Student Life

Leonia High School’s Approach to Distance Learning

The 2020 pandemic, or COVID-19, has affected individuals all over the world. The government has advised social distancing, leading to a multitude of people to begin working from home, including students and faculty. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Leonia managed to maintain the engaging and productive classroom environment while online.

A popular method of distance learning that multiple teachers have used is Google Meet or Zoom. These video chat platforms have allowed students to see and hear their teacher while the teacher is able to project power points, diagrams, etc. In addition, both platforms have a chat feature, allowing the students to participate with their peers and the teacher. Video chatting has received exceedingly positive feedback, as it mimics the typical classroom environment immensely. In fact, as included by Dr. Bertolini in the daily newsletter, a parent explains how the “The way the teachers are keeping my kids’ attention is something that really needs to be acknowledged. The daily lesson plans are well thought out, I am watching my children learn new things.” Video chatting has proven to be a successful element of distance learning, ultimately emphasizing the efficiency at which Leonia migrated to online schooling. 

Another popular way that teachers communicate with their students is by doing discussions. This could mimic a Socratic seminar, or could just be a resource for students to ask questions to their teacher if certain work was assigned. These are commonly held on Google Classroom so that students are able to have a discussion with the class or even write private comments to their teacher. In fact, in the daily newsletter, Dr. Bertolini quotes a parent whose son is “actively participating in all online classes by corresponding throughout the day with his teachers according to the set curriculum.” Students were not new to Google Classroom when distance learning began, so the familiarity associated with it was very comforting. Although these discussions may not mirror the ideal classroom setting, they allow the students to be productive and continue their work for that class, making the Google Classroom discussions successful.

  An additional way that teachers have been teaching their students is by posting videos. While some teachers make and record videos themselves, other teachers, especially math teachers, are fond of using websites such as Khan Academy due to its efficiency and the available practice questions. A Leonia High School Senior who wishes to remain anonymous shares her experience with watching these videos, and how they “cleared up almost all confusion about the material because [she] could continuously rewatch the videos if it did not make sense.” Videos could also be taken directly from Youtube, which has videos for every subject, including physical education and other electives. In fact, Dr. Bertolini included a parent’s opinion on videos in the daily newsletter, stating her claim of how “The encouragement given by the teachers as exhibited through teacher videos and classroom discussions are phenomenal.” Overall, videos are available for almost every subject the curriculum offers, making this method one of the best approaches to distance learning. 

Although this pandemic is an exceedingly difficult obstacle for our world to face, it is reassuring knowing that our education can continue. Distance learning not only protects us from exposure to sickness, but it also allows for a distraction from all of the unfortunate news. Despite the circumstances, Leonia’s approach to distance learning has been a great experience.