Story by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Photos courtesy of Hope Lutheran School
Like other schools in the region, West Seattle’s school buildings have been quiet since the March 12 announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee that all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties must close until April 27 in response to COVID-19.
Some schools such as Hope Lutheran School (which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary) have implemented online learning as a means of keeping students engaged during the closure. Here’s a summary from Hope principal Kristen Okabayashi:
Hope to Home Learning
About three weeks ago, teachers at Hope Lutheran School began discussions regarding a potential closure of our school due to COVID-19. As we contemplated a shift to at-home and online learning, the first question we wrestled with was figuring out our end goal – what was most important for our students to learn in the coming weeks? And how would we deliver that? We quickly realized it would not suit us as teachers or our families to create a “virtual” school day where students would be locked into a screen for six hours; we began to focus on how else we could provide appropriate learning for our students. During this time period, we also checked to see if each student had access to a device with Wi-Fi and prepared to loan out devices to students who needed it.
Like most schools, the decision to close came suddenly. On the last day of actual school, teachers sent home textbooks and other physical materials for students to use as resources. We then moved up our time table to transform into online schooling in 48 hours. All of our teachers came together and brought in a crucial piece of the online learning puzzle as we planned and trained over the course of two days, to create a successful at-home learning model dubbed “Hope to Home Learning”. One of our Hope parents recently told us we had “Apollo 13’d” online learning, and that is not a stretch of the imagination! We began Hope to Home Learning last Wednesday; the actual teaching paradigm varies a bit depending on the age group.
Preschool learning: teachers felt it was most appropriate to provide lots of hands-on materials to our youngest students, so they are sending home weekly packets including crafts, playdough, and academic learning activities. Using an online learning platform called “Seesaw”, teachers create and push out videos while reading stories or teaching a short lesson. They are also utilizing the video conferencing platform “Zoom” to meet with individual students and small groups.
Kindergarten through second grade: students in primary grades are able to access Hope’s existing curriculum online; teachers in this age group are also using “Seesaw” to push out learning activities and videos they record of themselves teaching new concepts to students. We felt an important piece for all our students was to include videos of our teachers to help bring familiarity to instruction, even during this time of change. Students and teachers are again using Zoom to connect with each other.
Third through eighth grade: in these intermediate and middle school grades, teachers are using Hope’s existing grading platform “Schoology” in ways we have not explored previously. Teachers are using Schoology to publish assignments, lead discussion topics and blogs, and keep track of assigned work. Teachers are using applications such as “Explain Everything” and “Screen Castify” to push out instructional videos, so students are able to learn new content and not just spend time reviewing previously taught material, which seemed particularly important to us when we found out the school closure would be longer than we originally predicted. Students in this age group really need to connect with each other, and so teachers are also using Zoom daily.
What’s Ahead? We have planned for a daily workload of between one to five hours depending on the age of the student and how quickly each student works. As we move forward into next week, we are working to figure out the balance of how much work to assign to students. We created an online survey of parents last Friday to gather information on how the actual workload matches with our expectations. We plan to shift our model slightly to define which assignments are required, and which can be considered enrichment activities as needed. As time goes on, we anticipate making changes to our model in order to best meet the needs of our students. In partnership with our families, we will continue make “Hope to Home Learning” available as long as necessary to ensure all our students maintain academic progress.
As the closure began last week, Hope Lutheran teachers gathered (in a well-spaced “socially distant” classroom) to discuss ways of using video to engage students online:
Teachers are maintaining regular weekly schedules to help students manage their time:
Hope Lutheran families have reported great success for the program, and have shared photos of students “in action” at home:
We’re interested in more stories of how kids are learning during this time – firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!