Distance Learning Highlights

Good Shepherd Catholic School has been successful in the implementation of distance learning on Day 1 of the Shelter in Place, March 16. Today is week 10 of distance learning.

Preschool and PreKindergarten created a Facebook Group where they post activities such video tutorials on science experiment, art and crafts, cooking and baking: read-a-louds, and parents are able to share pictures and ideas to stay connected. Are you familiar with the “Flat Stanley” project that usually happens in 2nd grade? Our creative PS/PK teachers took a different spin on this idea and made “Flat Teachers” that were mailed out to students on Monday. The idea came about so the students would feel a sense “closeness” to their teachers during our distance learning. They are challenged to build castles for their teachers, read books with them, sing songs, etc. The hope is for them to find a little comfort and fun. To make sure each students’ wishes come true, the teaching team does birthday drive-bys. They Zoom once a week for both classes having virtual scavenger hunts, guessing games and individual and small group Zooms of 4 for social emotional support. In fact, they also provide virtual childcare while parents need to make dinner.

The first graders were really excited that we were able to meet virtually on zoom and create a Mother’s Day gift for their moms. They were concerned that since we would not be at school, that we would not be able to make a gift. Together they watched a video explaining how to do a self-portrait. They created a masterpiece on canvas and had a beautiful gift for their mothers. Distance learning helped make it possible to create a great gift for their mothers while not being allowed in their classroom.

The second graders were able to finish the novel "The Boxcar Children" as it was read aloud over zoom and they answered comprehension questions. As promised before our shelter in place, they were able to have popcorn and watch the movie after they finished the book. The kids were really excited to be able to hang out with their classmates, eat popcorn, watch the movie, and discuss it.

The fifth graders are very respectful and raise their hands to ask questions. An absolute favorite time (that always puts a smile on the fifth grade teachers face) is when the students raise their hand to use their bathrooms in their own homes. They know class time is class time, whether it be at home or at school! The students are resourceful as they find materials from their home such as flour and salt to mold into animal and plant cells. Last week the 5th graders made upcycle projects such as decorating soup cans to hold markers, or gluing corks together to make a plant holder and carving out the center to grow succulents.

The middle school staff came together with a unanimous agreement that our students' social and emotional health needed to be the priority. The team came up with a block schedule that limited students' screen time to 20 minutes per teacher instruction on Zoom and 70 minutes of student independent work while being available to answer any questions to balance the workload per subject. In addition, Friday is allocated as a day for students to have 1-on-1 “live” check in time with social and emotional healthcentered conversations. With a dedicated time for students to speak freely in a safe environment, there has been a noticeable decrease in the majority of students' anxiety levels along with an increase in students' academic performance.

Distance learning PE has been successful at Good Shepherd with a combination of daily workouts, motivational challenges like the push up challenge, and fun Zoom games each week! A favorite PE Zoom class was the “scavenger hunt.” Kids were sprinting about looking for different items and trying to get back to the computer. The students were clearly having fun and moving at the same time! Seeing a class of kids sprinting back wearing a hat, jacket and holding a spatula at the same time was very entertaining; it is always great to watch kids smile and play in P.E. class despite being on a computer. Next up is an all school Virtual Field Day!

We provide academic support for children with distance learning challenges. She currently is working with students in various grades assisting them with their daily assignments through Zoom. She provides 1-on-1 assistance as well as group tutoring. She also facilitates an after school "social" with students who attended the after school program. This is a time for the students to reconnect with their friends and check in with each other. It has been a great opportunity for them to stay connected from their homes and bring a sense of normalcy in these uncertain times.

Art distance learning for our 5th -8th grade students has been an overall success. Providing students with art kits to enable them to engage in the assignments. Having interesting assignments with various options; for example our shelter in place Snoopy comic strip was a way for students to express staying in. Offering students step-by-step directions, art appreciation assignments by watching virtual museum tours to the Louvre, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the British Museum in London, and video tutorials plus frequent check-ins also contributed to their art accomplishments.

Catholics pray the rosary because it’s a powerful prayer to God, through His mother, Mary. On Friday, May 15 we held our first school-wide interactive livestream event praying the Rosary recognizing the 2nd Grade Communicants and Class of 2020. Diocese of Monterey Catholic Schools, Superintendent, Kimberly Cheng, Fr. Robby Sullivan, Canonical Administrator for Good Shepherd Catholic School and Pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea, and Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, founders of the school 57 years ago, and John Grassadonia, Music Director led in prayer and song.

Growing Up in Santa Cruz.