2020 Goahero

Academics

Faculty Sharpen Skills for Online Learning

Northwest School teaching faculty have been deepening their skills in creating robust online courses throughout the summer. Each teacher is taking courses with the Global Online Academy (GOA). GOA is a non-profit program that works with educational leaders and teachers to ensure they have the strategies and tools to lead innovation and change in curriculum.

Working in cohorts, faculty are taking courses in one or more of four topics: designing for online learning, assessment, student agency, and wayfinding (systems that guide individuals through environments).

“Wayfinding is a great way to support our students in online learning,” says Spanish teacher Monica Van Loon. “When we don’t have as much facetime with our students, it is important to design our teaching pages properly, so students know where to find the information they need.”

Monica took the course with fellow Spanish teacher Clarke Reid. Both teachers took away ideas for the coming school year. Clarke plans to utilize a technique to make his content more easily digestible for his 6th grade students.

“Rather than spelling out an entire trimester of work, I plan on chunking my class content into two-week mini-units, each with their own modules and pages,” says Clarke. “It makes what students are working on at the moment visually clear.”

All the GOA courses are taught via Canvas, an online learning management system that The Northwest School has adopted for the upcoming school year. Math teacher Maddy Huggins welcomed that the opportunity to become familiar with Canvas.

“Taking the GOA class as a student definitely showed me what Canvas is capable of,” says Maddy. “Canvas is clear about where to turn assignments in, follow the course along, and makes it easier for our students to have conversations in their classes.”

Photography teacher Lyn McCracken took the designing for online learning course, which was oriented around how to create high-quality and enriching online experiences for students. Her biggest takeaway from her course was centered on the importance of creating community when physical interactions are completely removed.

“My immediate thoughts are about how to build relationships in an online classroom,” says Lyn. “I plan on taking more time with the curriculum and focusing more on student interactions with each other, and with me as a teacher. Since I will have roughly 50 to 60 new students I have never met, building that sense of community is at the forefront.”