platforms and students and staff have prayed together online each day,” says Huckabone. “We hosted schoolwide virtual spirit days to build community at this time when we are unable to be together, and our social media sites were flooded with demonstrations of support on May 16, during the RCCDSB Day of Support for frontline and essential workers.”
The Special Education team and Lisa Dellezay, School and Attendance Counsellor, have maintained contact with students and families throughout the last few months to help maintain connections with students who might be feeling anxious or worried at this time.
St. Joseph’s school also has an active partnership with Arnprior’s Teachers Against Poverty organization.
“Our staff is involved in packing and delivering groceries for families and recently our School Council made a generous donation to provide direct financial support to those in our school community who are in need,” shares Huckabone