The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario Virtual Learning Elementary School provides live interaction which takes place in real-time between the educator and students, while they are participating in learning activities. Students login on a daily schedule and can com- municate directly with their teacher, and with each other. Synchronous virtual learning is, in many ways, similar to a physical classroom, and students have access to allow for immediate feedback, interactions with educators and peers, and guided exercises to motivate and increase student learning.
Principal of Curriculum, Nancy McIntyre and Principal of the CDSBEO Virtual Learning Elementary School (VLES), Catherine English, presented information to the Board recently on the many successes of the new school, which includes 65 classrooms, 1672 students, 72 teachers, 12 early childhood educators, four educational assistants, one differentiated instruction teacher, one special education consultant, and two secretaries.
“The highest student registrations can be found in the JK/SK level and the Grade 8 Level. Currently, 83 per cent of our virtual learners are participating in synchronous learning – which means that they are learning in real-time with their instructor. Approximately 17 per cent of our learners have chosen to participate asynchronously, which means that they complete their work without necessarily being part of the live instruction,” explained Ms. McIntyre.
To help support this new school, the Board has purchased licenses for a variety of online, digital programs for Literacy, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Coding. Through these rich resources, teachers can access Ontario curriculum programming when planning for their students.
“Our Kindergarten students all have access to a Math Gaming program Zorbits, that provides teachers with feedback that can drive their instruction and assessment on student learning,” noted Nancy. “Many rich digital learning resources to support Mathematics and Reading have been provided to all teachers, including a digital textbook library with instructional resources categorized by theme or curriculum.”
The Board continues to adjust, modify and adapt to the needs of virtual learning families through the development of new resources, parent tutorials, and consistent communication.
“Daily, engaging routines have been established in the virtual classes to promote the tenets of our Catholic faith and to build school culture and community,” noted Principal, Catherine English. “There has been a strong emphasis on social-emotional learning activities whereby the students are learning about the benefits of a growth mindset and the acknowledgement of individual strengths.”
Learning activities are linked to daily online lessons and delivered to both the synchronous and asynchronous students. Students are also engaged in learning strategies to promote self-regulation and mindfulness.