Learning from Home: Check out what e-learning at DCS looks like!
Starting in February, the leadership team at Denver Christian began preparing for the possibility of enacting an e-learning plan (learning from home utilizing technology) if schools were needed to pivot in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. On March 19, Colorado governor Jared Polis required all Colorado schools to temporarily close their buildings and move to an online learning platform. While not ideal, Denver Christian was well prepared for this shift and expeditiously prepared a learning plan that was both cohesive across all levels (elementary, middle, high school) and suited for the various developmental stages of all our students.
Denver Christian’s mission and vision have not changed even though the format of delivery temporarily has. Our desire to deliver world-class whole-child Christian education continues, despite our temporary situation, and you can learn more about how this is happening our blog and by following us on Facebook and Instagram.
Through the duration of this crisis, Denver Christian has chosen three goals to focus on so that we might continually improve our service within the scope of the goals and serve our students and families well as a result. Below are the focus goals for our school during our time of e-learning.
E-learning at the Elementary Level
In addition to their daily learning plans with their homeroom teachers, our elementary specials (elementary specials include Art, 5th Grade Band, Music, PE, Technology and Library) teachers are also providing online lessons and activities each week (one lesson per special, once a week). Students are encouraged to do these lessons on their normal “special” day (for example, they can do the online art lesson on Tuesday if that’s their normal Art day).
Our Extend staff and additional support staff are also available to help work one on one with students throughout the day via a Tutoring Central signup page. This may be signing up for a time to get extra help on a math lesson, or reading aloud to one of our teachers via Zoom and having an interactive discussion about the reading. We have found that our kids thrive best in their learning when they are still able to connect to their teachers and to their classmates. While our preference is to be able to all be together learning at school in person, we are committed to doing our very best in providing quality learning during these weeks at home.
E-learning at the Middle School Level
We know that middle school students flourish in an environment that has structure and routine. In an effort to provide a balanced structured environment for our students, staff, and families we developed a structured, yet sustainable, schedule for our middle school.
Students will have daily face to face connections via Zoom with their teachers, classmates and friends each day. We begin the day at 8:15 with an all school community devotion and song which is followed by homeroom, providing a consistent connection point with the same students and teacher each day. The schedule is built with the core classes taking place in the morning in a block schedule and our specials’ schedules were modified and occur mostly in the afternoon. These connections with our specials teachers, such as Art, PE, Music, Choir, Band, and STEM are also extremely important and are strategically placed throughout the afternoon on each day. In addition to that, all teachers have office hours on a daily basis to provide students with plenty of time to connect and ask questions as needed.
While the students are in a Zoom classroom, we do all that we can to keep our students safe. Therefore, measures have been put into place to prevent unwanted guests in our Zoom classrooms. This prevents a new trend called “Zoombombing.” In order to prevent this new trend from occurring at DC each teacher enables the waiting room feature which allows the teacher to control who is in the classroom as well as a 6 digit password required to enter the Zoom.
In order for us to partner with the families as they manage screen time we have breaks throughout the day for students to get away from their devices, interact with family members, exercise, and, of course, grab a snack.
E-Learning at the High School Level
The high school e-learning program is continuing as close to normal as possible during this unprecedented time through synchronistic classes (meaning that all students “report” to class at the same time). The high school is using two main online platforms, Zoom (zoom.us) for video conferencing and Google classroom as a Learning Management System (LMS). These two platforms are both robust enough to allow our teachers to present live mini-lessons/lectures, conduct whole group and small group discussions, and provide a variety of assessment formats (questions, quizzes/tests, threaded discussions, and short and long written responses).
While the length of our school day has remained relatively the same, our schedule has shifted slightly to a modified block schedule; this allows for students to “meet” online with teachers and our learning lab tutors to continue to get the assistance they need to be successful. In addition to academics, the Student Council is having social (distancing) activities each afternoon for students to connect to each other.
Extend Learning Services
E-learning within Extend Learning Services
Online learning can present challenges for any student body. However, students that learn differently may feel these challenges more intensely. Students depending on accommodations, modifications, or enrichment require an added layer of support when accessing the online platform. Denver Christian has purposefully included supports for these students when designing and implementing our e-learning platform.
All students receiving added support will take part daily in their homeroom schedule with their peers. Special Education teachers, classroom aides, and paraprofessionals take part in the Zoom lessons alongside the students. This ensures that the required accommodations and/or modifications can accurately be made for each identified student. Some of the ways students are provided their needed level of support is through the use of in-class support, pull-out chat rooms, one-on-one daily Zoom times, daily Zoom study halls, and Zoom enrichment groups. Each of these areas of support includes direct ‘face-time’ with a member of the Extend team. Personalized Extend team support allows students specific needs to be met, depending on the need and task at hand. The Extend team communicates daily with the classroom teacher – ensuring that the entire teaching ‘team’ is in unison. The Extend team’s biggest desire is to support students in their learning – no matter the format!