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Uxbridge Public School stays connected with Screencastify Lessons and Music Monday

UXBRIDGE: The Durham District School Board (DDSB) started Distance Learning on April 6th, as a result of schools being closed, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators and students have had to adjust quickly to teaching and learning at home. While it has not been easy, many have found innovative and unique ways to make learning and engagement at home successful. We spoke to a few educators and students who shared their stories and experiences with us. See below for a Distance Learning success story from Uxbridge Public School, featuring Teacher Lisa West, Grade 7 student Kaelyn, Grade 6 student Finn and Grade 5 student Ollie. Grade 7 music teacher Lisa West explained how the transition to Distance Learning has been for her. “There was definitely a learning curve at the beginning, although with the Grade 7 students already having Chromebooks, they were all familiar with Google Classroom. I had to be sure to provide clear instructions for everything we did. Recording ‘how-to’ videos and lessons with Screencastify has helped immensely. Also, setting up weekly Google Meets has made a huge impact for some students.” When asked what Ms. West enjoyed the most about this innovative style of teaching, she replied, “I think this experience has taught me how clear I need to be in my instructions, [with] the lessons and the assignments. I’m also a music teacher, so I really wanted to do something to bring the school together with music somehow. For Music Monday, we hosted a virtual assembly, [] I arranged for some student performances and I played some songs on the piano while everyone sang along. Ms. West shared the students reaction to the new form of teaching, “At first, some students were struggling with the video lessons and managing their time. We’ve all been growing together throughout this experience, discovering what works best. Some of my students have reported that they like the flexibility. If they’re able to get their work done at the beginning of the week, they can enjoy more free time later.” Lisa said that this experience has forced her to take pause and really look at the way she teaches and to look at what is meaningful for her students. Kaelyn, a grade 7 student in Lisa West’s class, expressed what the biggest difference between learning in a classroom and learning from home was for her, “I like the way Ms. West explains lessons through video, because she shows the lessons on a white board while she explains our work, and I find it’s easy to understand. This helps my learning because I find that it’s simple to follow along and I can easily take notes and pause/replay the lesson as many times as I need, if I don’t understand something.” When asked if Kaelyn had any tips for other students, about how to stay focused while learning from home, she responded, “My tips for other students to stay focused are, to make sure, your phone/device is turned off and you are in a place in your house where you are comfortable. If you’re still having trouble concentrating, take breaks to go outside before continuing your assignments.” Finn, a grade 6 Student and Ollie, a grade 5 student, explained what their favourite assignment from Ms. West was, since Distance Learning began. “We performed a cover of the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, with our clarinet and saxophone, during the Music Monday assembly! We liked that we got to perform for Music Monday and see everyone in our school that we hadn’t seen for a long time. We were nervous right before but felt great after, and we enjoyed learning the Hockey Night in Canada theme song.”

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