In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education announced a nationwide closure of schools and universities, effective from 10 March 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, schools have continued schooling students via online platforms like YouTube, Seesaw and Class Dojo. Here are a few examples of how schools in Qatar are rallying to give their students the best education possible from home:
ACS International School
ACS International School Doha has compiled its best practical advice for parents who are adapting to their new role of both parent and educator, as Qatar-based schools continue to educate their students through distance learning. ACS’s tips aim to help families make the best of new and unfamiliar learning environments, and equip parents for the more practical aspects of learning from home.
Their tips include: begin and end the day by checking in, encourage physical activity, connect safely with friends, and to make the most of an unusual and stressful situation. To read their complete list of tips for distance learning tips for parents read the full article here.
Arab International Academy (AIA)
AIA suspended all classes for students, starting 10 March 2020 and started distance learning the next day. Teachers are using the platforms of EduNation and Seesaw to send the weekly plans to parents with specific activities, learning material and assignments for students. Students upload their assignments on Seesaw and EduNation for teachers to review and give feedback.
Teachers are also conducting virtual classroom sessions (conferences) using the platforms EduNation and Zoom. Students from grades Pre K to 5 are having three sessions everyday, while students of grades 6 to 11 are having four to six sessions everyday covering all subjects.
The school started with virtual classroom sessions on 11 March and the average attendance rate is over 90% so far. Teachers contact students who don’t participate in those sessions to encourage them to participate and offer help if needed. The IT team at the school is also available at any time to provide technical support to students and parents.
Doha British School (DBS)
To ensure continuity of learning, DBS has stepped-up preparations and response to the shutdown through online home-schooling or Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Uninterrupted learning is at the core of DBS to ensure that learning for students continues as usual with the least interruption possible.
DBS online classrooms or Virtual Learning Environment as they call it, is up and running from 8:30 am since schools closed in the country. DBS lessons were uploaded in Google classrooms where videos, reading materials, and online work sheets are made available for students to work on.
Teachers are also available to give live instructions through Google Hangouts. Students are required to finish their lessons virtually as fresh and new lessons are uploaded daily – just exactly how it is when they are in school.
You can read more about DBS online strategy here.
Doha English Speaking School (DESS)
Teachers, students and parents have worked together to make sure the quality of outstanding learning provided at DESS continues during the home schooling journey. Their innovative teachers have used apps such as Seesaw and Class Dojo to send video lessons, personal messages and interactive tasks to students.
Equally importantly, they have been sending home a wide variety of “non-screen tasks” for example Art, Cooking, Music and Reading. They’ve suggested some fun, educational and non- curriculum based activities to keep students occupied outside of lessons. These include constructing a family tree, calling your grandparents who may be self-isolating, learning and performing magic tricks, learning and communicating via Morse code.
DESS advises parents to try to mirror the school timetable as much as possible, taking breaks for physical activity and playing. The school is confident that it can continue to weather the storm for as long as it takes, keeping to the high standards of education that DESS is known for.
DESS are also uploading some of their teachers best tutorials to their YouTube channel to give parents some ideas on how to entertain and teach kids at home.
Hamilton International School
At Hamiliton International School online resources were already a part of their teaching and learning, so because our students and teachers are confident users of technology, they were able to implement distance learning immediately.
They use two online platforms as our main means of communicating with parents and sharing work; Class Dojo for their Primary students and Tapestry for Pre KG – KG 1.
The Hamilton community feel that culture and connectedness are paramount. Daily welcome messages from teachers start the school day. Teachers are so creative in the way they have expertly tailored lessons to meet the needs of students. It is critical to get the mix right for the distance learning work.
Here are several online learning resources for students to complete from home to keep up the learning: 123 Homeschool4me, Bedtime Math, BeeLine Reader, Dr. Seuss to the Rescue, and Fun Brain.
International School of London Qatar
The International School of London Qatar believes it is crucial that they continue to focus on inquiry, collaboration and connection while continuously design learning experiences that are not dependent on physical space as they move into the virtual learning space.
They have created a truly helpful video guide, which include tip on how to create your own ‘Virtual School’ at home!
SEK International School Qatar
SEK began complete transition to online learning and teaching on 10 March 2020. Despite the challenges involved, the school team and community have been very supportive and positive with their educational beliefs and values centred on providing high quality IB education. As a technology-based and Microsoft Showcase school, they use various digital platforms to facilitate learning such as Microsoft TEAMS, OneNote, ManageBac and many other platforms.
Witnessing their students and teachers interact positively online with their smiles and great energy has been evidence of successful learning and teaching taking place, in addition to the work produced by their students. It has also meant considering and supporting students and families emotionally through their dedicated counselling team.
Online learning does not mean just sitting in front of your screen. It can involve quality instruction and engage students into various activities and respond to authentic tasks through writing, drawing, performing and communicating with family members. According to SEK, we must continue education positively and remember that every day is a learning opportunity to better ourselves and our world.
Swiss International School in Qatar (SISQ)
SISQ want to encourage kids to play ‘tabletop’ games now that they are isolated indoors. During the summer months, when students could no longer play outside, it was clear that students were having fun but there were also a wide range of important skills being developed.
Philip Bradley, the Head of SISQ, highlights the benefits of tabletop games to a child’s development and encourages kids to play table-top games while they are in self-isolation. Parents should help their children learn and commit to regular game times – at least once a week!
Games promote a range of key cognitive skills, develop motor skills, social skills, fair play and family time, and the best part is that adults can join in too! To read the full article about the benefit of ‘tabletop games’ click here.
In these times of restricted access to the college, City College is providing high levels of remote support for all their students. Their teaching staff offer lectures and general academic study guidance, through an online portal called Zoom. This is an easy and reliable communication platform, which enables staff to offer links for face to face video, audio conferencing, chat and webinars.
City College also offers their students access to their Virtual Learning Management Platform called Canvas. Canvas enables teaching staff to use a digital learning environment to upload their lecture and support material, which students can access 24/7 to suit their own needs. These measures taken help run educational process and stay connected with their students.
Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar
As the full implications of the global coronavirus pandemic became clear and public institutions began to close, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) faculty, administrators and ITS specialists convened to start migrating the college’s pre-medical and medical curricula to online platforms.
Multi-disciplinary teams were rapidly formed and tasked with tailoring content usually delivered face-to-face to suit the online environment. Students were quickly informed about the new arrangements and began taking all of their classes online from Tuesday, 10 March, the day after the college suspended all in-person instruction. You can read more about the WCM-Q response here.
Author: Charlotte Wright
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