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Zooming in on distance learning at Gibbons

Editor’s Note: This is the second story in our series about distance learning at Gibbons. The hope is that they will provide a glimpse into the innovative online classes our educators are teaching to keep learning moving forward for students.

Distance learning graphic.

Two weeks ago, educators plunged into online education, asking students to log in and learn. And they did so with a great deal of school spirit and success. Now, Gibbons will be continuing its educational journey online through May 15, with a return to in-person classes slated for May 18, 2020.

Distance learning poster for researching paper on Hamlet.

Considering this extended distance learning schedule, our educators continue to devise creative and challenging lessons to keep our students engaged, motivated, and learning. In this second story, we look at how our innovative educators are making their virtual classrooms just as vital learning environments as the bricks and mortar ones. They are also working hard to replicate, digitally, missed routines and activities that comprise the daily life of our school. 

What is a Monday without Motivation Monday? Well, iCube responded with a digital version via Zoom of its Monday morning session. Brent Nolan ’05, business educator and iCube moderator, hosted the session, which dealt with nourishing the body as well as the mind.  Watch the session on YouTube.

On Wednesday, theology educators continued Gibbons’ Lenten tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross via a YouTube video.

Our college counselors also have been busy. Their Wednesday online schedule included: holding office hours for seniors and hosting a virtual lunch with Gibbons Educators. At 7 p.m., they checked in with 80+ class of 2020 parents who, the counselors tweeted, “shared their grief, worries, joys, and gratitude amid so many changes.”

“We zoom so students can ask questions and just see each other,” said English educator Maria Hill of her English 12 Honors students. “They miss their community.

Much also is happening in our virtual classrooms. Students are zooming in from their homes, ready for discussions, debates, and group activities, as well as to stay connected. 

“We zoom so students can ask questions and just see each other,” said English educator Maria Hill of her English 12 Honors students. “They miss their community.” She also communicates with them about the Hamlet research paper they are writing through Twitter, Google Classroom, the website, and texts.

To assist them in writing their papers, Hill said she provided them with an interactive webpage “with everything they need to write an amazing paper.” Then she divided the project into eight deadlines, providing feedback to students in the comments section of Google Classroom.

“This is the ultimate college prep: writing independently and utilizing every resource,” Hill said.

So, what about hands-on subjects like art and music that often require equipment and interaction?

Music educator Mark Cashin said he asked his percussion students, “to practice real-time warm-up and rhythm exercises as well as play scales on pianos, take-home mallet instruments, or whatever is available. Each student has a pair of drumsticks and a pad!” Additionally, he noted, his band students submit recordings through Google Classroom.

“For all classes,” he added, “we are exploring the option of making an audio track of each piece to create a digital concert based on tempo tracks.”

Visual arts educator Rebecca Dason’s Art II students are completing their North Carolina Museum of Art artist presentation project. How? By viewing the Google Slide presentations and then adding notes and submitting them in a google slide, she said.

And students in her Introduction to Clay class created, “improvised workspaces and tools” for their sculpture project, she noted, adding that pictures of their home studios, “warmed my heart.”



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