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- Q: When Illinois closed schools on March 16, how prepared was Marian Catholic for the eLearning that followed?
A: Marian Catholic was very prepared because we’ve already had an eLearning plan in place. Marian Catholic has done eLearning in the past on snow days. The week before school closed, we pulled our teachers together and did a special Professional Learning Community (PLC) to talk about how to take the tools we were already using and deploy them effectively in an eLearning or remote learning situation.
- Q: What did the preparedness of eLearning at Marian Catholic mean for our overall focus on technology and learning?
A: Marian Catholic has been using 1:1 iPad technology for 6 years. Ever since that started, we’ve trained our teachers consistently; each year, we provide a minimum of one training session per month. Marian Catholic teachers really know how to integrate technology well in their classrooms, so teachers were ready to take that outside of the classroom for eLearning.
- Q: How long did it take to develop the Marian Catholic eLearning model?
A: When Marian Catholic saw the closing of school due to COVID-19 as a possibility, Principal Tortorello started taking a look at our current eLearning plan and how to adjust it for a longer period of time. Marian Catholic had a model with specifics sent to teachers on Friday, March 13. Our teachers knew what the plan was and were able to get everything they needed in place before the school closed.
- Q: How consistent has the eLearning been since its implementation on March 16?
A: It has been extremely consistent. After 3 weeks, Marian Catholic made a slight change to accommodate the workload of both students and teachers: we adjusted the schedule to allow for a day of office hours on Wednesdays to give everyone a break in the middle of the week and help those students who were struggling or needed a little more help with coursework.
- Q: What does a day in the life of eLearning look like for a Marian Catholic student?
A: We feel that maintaining a consistent structure was really important. Our student’s school day starts with First Period at 7:45 a.m. Students follow the same class schedule as they would in-person at Marian Catholic. Attendance is taken in every class period. At 11:55 a.m., everyone takes a break for lunch but comes back at 12:45 p.m. for Sixth Period to finish the day as normal. Teachers use tools such as Zoom to hold virtual classes and screencasting to pre-record lessons for students to watch. A lot of what teachers do looks like their in-person structure (with minor digital learning changes made).
- Q: How does attendance work in eLearning?
A: Marian Catholic teachers assign each student a short one-question “attendance quiz” in Schoology, Marian Catholic’s learning management system. Every period, each student opens up that quiz and answers the question to let that teacher know that s/he is in attendance. Teachers then turn in the responses to the quiz to Marian Catholic’s attendance office. If students aren’t “in class”, the attendance office and administration does a follow-up with each missing student and his/her parents to find out where that student is.
- Q: How comparable is a Marian Catholic student’s eLearning experience to what they would experience in an actual classroom?
A: We are trying to keep the two experiences as closely tied as possible. Though digital learning admittedly misses some of the energy and interaction teachers and students can have in the classroom, the two experiences are overall very similar. Teachers still present the class material and get feedback from students. One of the biggest things we wanted to make sure our teachers were able to do was to retain the ability to focus on the feedback they get from students and make sure that two-way learning was still happening. Throughout the last few months, administration and teachers were able to get feedback from the students as well.