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Students weigh in on how distance learning is working for them and what can be improved upon

June Forum: Building Digital Communities, Distance Learning, and Future Plans

June 1, 2020

The Forum wrapped up their last meeting for the school year. Along with administration members like Assistant Principal Katie Bendix and Celeste Barnette, Principal Adam Camacho, and Leslie Saldana from SDA Foundation, forty three other SDA teachers and students showed up to discuss current and future plans for San Dieguito Academy on June 1. 

Here is the rundown of today’s meeting: 

Building Digital Communities 

A centralized app that the administration wanted to implement a while back was brought up in the discussion to address the social and academic aspects of the school. Many students and teachers were supportive of having a dedicated platform that would have all communication, weekly activities, and social media integration. 

There is a possibility that this app will be part of the protocol for the San Dieguito Academy community members to download.  

Concern over student engagement was brought up in the discussion. 

“Getting students to engage and participate is the biggest challenge,” physics teacher Madhuri Agashe said. 

Students responded by saying that teachers can initiate activities to create communities inside classrooms. 

Some were disappointed that homerooms were now dismantled, so one student suggested that we can have virtual table groups that are small, consistent, and a way to bond with other classmates. 

ASB and Robotics created videos for incoming freshmen. Members at the Forum suggested that other organizations can also highlight their program and encourage student participation through these videos. 

John Pompeo, the current ASB teacher continues to put on projector shows on Tuesdays from 8 to 9:30 pm. If you have something you would like to showcase, you can message John Pompeo. 

Distance Learning Reflections 

Much of the discussion from students heavily weighed in the current distance learning structure. 

Students said they loved that learning is individualized where they have the freedom to get ahead, schedule their day, and assignments are given ahead of time so that students can work at their own pace. 

Others also noted that smaller breakout discussion groups, group projects, and recording Google Meets allows students to participate more in class and catch up with what’s happening. 

Students also said that Google Classroom worked efficiently for many of their classes and suggested that it should be the main mode of the student to teacher communication. 

Additionally, a calendar or “To Do List” on Google Docs was helpful for students to find all their assignments in one place.

There were also some concerns raised around learning concepts, lack of socialization, and adjusting to the new environment. 

What will the new school year look like? 

Nothing is confirmed, according to Principal Adam Camacho. SDA is closely following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), California State, and San Dieguito Union High School District guidelines for instructions. 

64% (9 votes) of people said they want next year’s class schedule to be in person assuming it’s ok for us to go back to school. The other 36% (5 votes) said they’d like to do a hybrid model following an online and in real life class instructions. One student said if we choose one model, the school should focus on consistency for the sake of communication. 

Luckily, the internet and technology access gap will be smaller than the beginning of quarantine. 

“By the time we start back in the fall, 99.9% of our students will have at least a Chromebook and will have the internet,” assistant principal Celeste Barnette said. 

Join the Forum’s Google Classroom with your student account for more updates. The code is sq76kx5. 

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