Starting at 7:45 a.m Monday – Friday students gather, joining our Zoom meeting to answer the “FunCash question” of the day. Something we had done in-person and continue now as a familiar start to our online meetings, this “question” varies each day, from telling a good joke to finding an answer based on academic research – all in good fun and a way to keep normalcy for CELCers to remain engaged and motivated. After the question, “FunCash” is distributed, millions of dollars during each trimester that is then “spent” on prizes at the end-of-trimester CELC auction! It is quite a tradition. This is followed by a morning read-aloud, just five minutes of an ongoing book, currently The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Regularly scheduled classes commence. Our day continues, with breaks for snack, lunch, outside time, some individual or small group work sessions, all until about 2 p.m.
Although we are not in-person, the use of breakout rooms lend themselves to smaller discussions, project work, and collaborative activities. CELC already has, for the past couple of years, been working with a teacher who lives in Antigua, Guatemala, so students are used to seeing Professor Billy online via Skype twice/ week. Now, instead of Billy being projected onto a screen, he teaches Spanish class in a Zoom room, from his Guatemala home.
Even with a total of eight students, CELC teachers conduct five separate math classes! Students continue to receive personalized attention from a teacher and work together to share ideas and problem solve. In science, the study of astronomy has students each creating travel brochures to learn about other planets; student-created brochures highlight what conditions would be like for visitors from Earth. As well, students are involved in creating (on a sunny day) from each home location a “human sundial” by marking and measuring one’s shadow during the course of a day.
CELC alumnus Jakob now “Zooms in” weekly from California to work with the Literature Circle classes. The two groups are each reading and discussing their assigned books: James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small and A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park. Jakob also assists students individually with research-report writing. As part of this year’s thematic study of Exploration and Discovery, each student has chosen to study a person who has made a significant impact in the world, in any field. These become the topics of focus in learning to write formal research papers; skills include outlining, note taking, writing and revising, and use of MLA format. Each student also will construct interactive displays to share what has been learned. The plan is to display these for the public at some point in the future, once we are able to gather.
Outdoor Education brings students on out-of-doors “assignments” that involve exploration and observation of the natural world, as well as physical activity. We also appreciate Ranger Russ at Meigs Point Nature Center for broadcasting on Facebook each week, live from the beach and water rooms. CELC’s monthly Mindfulness class and bi-monthly Yoga class continue online.
While this new way is not something we would have anticipated, CELC as a small school remains sturdy and able to keep students connected, engaged, learning and growing both individually and together.
Students regularly write and we will continue to post student work as we continue to move forward. For now, please enjoy some CELC student writing / journaling, documenting some of the beginnings of our online experiences:
CELC Day 4 Online School
Poem by second-year CELC student, H.R.
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
I am finding myself.
How about you?
The Rapids have Passed by second-year CELC student, E.R.
Time seems to have rushed by faster than a swishing river rapid, pushing us along inevitably, even bashing us against cutting rocks and branches, on occasion. Yet, we all survived the churning waves, our bobbing boat keeping to a relatively steady course throughout, eventually carrying us to a state of heightened resilience and connection.
It required great effort to keep our vessel intact, as it threatened to veer into the protruding masses of vaguely solid figures looming around every corner or discard us into the tremulous waters at any moment. Even with the communal contribution and adhesion given by all, this was no easy feat to accomplish.
Yet, here we are – the rapids left behind, the relentlessly encroaching future obscured by tortuous twists and turns, overlain by a layer of shifting, cloudy fog. We wallow in the calm, the unknown impending ominously in the distance, working to prepare our tiny boat for whatever is to come.
Journal entry by second-year CELC student N.B.
Today is a day of thinking. Thinking of what I could do about COVID-19. What I could do to help my community? What is the meaning of life? My mind bounced about, why are middle-aged people being affected now? While eating dinner, my mother turned on the television. I had heard about the sad news that comes from this virus. Sad news brings up more thinking bubbles. Now the thinking came again, what is happening? People are slowly dying because of this awful virus.
Journal entry by second-year CELC student A.Y.
Today was my first day of online school. Instead of dressing and packing my backpack, I set up my setup on my desk. I removed junk, tossed papers, and piled my necessary work items on my desk, necessities that include my computer, my assignment book, my pencil case, my first class’s binder, and of course, a snack.
I went to join the morning call prepared to learn and interact with my teachers and classmates. I was stopped by a technical issue of my own. The others were not able to see my face. Because I was required to show my face, I was forced to restart the computer and rejoin the call, causing me to be late on my first day of online school.
We spent the entire morning talking about technical issues. Just letting my future self know that we literally only planned for the first half of the day.
The afternoon was much more productive and efficient. We tested Zoom and discussed our lives with regards to Corona.
I finished all of the necessary work and then studied for the literature test in the next hour and a half.
Rocket by first-year CELC student L.K.
There she is, with her collar of cupcakes and a purple metal charm hanging down.
Those green eyes, a green like you never have seen. I take in this moment and soak up all the time I can have with her. This is because I never usually get to see her. That’s because she is a rocket, hence her name. Like a miniature tiger with black stripes all over. She is so fast and tiny and skittish, like a rocket speeding through the vast cosmos and compared to what it is passing, it is tiny.
Today went by like a rocket. I wake up and get on my clothes and go straight to the new family computer where I use Zoom or turn on Google hangouts to do school because it was almost time for the daily online school (which has started this week due to the Coronavirus).
Nothing unusual or exciting happened – we had to be cooped up in our house and we had to be social distancing, which I don’t like the sound of so how about we call it healthy spacing? In my opinion, we are acting like hypochondriac chickens, though at recess I did jog around the neighborhood and did it reasonably well considering that I had not done it in a long time. I have not been exercising as much as I used to, and it was 7/10 of a mile.
Once school ended (which was way earlier than usual) I did yoga and then after I finished the yoga I did stop-motion Lego films. I made my longest film yet. I find it very cool to reenact Star Wars battles using Legos and being able to see the Legos come to life.
When I first started writing this I thought it was going to be boring and this paper would be like an invisible castle and anything that had been exciting I had forgotten, but I guess that is how life is sometimes.
But not all the time, and when I look at her, Rocket, it all comes back to me like a rocket and as I am finishing writing this, she leaves, and it all goes away from me like a rocket. I want to write more but I can’t because my rocket has malfunctioned and yet, as I am saying this I want to know how it malfunctioned, but this time it does not all come back to me, like a rocket.
These are unprecedented times; move with hope, with courage, and with the strength of a supportive CELC community.
We invite prospective students and parents to please visit our online classroom! While admissions season is challenged, we encourage interested families to be in contact. Openings are available and applications are being accepted for 2020-21.Contact [email protected] or 203.433.4658 to schedule a “visit” and for more information.