What’s it like in virtual school?

What’s it like in virtual school?

Although the numbers are tapering off, many families are choosing to enrol their child in DDSB@Home. Since my children have now done two years virtually, I thought I would tell you a bit about what it’s like.

In Pickering/Durham, the ENTIRE class is online. The teacher is not simultaneously teaching in-person and online. It’s not possible for a teacher to do both jobs well, and it sets both the teacher and their students up for failure. A dedicated online classroom like DDSB@Home, while not exactly a replication of an in-class experience, sets everyone up for success.

Since the class is fully online, the programming is geared specifically toward a virtual environment. Teachers use tools like YouTube videos, Kahoot! quizzes, and Google Classroom and the Google suite of tools to teach and assign work. Kids are given social time to connect as well—my kindergarten-aged son had weekly playgroups so that it was focused on a smaller group of children, and my fifth grader was put into breakout rooms based on an interest, like Roblox or dance. Kids are also put into small groups for schoolwork to get more individualized and hands-on learning from their teacher.

IEPs are respected, although EA support is limited. Even when no formal IEP is in place, the teachers and principals of the virtual campuses are keen to work with children to support their individualized learning needs.

Classrooms are not limited to geographical areas, so some students may be from Pickering and some may be from Oshawa. This unfortunately makes it hard to schedule real-life playdates at playgrounds or basketball courts, but it does mean that class availability isn’t restricted because there aren’t enough interested students in your area.

My daughter had one extremely successful year, and one less successful year, but that was on her end, not her teachers’. My son has had his entire kindergarten experience on a computer, which is antithetical to the idea of what kindergarten should be—but his wonderful teacher still made it a warm and engaging class. I do not feel like my children’s learning suffered at all from being online.

In short, DDSB@Home isn’t for every student, but they’ll fight to make it accessible for every family who wishes to attend.

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