Distance Learning

FAQ

What does it mean to be a South Western Distance Learner?

Distance Learning

What is Distance Learning?
How is Distance Learning structured on a day to day basis?
What are some of the important distinctions between distance learning and face to face at school learning?
What kind of work can students expect when learning from home?
How will students learn new concepts and information each day?
How much time will students spend each day in distance learning?
How does this time compare with the time spent when in face to face school?
What schedule will students follow for distance learning?
What should students do when they complete the assigned activities more quickly than the schedule suggests?

Classroom and School Supports


What should students do when they are having trouble learning or keeping up with the content?
What should students or families do if they are feeling anxious about school while at home?
What is the best way to make contact with people at school who can help?

At Home Supports


What should a daily schedule look like during distance learning?
Where at home should students work each day?
What should we do if we notice that work is taking a longer than expected amount of time on a regular basis?

Additional Information


 

Distance Learning


1 - What is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is learning away from school campuses. It is a model of school where students interact with their teachers and classmates using primarily digital tools that support the district designed curriculum. Students use district provided technology in support of their learning goals.

South Western’s plan for distance learning requires all students to participate in each of their scheduled classes every day that school is in session. Participation means that students will interact with all of their teachers’ assigned learning activities using the district technology tools, including the learning management system Canvas, and the online meeting space called Zoom.

Teachers will provide guided access to curriculum goals through Canvas. Students will need to be in a physical location (i.e., home, library, day care, etc.) that can support accessing this tool for their online learning activities, assessments and discussions. Any student who is unable to access the digital resources should contact their child’s teacher and/or building administrator to arrange for assistance and accommodation

 


 

2 - How is Distance Learning structured on a day to day basis?

All SWSD distance learning is structured using two kinds of sequences - asynchronous and synchronous.

  • Asynchronous learning sequence: This sequence refers to learning activities, resources, and assignments that are organized in Canvas by the classroom teachers in a way so that students can complete them at a self selected, self-guided pace. Teachers will provide learning resources and activities through Canvas and direct students on how to access each part of the lesson sequence. However, teachers will rely on the students to complete the activities independently and at their own pace.

  • Synchronous learning sequence: This sequence refers to learning activities, resources and assignments that are scheduled by the teachers. Students are expected to participate in this learning sequence at the same time as their classmates. Most often, synchronous learning will be managed by teachers while using a Zoom meeting room, and they will require students to access learning materials and activities in Canvas while also participating live in the class Zoom meeting.

Both learning sequences will require student engagement of learning through Canvas.

 


 

3 - What are some of the important distinctions between distance learning and face to face at school learning?

Distance learning occurs offsite of the school campus, and it fully utilizes Canvas to manage and direct students’ learning sequences. Because all teachers’ learning goals align to the district curriculum, so too will the resources, activities and assessments. The differences for distance learning will be how students access those resources, and how they will demonstrate their understanding of the curriculum. In order for teachers to help students reach their learning goals through resources and activities, they will rely on technology to schedule meetings, and to monitor student engagement, participation and completion of learning activities and assignments. Students will utilize Canvas, Nearpod, Playposit, Flipgrid, Google Suite, Seesaw, Kahoot, etc. as directed by their teachers.

 


 

4 - What kind of work can students expect when learning from home?

Work will vary from classroom to classroom, although all expected work will align with district resources and curriculum goals. Students will be asked to:

  • participate in live Zoom meetings with teachers and classmates
  • view videos of concepts and demonstrations related to a lesson’s goals
  • participate in online threaded discussions, as well as other digital experiences defined by teachers.

At times, students will have certain non-screen assignments including reading, writing, physical activity, instrument practice, artistic creation, building and modeling projects, performing certain laboratory learning as in a science, food, or other practical arts lab. All activities that are non-screen specific will be given clear direction by teachers, and will be able to be completed using resources and materials that can be found either at home or that will be provided by the school as part of the curriculum.

 


 

5 - How will students learn new concepts and information each day?

Students will follow the daily schedules created by their teacher(s). Teachers will communicate with students through Canvas, Zoom meetings, and through a student’s district email account. When students attend Zoom sessions, they will receive direct interactive lessons facilitated by teachers, and they will also have an opportunity to interact with their classmates regarding the lesson content. Additionally, students will access engaging resources, assignments, and assessments organized and designed by teachers using Canvas.

