Remote Learning Program
On March 8, 2020, Seattle Country Day School (SCDS) made the difficult decision to proactively enter into an extended campus closure in order to protect our community members from exposure to the coronavirus. After three days of planning and preparing for virtual school operations, SCDS launched its remote learning program on Wednesday, March 11. Though we would no longer meet in-person, we remained committed to advancing our students toward learning objectives in our curriculum, providing opportunity for social interactions with classmates and teachers, and maintaining a sense of normalcy and routine.
This routine now includes a robust schedule for our K-8 students that closely approximates a typical school day, including time for breaks, socializing, lunchtime, and opportunities for asynchronous learning experiences. Along with planning engaging remote learning experiences, our innovative faculty and staff have been exchanging ideas and sharing inspiration for remote lessons and resources, as well as addressing the social-emotional needs of students. Laptop loans, remote technical support, and financial aid resources are also available to families as needed.
This has truly been an extraordinary time for us all. None of us could have predicted that when we started this school year in September, that we would arrive at a space in time when we could not all be together on our campus. Through this time, our community has rallied to support one another and prioritize the needs of our students. Our community’s generosity of spirit, camaraderie, and resilience shines brightly and propels us forward. We are a community that continues to thrive whether we are on or off of our campus.
Kimberly A. Zaidberg
Head of School
A remote learning day at SCDS provides students with an opportunity to attend classes with their peers on Zoom. Teachers and students give presentations, annotate on shared screens, and perform small group work, among other shared remote activities. Our online classes are representative of a day at school on campus, where students and teachers alike are inspired to exchange ideas, solve problems, and of course, ask questions. Below are a few sample lessons from our remote learning program.
Kindergarten Teacher Ms. Spring and her Associate Teacher Ms. Olivia have been maintaining their daily routine as much as possible with their students via Zoom. They have also continued an imaginative project that has become an anticipated tradition in their class.
Each month, Ms. Spring and Ms. Olivia ask students to complete a self-portrait project. To complete these projects remotely, they put a twist on the theme. One month, the class examined how other artists portrayed themselves working at home, then reflected on how to represent their own remote work spaces. The following month, students were asked to gather materials found in nature to compile a tangible representation of themselves.
"Developing a sense of identity is so important in kindergarten, and one way we do that is through our monthly self-portraits," Ms. Spring said. "We explore different ways we can present ourselves through various artistic mediums. The big takeaway was that even though we're all in different spaces and our classrooms might look different, we're all learning together."
Grades 4-5 Science Teacher Doc O has brought her overhead projector home so she can mirror a typical class in her beloved lab. Students engage in lectures and participate in labs on Zoom to continue pursuing this year's learning objectives.
As part of a recent unit in civil engineering, fourth grade students used protractors to study angles of outdoor objects and slopes of roads and hills. They also collected data as they navigated homemade, tissue-box trucks down steep roads.
Fifth grade students have also been spending time outdoors, detecting how sun shadows varied over a single day, then discovering how the pattern of these shadows varied over several days. Grades 4-5 Science Teacher Doc O said these findings led to a discussion on how explorers such as Cook and Columbus determined their latitude on earth.
In fall 2020, Intermediate School students were issued a challenge. While some SCDS grades followed the time-honored and excellent tradition of dressing up around October 31, students in grades 4 and 5 made Rube Goldberg-like machines to dispense candy and fun, or Zoom backgrounds or screensavers to celebrate autumn. We’ve pictured a few of the offerings — including one of the “Goldbergs” in action — above.
Middle school students are also using the Zoom platform to take classes and connect with peers.
On one recent Friday, coined Friday Funday, students became the teachers for a day. They planned lessons to determine how to engage their peers in an interactive lesson on Zoom, then used their public speaking skills to present different subject areas to the class. Some student-led lessons included group drawing, musical theater, solving Rubik's cubes, baking, and mindfulness.
It is hard to replace that important social time in between classes, but middle school teachers have begun hosting social Zoom time to recreate this space virtually. On Tuesday, March 31, teachers hosted birthday celebrations for those with March birthdays, encouraging students to sing to one another, chat, and eat something sweet. The next day, middle school students--and faculty--showed their school spirit by participating in a Crazy Hair Day, where Grade 7 Science Teacher James Spies inspired students with his brunette wig.