Though the physical classrooms of Gonzaga Prep are currently empty, school has continued in a robust digital setting without missing a beat. Even before the possibility that coronavirus might close schools, dedicated teachers and staff had been working to prepare a curriculum to emulate the in-classroom experience. Since March 19, teachers have provided lessons in a virtual setting for every scheduled class each day. In the days since, we’ve seen amazing examples of connection, creativity, and generosity.
Here’s a snapshot of a few of the many ways learning continues in a virtual setting at Gonzaga Prep:
Students have taken part in video lessons in AP English, Math, Current Issues, and Drama. Guest speakers have joined classes via Zoom. Math lessons are taught using screencasting software. World language students to connect with fellow classmates to practice the language. Technology has met science with virtual experiments via online simulations. PE students stay active with workout lists and stretches on YouTube. Campus ministry provides daily prayer as well as guided contemplative prayer. Student life maintains community by holding contests with TikTok and social media. And of course, there's a lighter side to digital learning too. Find more examples of what teachers and students are doing on our Digital Learning Snapshots page, updated regularly.
The seamless digital learning transition was made possible thanks to the foresight of administration and teachers. “Last year we began leveraging technology to continue education in the event of a school closure. Truthfully, we were planning to continue educating students with new content during snow days, but that work prepared us for this extended school closure,” said Derek Duchesne, Assistant Principal for Academics.
Gonzaga Prep has long been a one-to-one computing school -- one technology device for each student. This commitment extends to every family, ensuring each student has internet access and the technology that provides connectedness to the learning environment.
Students continue to receive advanced instruction, including AP and honors classes. Counselors are providing college preparation counseling and wellness support. Teachers hold Zoom class periods and offer weekly office hours. Campus ministry offers prayer and reflections daily.
“To maintain quality and consistency in the digital environment, we set schoolwide parameters for implementing digital learning to promote the continued academic development of our students,” Duchesne said.
The challenge of a dispersed learning environment called for structure from the outset to establish consistency and stability. Teachers set up their home workstations and students found their own study spaces.
A typical digital learning day starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 2:30 p.m. Teachers post new lessons daily to their virtual classroom using video lectures, screencasts, teleconferencing tools, group discussion boards, or digital worksheets. Students are assigned material, can interact with teachers, turn assignments in, and receive feedback on their work. And coursework is graded. School holidays and weekends are still observed.
Though socially distanced, the full college counseling staff continues to work remotely to help students in the college admissions process. Counselors connect through digital tools in conventional ways such as conducting office hours and registration for next year’s classes via Zoom. As counselors, they’re also attentive to the social and emotional needs of students by providing wellness tips and resources.
The school continues to offer services through their Academic Success Center. While not physically open, the ASC is committed to continuing to provide academic support to all students through online tutoring, online resources, email, phone, and video conferencing.