GCSS Fall 2020 Distance Learning: What to Expect When Students Learn from Home

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    Distance learning is a form of education that takes place when students are not physically present with teachers in a classroom. Rather than traditional face-to-instruction, teachers use technology to facilitate instruction. GCSS students will actively participate in two kinds of distance learning: synchronous learning and asynchronous learning.

    Synchronous learning is when the teachers and students are online at the same time. Synchronous learning is live instructional time when teachers use video conferencing tools (Zoom or Google Meet, for example) to connect with students. Some of the learning activities include:

    • The teacher explaining new ideas;
    • Class discussions with teacher guidance and monitoring;
    • Students asking and answering questions.

    Asynchronous learning is when students work independently (on their own), completing assignments the teacher has given them and using any material that the teacher has posted to the Learning Management System (LMS). Asynchronous instruction is just as important as synchronous instruction, and it is how students should spend most of their time. Some assignments will require technology, and some activities will not require technology.

    Some examples of asynchronous learning activities include:

    • Small group and independent online sessions with the teacher as needed during regular school hours;
    • Watching videos posted by the teacher;
    • Independent reading assigned by the teacher;
      • Students can access hundreds of books through the MyOn online library;
    • Writing assignments;
    • Working in district apps such as Study Island, Exact Path or IXL;
    • Responding (in writing) to discussion prompts posted in the LMS; and
    • Projects (on specific topics) that students complete on their own or with classmates via online conferencing tools (Zoom, Google Meet, and Canvas). 

    Frequently Asked Questions 

    What can I expect from my child’s teacher?

    Teachers will post daily messages and assignments/activities for students. Some of the activities will be synchronous (live), and some of the activities will be asynchronous, which students will complete independently.

    • Teachers will post student assignments by 8:00 a.m. daily.
    • Even when teachers and students are not participating in synchronous instruction, teachers will be available to assist students and answer questions. 

    My student’s teacher is not teaching live on video for the entire day. When teachers are not on live video, do they have the rest of the day off?

    No, teachers are putting in full days just like their students are. When teachers are not providing synchronous instruction, they will be planning for instruction (both whole group and individualized); monitoring student progress and evaluating/grading student work in order to provide feedback to parents and students; conferencing with other teachers and administration; and providing assistance to students as needed. Teachers and all school staff will work full 8-hour days between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

    How much time will my child spend learning each day? 

    Students are expected to participate in a full day’s learning every day. The full day includes both the live, synchronous instruction and the independent learning activities assigned by the teacher. (A full day for elementary students is about 6 hours including 1 hour for lunch and breaks. A full day for middle and high school students is about 7 hours with 1 hour four lunch and breaks). 

    Each school has a schedule of when teachers will provide live, synchronous instruction vs. asynchronous instruction. Schools have shared schedules in multiple ways including social media, Class Dojo, school websites, Infinite Campus, and Canvas. Any questions regarding schedules should be directed to individual schools.

    Why is my child not participating in live instruction all day each day?

    It is important for students to have a combination of independent (asynchronous) learning time and synchronous time with their teachers and classmates. We are providing students with a balance of learning activities. Some activities will require technology, and some activities will not require technology. This balance will promote literacy, exploration of new ideas, and critical thinking.

    • The benefits of independent learning time include: flexibility (students working at their own pace); more time for students to work through content; and more opportunities for projects that lead to deep understanding.
    • The benefits of synchronous learning include: student opportunities to interact with their teachers and peers; and getting real-time feedback from teachers. 

    What should I do if my child has a question about an assignment and I am unable to help him/her?

    Parents and students can reach out to their teachers for assistance as needed. Teachers are working full days to provide the instruction and support that students need.

    What is my role as a parent during distance learning?

    Some of the things that parents can do include:

    • Establish a daily routine for students.
    • Provide time and space for students to complete assignments and participate in distance learning.
    • Communicate with teachers and school leaders regarding student needs, problems, etc.
    • Check-in with students daily on their progress.
      • Ask children: What are you learning? How are you feeling?
    • Show students how important literacy is by: reading with/to them; asking children to read to you; or letting your children see you reading alone.
    • Ensure there are set break times to lessen fatigue.
    • Display a clock to help keep track of how long different tasks/assignments will take.