The ongoing unprecedented circumstances of a pandemic have created many challenges for educators and learners across the globe. Since the emergence of remote learning in schools, there has been a constant discussion on whether these virtual classes will provide the same benefits of learning as in traditional classes. While technology has opened the door to vast and exciting digital opportunities, traditional teaching methods and learning should not be underestimated. By striking a balance between computers and textbooks, students here at Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS) have been provided with well-constructed resources that they use to equip themselves to be better prepared for anything and everything.
At RMS, students participate in real-time instruction via an online video conferencing application, Google Meet. By using this approach, teachers communicate with all students. This method provides students with the opportunity to interact with their peers in the virtual classroom through the use of audio and visual technology. This approach also helps our young students in reducing the feelings of isolation that many remote learners have the potential to experience.
To keep our young learners engaged in the Prep-ONE class, teachers plan an interactive daily schedule that is both exciting and intriguing. This routine helps our students stay motivated and involved. According to A.J.Juliani, “Our job is not to prepare students for something. Our job is to help students prepare themselves for anything.”
Along with the 21st-Century Educational Technologies used in the remote learning process, we still incorporate our textbooks in our Prep-ONE class. This is made possible as one of the tools teachers use to deliver a lesson is in DocHub. This interactive method helps our young learners as the teacher works virtually on the interactive documents with students. This process continuously engages our students as they follow the teachers’ instructions in completing their bookwork. We make active learning a priority in the remote classroom.
While learning to tell Time in math, our students had the opportunity to create a paper clock during our virtual Math class. While delivering this lesson, we made sure to dedicate time for students to ask questions. We paused periodically for the students to follow step-by-step instructions to design their paper clock and be creative with telling time to the hour and half-hour. To make it more interactive, the educator was constantly asking inquisitive questions to the entire class and individual students throughout the lesson. As Albert Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think.”
Here at Rowntree, we are making active learning a priority in the remote classroom. We understand how hard it can be for our young students to stay focused in a virtual classroom. That is the reason, we take our normal classroom practices and incorporate them into a fun-filled and hands-on experience for our learners. As you see in this picture, students are using their choice of musical instruments while practicing familiar and new songs in the Music class.
While celebrating Earth Day, our students got to experience and explore plants in the comfort of their homes. They got to watch the videos on how plants grow, worked on plant life cycle activities, and finally planted seeds and beans to grow their very own plants. These kinds of activities help reduce the amount of “screen time” for students and allow them to work away from the computers.
As we all know, students get bored easily if they are just sitting in front of the screen and listening. Our goal is to make presentations as colourful and attractive as possible, with the focus on students seeing images while listening to the teachers’ instructions. In our Prep-ONE class, we introduce various styles of art and craft activities. Here, the students can use their imagination while colouring, cutting, and pasting to create their masterpiece.
Finally, we post all our lesson plans online, due to the fact that some students might not absorb information as quickly as others. Whereas in other cases, if a presentation moves too quickly, students can get left behind. Here at Rowntree, we share our online schedules daily with parents and families via myRMS which can give those students a chance to catch up at their own pace. It also removes the need to be in front of the screen for extended periods.
While distance learning may be most appropriate at these unprecedented times, this doesn’t mean that it can replace traditional learning in all settings or that it is more effective than traditional learning. Combining traditional and digital learning is the right way to teach our future achievers. After all, what we all want is the best outcomes for our students. As Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”