Distance Learning in Name Only

Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 by Melissa Howison

To maintain our commitment to students during the pandemic, the Village Learning Place (VLP) adapted summer programming for virtual delivery. “Distance” learning has done the opposite for LINK classrooms this summer. 

“I would say it’s been an interesting level of closeness or authenticity to our real lives,” said LINK Summer 3rd-6th grade teacher DJ Nash. “I think all the adults on here are a little sillier than they would be in school and it’s because we’re all home.” 

Virtual classrooms do complicate certain aspects of teaching, but the videoconference setting also presents new opportunities for connecting and learning. For example, the 3rd-6th grade class begins each afternoon with a show-and-tell that features fun themes like family pictures! Can you imagine coordinating a daily show-and-tell if students had to transport items to and from school? 

Teachers are leaning into these types of opportunities to make LINK Summer 2020 the best it can be amidst the pandemic. 

The PreK-2nd grade class presenting the pictures of wacky cookies they drew in cooking class.

Students receive a supply bag each Thursday complete with all the materials they’ll need for the following week, down to ingredients for cooking class. They can complete the activities independently using hard copy instructions, independently with the help of videos posted on the VLP’s YouTube page, or interactively with teachers during virtual sessions Monday through Thursday from 10am to 3pm. 

With a little creativity, LINK teachers have found some advantages for students learning from home. Kariz Marcel is leading a music production enrichment with the LINK Leaders (7th-10th grade), which would usually take place in a VLP classroom. The at-home setting gives Kariz a unique opportunity to teach from his studio and introduce students to the equipment. 

“Doing it this way, you guys will get a chance to see exactly how it’s done,” Kariz told students as he was giving them a virtual tour. 

The 3rd-6th grade facilitators were surprised to discover the chat feature can serve as an instructional tool. “I thought the chat would be more distracting but it’s like a parallel conversation,” DJ said.  

“The chat feature is also helpful for the kids who tend to be a bit quieter or shyer because they are more willing to speak up over the chat,” said Daniella, a 3rd-6th grade Assistant Teacher. 

Sneak peeks into each other’s homes and emoji-enabled classroom chats have created a different kind of accessibility for teachers and students, and it has inspired some deeply thoughtful conversations. So far this summer, students of all ages have discussed everything from the ethics of keeping an uncomfortable secret to the biased narration of America’s history. 

It is clear that LINK teachers and students will continue finding ways to remain close for as long as we must remain physically distant.