Academics

Distance Learning 2020

If there's one thing that sets Burke apart, it is the vibrancy of our community. We thrive on in-person interactions, energetic conversations, performances at assembly, and hands-on projects in class. We value spontaneous interaction in the Library, the Atrium, and the halls.

Yet we are all confronting a once-in-a-generation pandemic and need to adjust swiftly. Until we can safely return to school, our goals are to provide a clear, consistent remote learning program – and to be creative and responsive in our approach.

As a small independent school, we have the freedom to learn, adapt, and improve as we go; to be responsive to student and family feedback; to design assessments that are not traditional tests; and, of course, to keep in close touch with each individual student.
   

List of 8 items.

  • Background: how has Burke used technology to date?


    For seven years now, Burke has implemented a 1:1 Program, wherein each student receives a tablet and each teacher receives a laptop. From Math to World Language to Visual Art, faculty are always exploring new ways to integrate technology and digital media into their classes.

    Burke also employs a cloud-based Student Information System (SIS), which centralizes all student schedules, assignments, course requests, and resources and provides a login for students and parents. This infrastructure, and integrated approach to technology, has served us well in recent months.
  • Training: how did we prepare faculty and families for distance learning?


    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burke elected to close campus on Friday, March 13. Students began their planned Spring Break one week early, while our faculty and staff prepared for a swift transition to our Online Learning Program.

    Our Academic Technology team crafted an online training course through PowerSchool, which offered guidance to faculty on expectations and resources for remote learning; they also developed an online orientation course for families and students, which was circulated the week before distance learning began. Members of the Burke faculty and the Academic Tech Team completed Global Online Academy's "Designing for Online Learning" training and shared insights with the full faculty.
  • Schedule: when and how do classes meet online?

     
    • During distance learning, full couses meet synchronously at least twice each "cycle" during 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 6th period; sample schedules are viewable in the right-hand menu ("Synchronous Class Meetings")
    • Some foundational courses may meet more often, including 6th Grade Core, which meets five times with two teachers, or Spanish 1, which meets three times
    • Class meetings can be lessons, discussions, or online check-ins and "office hours"
    • Teachers check in via email with any student who was absent from a synchronous meeting
    • When classes are not meeting synchronously, teachers post projects or assignments designed to cover the same period of time
    • Non-class synchronous meetings include virtual Homerooms and Grade Meetings on alternate weeks, as well as advisor meetings and learning support.
    Note: through G Suite for Education all synchronous classes take place through secure Google Hangout Meets.
  • Parents: how can they ask questions and provide feedback?


    At Burke, we have the freedom to refine and adjust our program as we move forward and to work closely with families. For example:
     
    • After the first week of remote learning, we surveyed students, parents, and faculty about their experience; leadership and department chairs reviewed the results and presented updates to the program via video.
    • We then offered a year-end survey to students, parents, and faculty at the end of May.
    • Advisors held one-on-one online "learning check-ins" with advisees and their parents in mid-April, discussing their progress and need for any support.
    • At the end of April, we offered seven online "Family Town Halls" (one for each grade), hosted by the Head of School, School Psychologist, Head of the Middle School, and Academic Dean for the High School.
    • We offered follow-up Town Halls for Middle School, High School, and new/incoming families in May.
  • Structure: do online classes meet all day?


    Like all of us, teenagers need limits on screentime – and too many hours of online instruction, coupled with homework and digital projects, can become counterproductive.

    Therefore, our online program blends synchronous sessions (class meetings in real time) and asynchronous learning (self-scheduled projects and assignments, which may not involve a screen at all). This mixed approach offers ongoing connection online, as well as the chance to work independently offline – including spending much-needed time outdoors.
  • Support: does advising and student support continue?


    • Advising: faculty advisors at Burke work with just 5-7 student advisees each year, so they get to know each student very well. During this period, advisors have standing individual meetings (once per 7-day cycle) and hold Online Learning Check-ins with families in mid-April.
    • Learning Support: Burke's full-time learning specialists provide one-on-one guidance in meeting the demands of our curriculum, During online learning, they are also available to students who may need support for the first time as they adjust to this new medium.
    • Counseling: Burke's full-time School Psychologist is also available both to students and families and send regular advice to all parents via email.
  • Tech Support: how can students get help with technology?


    Burke offers a tech support ticket system that students, parents, and teachers can use to ask for help. The ticket system is monitored by several tech staff who can manage support in a timely and organized fashion.

    For current families, our "Request Tech Support" button can be found on the Online Learning Resource Board in our Student Information System.
  • College Counseling: how do we keep moving forward?


    Starting on March 30, our College Counseling team is available to juniors and seniors for one-on-one videoconferences between 9 AM and 3 PM to discuss applications, financial aid, testing, and any other needs. The College Counseling team also will have a regular newsletter for upperclassmen and families.

List of 3 news stories.

Archive

Design Principles

 In designing our Distance Learning Program, we followed these principles and goals:

  • Deliver a meaningful and engaging learning experience to students while Burke is closed
  • Keep the expectations and execution as simple, clear, and consistent as possible
  • Leverage existing technologies, skills, and habits of teachers and students
  • Support teachers, students, and families
   

Synchronous Class Meetings

Below are sample schedules for synchronous classes, held via Google Meet; for periods without synchronous meetings, teachers provide an assignment or project designed to fill the equivalent time.
 
   

Community Events

Even though we cannot gather in person, faculty continue to create online space for students to connect and have fun:

  • All Grades: online Homerooms and Grade Meetings on alternate weeks, plus virtual Study Halls
  • High School: full schedule of "Senior Week" events – workshops, guest speakers, and even cooking classes
  • Middle School: online Trivia Afternoons and Scavenger Hunts, as well as casual lunches

Academic Tech Team | Spring 2020

List of 6 members.

  • Photo of David Panush

    David Panush 

    Director of Technology and Innovative Learning / Scheduler / HS History
    202-362-8882 x615
    Williams College - B.A.
    George Washington University - M.A.
  • Photo of Jennifer Chudy

    Jennifer "Jenn" Chudy 

    MS & HS Math / Department Technology Facilitator
    202-362-8882 x611
    Amherst College - B.A.
  • Photo of Jason Rosenberg

    Jason Rosenberg 

    Computer Science Teacher / Academic Technology Facilitator
    202-362-8882 x224
    Johns Hopkins University - MA
    University of Maryland Baltimore County - BA
  • Photo of Wan Ryu

    Wan Ryu 

    Associate Director of Technology
    202-362-8882 x645
    Rhode Island School of Design - BFA
  • Photo of Sarah Schriber

    Sarah Schriber 

    MS & HS English / Academic Technology Facilitator
    Johns Hopkins University - BA
  • Photo of Séverine Vogel

    Séverine Vogel 

    MS & HS French / Department Technology Facilitator
    202-362-8882 x221
    Emory University - PhD
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.