 


 

6 - How much time will students spend each day in distance learning?

The amount of time that students will be expected to allocate to each of their classes will vary depending on the age and grade of the learner. The time will align with state recommendations based on the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of students. All students will receive information about their daily schedule as either synchronous (done through Zoom) or asynchronous (done independently through Canvas). Teachers will guide students through a schedule suitable for their class and within the established time guidelines.

In general, students should expect at least four days a week of synchronous learning.

  • Elementary students (grades K-5) will have synchronous Zoom meetings for their core classes, although the time allocations will fluctuate day to day due to small group, large group and individual schedules established by the teachers, and based on student need.

  • Secondary students (grades 6 - 12) will have approximately 30 - 45 minutes on Zoom for each of their scheduled classes with additional time expected for completing assignments and assessments in Canvas.

 


 

7 - How does this time compare with the time spent when in face to face school?

The time allocations for distance learning follow all course and grade level curriculum. District curriculum is built with State approved content standards, and the time requirements for units in courses will follow daily schedules based on the district approved school calendar.

Some activities may take a shorter or longer amount of time per learner, but each activity will fall within the total guidelines outlined in the district curriculum.

Students will follow the communicated daily schedule for classes. Each class will have clear expectations of what needs to be completed for each day of school. Students should work as long as necessary to complete the teacher’s directed learning activities, knowing that these directions are based on the time allocations given for each class.

 


 

8 - What schedule will students follow for distance learning?

Students will follow the daily schedule provided by their teachers. This will include daily scheduled Zoom meetings as well as the completion of learning activities developed within Canvas.

 


 

9 - What should students do when they complete the assigned activities more quickly than the schedule suggests?

There are some circumstances where students will complete their assigned learning activities faster than the schedule provided by their teachers. If students find the workload is too easy and they are completing things consistently ahead of schedule they should reach out to their teachers for additional guidance on enrichment or extensions.

 


 

Classroom and School Supports

10 - What should students do when they are having trouble learning or keeping up with the content?

Students are encouraged to interact with their teachers during Zoom lessons.
Additionally, students and families can email their teachers with questions or to seek additional help. When teachers have office hours or check-in times, students should make it a priority to check in at that time. Students and families may wish to schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting with teachers to talk through any potential difficulties they are having with their learning

 


 

11 - What should students or families do if they are feeling anxious about school while at home?

It is normal to feel anxious with the changes we are facing. Each school has school counselors who want to help students work through any feelings of nervousness or anxiety. Families and students should reach out to their school counselor. That information can be found on the district website by navigating to each school’s home page.

Additionally, the district has a social service coordinator who can support you in accessing resources within the school and community. Contact information for the social services coordinator as well as available resources, including those available in an emergency or crisis, can be accessed on our website at https://www.swsd.k12.pa.us/resources/community_resources.

 


 

12 - What is the best way to make contact with people at school who can help?

All students and families are encouraged to contact teachers directly through Canvas or school email. Teachers will be scheduling check-in times and/or office hours where students will be given the opportunity to get additional help as needed. Families may also reach out to their building principal.

 


 

At Home Supports

13 - What should a daily schedule look like during distance learning?

Students should begin each day as if they are getting ready to go to school; following a routine will help them to prepare for the day. Students should find a distraction free space in their home to work each day. Students are encouraged to have all of their materials readily available throughout the day. While the teachers have designed lessons to best meet the needs of all learners, it will take some students longer to complete assignments than others; try your best to complete all assignments each day.

 


 

14 - Where at home should students work each day?

Students should establish a quiet, distraction free area in the home where they have access to an adult when a technical issue arises, or when they have a question about the lesson.

 


 

15 - What should we do if we notice that work is taking a longer than expected amount of time on a regular basis?

The best solution for this situation is to reach out directly to your teacher and share information about how long an assignment is taking. Teachers can then provide feedback and guidance about what to do in this situation. Teachers may also want to bring in other members of the school or grade level team to brainstorm possible solutions for how to best help.


Additional Information

Information about Canvas:

Check out this Youtube Video Recording of Canvas Webinar - Sept 2020.  This webinar gives families and students a basic overview of how to get to Canvas, navigate through Canvas, and use during distance learning.             

 

Additional Links:

See information from the Central Office team:  Distance Learning Information:  Central Office Updates.

Or Visit the Google Site: Distance Learning for Families for additional information.

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