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Community Day School implements Google program for hybrid learning

The program has a mix of online and in-person learning.

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  • | 10:40 a.m. August 26, 2020
First-grader Tyler Sweeting tests out the school's adaptive learning program with teacher Leslie Ruben. Courtesy Photo
First-grader Tyler Sweeting tests out the school's adaptive learning program with teacher Leslie Ruben. Courtesy Photo
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One of the most persistent questions since the COVID-19 pandemic began has been how schools will work, with no sure-fire answer.

With a myriad of options facing schools of all sizes, Hershorin Schiff Community Day School has been selected for the Google Assistant Beta program, an adaptive learning module that allows teachers to instruct students at home, live from their classrooms.

The idea is that students can learn in-person in the classroom or log on from home with a similar experience and not be married to one approach. The program is being used in classrooms from preschool up to eighth grade. 

“About 20% of our families aren't sure if they're if they're comfortable coming back in person,” Head of School Dan Ceaser said. “ … We want to create as flexible opportunities as we can for our parents and our kids to engage our types of learning on their terms. We didn't want to create a track route that involves a long term commitment to virtual learning versus in person because we recognize that for some families it's a day-to-day and week-to-week decision.”

The new program works with a touch-screen Google Home Hub device that livestreams the classroom proceedings. The in-person teaching for the classroom remains the same but the online adaptive learning component has a mix of live video and check-in with teachers. The classes are also recorded for students.

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee that provided grants that helped cover costs. Through promotions and discounts, Ceaser said acquiring all of the devices cost around $2,000.

As class is now in session, teachers have begun to become acquainted with the new approach. Second grade teacher Barbara O’Brien says she’s been pleased with the technology so far. The teacher, who has spent 18 years at Community Day School, has two classrooms of children, and around three students that are using the online learning section. 

“With this, I've been able to actually send all the materials home and teach as I normally would,” O’Brien said. “It was really cute, one of my little second graders said today, ‘I feel like I'm in the classroom with you’."



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