Being a project-based learning (PBL) district with a New Tech Network approach made Winton Woods City Schools’ transition to virtual learning a smooth one. At the beginning of the school year, students in Grades 7-12 received a chromebook and an optional free wifi hotspot for the entire year. The Technology Department also distributed Chromebooks for students in Grades 2-6. Digital platforms associated with the New Tech Network called Echo allows students to continue their assignments, course work, and connect with their teachers online without interruption. This online learning management system also provides performance information and course agendas for parents to review.
Warrior parent and alum Michelle DeMarcia Davis said during this unique situation, “I am glad to be a part of Winton Woods School District. They are doing an outstanding job striving to keep our community connected and safe. They are setting our children up for success through supplying Chromebooks, the Nutrition is the Mission bus, and lots of communication.” Her two sons Malik and Mikal are in the fourth grade at Winton Woods Elementary School. Malik has enjoyed learning about the ecosystem and how to make putty and homemade glue. His brother, Mikal, enjoys his art, music, and math classes.
Mikal’s homeroom teacher Melissa Webb sends out a weekly update to her parents and students to let them know what will happen in the upcoming week and posts assignments for the week in the course agenda by day in Echo. “All of my students and their parents have access to my email address and have been contacting me that way,” said Ms. Webb. “Remote learning is helping students further develop valuable life skills. Students are learning how to balance their time, ask questions when they are not sure how to do something, be responsible by ensuring assignments are in by the due date, and take initiative in their own learning.”
High school students also shared how they believe they were set up for success. “The district prepared me well,” said tenth grade student Keyshana Mitchell. Fellow peers Malacki Ward and Chiannah Terrell also agreed and mentioned how PBL has made a positive impact on their virtual learning experience. “Projects that we would do in person, we switched to online which made it easier,” said Ward. “However, I do miss being amongst my peers. I miss being able to work with them and the collaborative effort when doing presentations.” Through PBL, students learn through appropriate, challenging, authentic projects as they explore, adapt and engage the world around them. This rich academic experience provides our students with increased opportunities to be positive contributors, creative innovators and strong leaders in our community and in our world. When asked if skills gained from PBL like critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and learning how to solve real world issues helped them adapt; Mitchell, Ward, and Terrell agreed. Winton Woods High School Head of the Social Studies Department and teacher Andrew Lock added, “Our students are technology savvy. Beyond having the computers, it is also knowing how to use it, and the online tools we also have. Had we never experienced those before, I doubt we would be using them.”
A typical day for Lock would include conference calls, answering questions from students and parents, a lot of planning, and teaching classes on Google Hangouts, to name a few. “The benefits of attending class is students can receive immediate assistance and ask questions as I teach,” said Lock. “One of the big techniques we use in PBL, even when we are not virtually learning is moving at a pace that is suited for all our students. We are there to help if they need it and facilitate their learning that way. One thing that is great about our district is since this is one of the ways we were already teaching, it was seamless in implementing so much technology into our learning process, the transition to virtual learning was relatively easy for us because students already knew a lot of the tools that we were using. This allows them to keep working at their own pace and meet us online when they need help.”
Per Governor DeWine, virtual learning will continue through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. For all the latest information and resources including virtual learning, meal distribution, and coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention during the district closure, please visit www.wintonwoods.org/virtual-learning on a daily basis.