Overview: Throughout their years in Westtown’s Lower School, students build close connections with teachers and other children. Our Westtown Distance Learning program allows those relationships to continue, so that children feel connected, seen, and heard. Alongside synchronous opportunities for live online community-building and learning, we are providing meaningful and engaging asynchronous instruction — through such means as teacher-generated video lessons and teacher feedback through online tools. Westtown’s Quaker values shine through every online encounter and every lesson. Although we are at a distance, we are staying close in many ways!
"Listening and seeking are particularly important cornerstones of successful teaching and leadership. I believe open-ended questions, without an anticipation of the answers, is an effective way to dive deeper, highlight the unconsidered, and strengthen opportunities for joint understanding."
- Karyn Payton, Lower School Principal
Whole-child synchronous experiences to support our students in mind, body, and spirit: Each class meets four days a week together for Morning Meeting, and the entire Lower School gathers for Meeting for Worship one morning. Throughout the Lower School, students engage in daily small groups, synchronous class that focus on discussions, critical thinking, and sharing ideas and work. Examples include math explorations and guided reading groups. The synchronous class time and schedule is intentional. Short synchronous periods promote maximum student engagement. Synchronous time is limited to 2 to 2.5 hours per day to avoid Zoom fatigue and to limit screen time. A blended schedule of synchronous and asynchronous work builds in breaks and opportunities for teachers and students to meet in small groups. Each grade’s synchronous time includes a weekly social-emotional/diversity and identity class, a daily live Special such as Science, Art, Spanish, Music, Library, or Physical Education. For 4th and 5th graders who wish to continue improving their instrumental skills, band and strings programming is also an option.
Vibrant asynchronous lessons: Daily asynchronous lessons are posted for each grade. Two for our younger learners (p-Kk and K), and three per day for 1st-5th graders. These asynchronous lessons cover the core academic content in language arts, math, and social studies. In addition, one asynchronous Specials’ lesson per day rounds out our students’ education by integrating academic skills, critical thinking, and in-depth learning across the content areas.
Student Choice: Our teachers utilize Choice Boards, which allow students to have autonomy in what they want to explore further, across the grade levels. The Choice Boards are organized to include additional ideas for learning and explorations, including math enrichment, literacy extensions, guided play suggestions, and more.
Fostering Relationships: Our students can count on feeling connected, seen, and heard through homeroom community meetings, group read alouds, and small group discussions and classes. Whenever recorded academic lesson is posted, or a Specials' lesson is posted for students in 1st-5th grade, teachers makes themselves available to students via Zoom for help and checking in. Teachers also schedule periodic individual check-ins to support student learning or for personal connections.
A Sense of Community: Lower School children can count on virtual versions of the division-wide experiences they love, including a weekly recorded Gathering message celebrating student and teacher birthdays. Special Community Fun events take place twice weekly, and have included story time, yoga, dance parties, Jeopardy!, cooking, and poetry.
Navigation: Students and families can easily navigate their daily schedule on their school-issued Chrome-based device. Using Google Classroom and an integrated calendar system, all activities, links to assignments and Zoom meetings appear automatically on the student’s calendar.
For Lower School Library Online Resources, visit http://westtown.libguides.com/lower.