Browne’s Academy’s campus may be closed for the rest of the school year, but its distance learning program is off to a strong start. All students, from preschool-8th grade, are continuing with a robust, comprehensive curriculum from afar.
Designing the distance learning program was a fast and furious affair, requiring all hands on deck. Teachers and administrators dove into learning about distance learning, taking online courses, and collaborating with other educational leaders and professionals. This is a challenging time for everyone, and Browne is striving to make thoughtful, empathetic, and equitable decisions for its families. Through teamwork and a bit of trial and re-tweaking, with input from parents and students, the program is going full steam ahead.
Browne’s students are engaging in both synchronous and asynchronous learning, using tools such as Zoom, Google Docs, FaceTime, and the school's student/parent portal. Interactive learning is a key component of the distance curriculum for all ages, as feeling connected socially is crucial during this isolating time.
Middle school students (5th-8th grades) have daily 40-minute real-time class sessions via Zoom in all their core subjects – science, math, English, history, and Spanish – as well as continued instruction in art, music, and PE. Students then have the rest of the afternoon to complete homework, get fresh air and exercise, and enjoy family time.
Lower school students (preschool-4th grade) have regular digital classroom connections to support educational and emotional growth. The schedule includes asynchronous learning, where teachers post the morning’s lesson and then hold office hours to answer individual questions. There are also synchronous learning days, where the students and teacher engage in real-time learning via Zoom. Lower school specials are still an important part of the curriculum, with music, art, Spanish, science, innovation, PE, and library teachers posting weekly instructional videos to engage and challenge the students.
Another important part of Browne’s curriculum is social-emotional development of all students. To that end, middle school students still meet with their advisories every day and have regular advisory lunches via Zoom. The school’s counselor is providing online resources for all students and their families and is available for individual conferencing.
Browne’s music teachers are continuing private instrument and voice lessons via Zoom and are even starting a weekly virtual open mic night so students can perform for the Browne community.
Even though school and life as we know it have been turned on their heads, Browne has seized the opportunity to develop an engaging, hands-on, predictable, steady, and community-building distance learning program. The school plans to share some of its resources to the greater community in the not-too-distant future.