With dozens of schools in the DC area closing due to COVID-19 and Mayor Muriel Bowser declaring a state of emergency in the District, a DCPS closure seems increasingly likely. To prepare for a temporary shutdown, teachers have begun adjusting their lesson plans for remote teaching.
Many teachers are preparing online resources for easy communication with students. Science teacher Zachary Meyers plans on having students submit work on Google Classroom and PlayPosit. “[Students] are going to take notes on Monday and then I’m going to send [them] a Google Form which serves as a benchmark for whether or not [they] watched the video,” Meyers said. He plans to make the deadline for weekly work every Friday by 5 p.m.
Along with Meyers, social studies teacher Jennifer Brown plans to create videos for student learning. She also wants to film court cases for her AP U.S. Government class using puppets. “I’m bringing home my puppets because I think it would be great to just reenact some of these cases as a live puppet show,” she said. Brown teaches two different classes, forcing her to come up with multiple plans for distance schooling—her AP U.S. Government students will watch bi-weekly filmed lessons and her World History classes will watch documentaries.
Similar to Brown, English teacher Belle Belew is making multiple lesson plans for her three different classes. Her AP English Literature students are going to rely on Canvas as their resource for reading schedules, articles, and possibly videos. Her Film Studies students are going to have the opportunity to pick movies themselves and write reviews of them. Belew’s AP Seminar students have a preexisting system, however. “They have a schedule that they’ll have to do their research and post things on the digital portfolio on their own,” she explained.
Ensuring accessibility for students remains an important factor in teachers’ preparation. “I think the issue we get into, especially when mandating you have to do this when you are at home, [is] does everyone have access to the internet? Does everyone have the ability to also do their work?” Brown said. Similarly, Belew said that she is unsure about what her students can easily access outside of the building.
On Wednesday, March 11, DCPS moved the previously scheduled professional development (PD) day from Friday, March 20 to Monday, March 16. In an email, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee wrote that “DCPS is accelerating our planning timeline with teachers and school leaders to ensure that our educators are fully equipped to support distance learning as needed.” The PD day next week will be focused on lesson planning and altering to make the shift to remote learning, if it becomes a reality, as smooth as possible.
Math teacher Jamaal Wise hopes the PD day will clear up questions about the future. “Maybe Monday will help us get a better understanding… of what to do or how to go about it,” he said.