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Saturday, 21 March 2020

Secondary school distance learning

We appreciate that this is a long email, but we have tried to cover the more salient points which we’d like you to know/keep in mind with regard to the implementation of the distance learning programme.

The distance learning program will be mainly delivered via Google classroom. Students should accept email invites sent by their teachers and join the classroom to become participants and begin lessons from Monday 23rd. For Year 11 and 13 students classes will begin after mock exams. Other curriculum documents may also be accessed on ManageBac.

As you know, each class is scheduled for 60 minutes. Teachers will post instructions on their Google Classroom which will provide links to resources and/or relevant documents for the lesson. Teachers will also be able to use Google Meet with small size classes, such as DP/IGCSE classes, to speak directly to the students. Students will need their laptop, charger and reliable internet access, as well as a dedicated place to focus on their learning.

Students should be online at the beginning of each class when the teacher will take attendance. If students cannot be online due to external reasons (electricity or connectivity issues) please don’t worry. If it looks like it will be a problem for an extended period of time (days), please email the curriculum coordinator and myself and inform us. Keep in mind that even teachers may have connectivity issues, so if a teacher is not online students may do other independent work.

It is not necessary for the students to be online for each class for 60 minutes. 30-45min will often be enough time to understand what the task is and ask questions if necessary. The teacher, however, will be available for the entire 60 minutes.

Depending on the subject and the task, students may well get the information they need and go elsewhere online to do research or go off-line to read a novel. This is called asynchronous learning; where teachers create learning experiences/assign tasks for students to work at their own pace and absorb content. Obviously, some tasks may be able to be completed in the time given and that’s all well and good. But students should not become stressed out if they can’t finish during the class.

Teachers will assign deadlines for completion of work. For work that is to be assessed, teachers will attach a rubric (marking scheme) which instructs the students as to the quality of work which will give them a high, average or low grade.

Tasks and assignments should be realistic to the year level and will be communicated with clear instructions. The point of having the teacher there is to clear up confusion, so students should let the teacher know if they don’t understand. Similar to a classroom situation, a student may have to wait for a response due to the fact that there are 20 other students who are on task and moving through the exercise.

Some teachers and classes may want to/have already set up WhatsApp chat groups, either by Tutor groups, subject, year level etc. All of these groups are up to the teachers and the students and the Secondary office will not be able to oversee the academic content. The group should not become a replacement for the delivery of the academic programme. All curricular information must be communicated through the Google class, ManageBac and/or emails. The other point is that students should be aware that if they are on a chat group it will be very difficult for the administration to monitor behaviour/disciplinary issues.

Students and parents are asked to understand that a teacher may not be able to respond to a query or email immediately, as their inboxes could well get full. If it is important and the students/parents have not heard back from the teacher after 24 hours, the parents can write to the appropriate curriculum coordinator.

• Year 7, 8, 9, IMYC Mr Chizyuka imyccoordinator@islzambia.org
• Year 10, 11 IGCSE Ms Nithyanathan igcsecoordinator@islzambia.org
• Year 12 13 IBDP Ms Vignard ibdpcoordinator@islzambia.org

While the online environment presents a number of challenges to our teachers and students, it also offers a number of exciting opportunities for professional growth (teachers) and personal academic growth (students).

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact any of us.

On behalf of Ms Vignard, Ms Nithyanathan and Mr Chizyuka,

Craig Patterson

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