Uxbridge PS teacher and students share their Distance Learning experiences
The Durham District School Board (DDSB) started Distance Learning on April 6th, as a result of schools being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators and students have had to adjust quickly to teaching and learning at home. While it has not been easy, many have found innovative and unique ways to make learning and engagement at home successful. We spoke to a few educators and students who shared their stories and experiences with us.
See below for a Distance Learning success story from Uxbridge Public School, featuring Teacher Lisa West, Grade 7 student Kaelyn, Grade 6 student Finn and Grade 5 student Ollie.
Lisa West, Grade 7 and Music Teacher
Q: Explain how the transition to Distance Learning has been for you?
A: There was definitely a learning curve at the beginning, although with the Grade 7 students already having Chromebooks, they were all familiar with Google Classroom. I had to be sure to provide clear instructions for everything we did. Recording ‘how-to’ videos and lessons with Screencastify has helped immensely. Also, setting up weekly Google Meets has made a huge impact for some students.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about this innovative type of teaching?
A: I think this experience has taught me how clear I need to be in my instructions, the lessons and the assignments. I’m also a music teacher, so I really wanted to do something to bring the school together with music somehow. For Music Monday we hosted a virtual assembly and I arranged for some student performances and I played some songs on the piano while everyone sang along.
Q: What type of reactions have you received?
A: At first some students were struggling with the video lessons and managing their time. We’ve all been growing together throughout this experience, discovering what works best. Some of my students have reported that they like the flexibility. If they’re able to get their work done at the beginning of the week, they can enjoy more free time later.
Q: Anything to add?
A: In many ways this experience has forced me to take pause and really look at the way I teach and to look at what is meaningful for students.
See here for an example of a Screencastify ‘how-to’ video created to help visual learners during Distance Learning https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aFDQHOGnelqEFMvN-eXLaFUPO27VIatY/view?usp=sharing
Kaelyn, Grade 7 Student
Q: What’s the biggest difference between learning in a classroom and learning from home, for you?
A: I like the way Ms. West explains lessons through video because she shows the lessons on a whiteboard while she explains our work and I find it’s easy to understand. This helps my learning because I find that it’s simple to follow along and I can easily take notes and pause/replay the lesson as many times as I need if I don’t understand something.
Q: Do you have any tips for other students about how to stay focused while learning from home?
A: My tips for other students to stay focused are to make sure your phone/device is turned off and you are in a place in your house where you are comfortable. If you’re still having trouble concentrating, take breaks to go outside before continuing your assignments.
Finn, Grade 6 Student & Ollie, Grade 5 Student
Q: What has been your favourite assignment from your teacher since Distance Learning began? Can you explain the assignment?
A: We performed a cover of the Hockey Night in Canada theme song with our clarinet and saxophone during the Music Monday assembly! We liked that we got to perform for Music Monday and see everyone in our school that we hadn’t seen for a long time.
Q: Anything to add?
A: We were nervous right before but felt great after, and we enjoyed learning the Hockey Night in Canada theme song.