Carlsbad Unified School District Begins Distance Learning

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With schools closed indefinitely, distance learning is now the new way of teaching and learning. The Carlsbad Unified School District began its first day of remote learning Tuesday.

“We had positive attendance today, with most students connecting with their teacher online," Superintendent Ben Churchill Ed.D. said in an email.

More specific attendance numbers will be made available after the district crunches the numbers, according to Churchill, but one of the challenges is that the district is not recording attendance in the traditional way. That means it will take time to determine who logged on or who had trouble connecting on the internet.

“This is a work in progress, but I feel great about what we accomplished today,” wrote Churchill.

In terms of what was accomplished with this launch, the teacher on special assignment for technology and integration Robert Allen put it this way.

"We built the plane as we were flying it.”

Robert Allen, Teacher on Special Assignment for Technology and Integration

Allen is in charge of giving teachers a “crash course” in teaching distance learning and getting the technology in place to do so.

Schools have spent a lot of time doing a gradual transition of technology integration into the classroom, he said.

“This has been a shot in the arm in trying to realize that vision in a unique way, and in a very quick time line, right?” Allen said. “As crazy as it has been in terms of speed, the fact we have the right people, the right team in place, it’s a testament to teamwork.”

His wife Jessica Allen is a Music teacher in the district. She said she plans to use the new technology to do a virtual ensemble with her students and has already practiced with a few. She sent them the tempo and the music, they each recorded themselves playing it and then sent it to her.

"I piece it together, so all their audio tracks line up and it looks like we’re playing together. We did it,” she said.

In a YouTube video Jessica Allen prepared for her students she encouraged them about distance learning. “I’m sure you must be feeling overwhelmed, but we have a plan and with this plan we’re going to get through this together," she told them.

Superintendent Churchill also included feedback he received from his staff on the first day of distance learning.

“One of our elementary principals wrote: The teachers I have connected with are reporting positive attendance. We will continue to get feedback throughout the week as they connect. Parents and students have commented that they enjoy seeing their classmates and connecting with their teacher.

Another elementary principal wrote: The teachers I have heard back from have been very positive. Large turnouts in their virtual meetups, students "turning in" assignments and participating. It's been great to see teams and teachers collaborating and helping each other out. I have gotten a good response from parents who feel like they are being supported.

One of our middle school principals wrote: I will say that our parents appreciated the support from the district immediately following the school closures, and our students are really appreciating the personal connections with their teachers that they got today.

One of our elementary teachers wrote: My day went well. I connected with half of my class this morning using Google Meet, and connected with the other half this afternoon. I’m showing them how to use the resources we created. So good to see those smiling faces!

Grade Level Facilitators all reported positive feedback, with teachers and students excited to see each other. They said the majority of their teachers have jumped in and tried out new things and are making it work. They are thankful for the collaboration, support, and dedication from everyone.

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