Distance DV is DVFriends’ online learning model. It was developed to ensure continuous teaching and learning during times when our students and teachers cannot be together on campus, such as during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Weeks before the governor of Pennsylvania mandated that all school campuses close to slow the spread of COVID-19, DVFriends administrators and faculty were preparing for distance learning and developing the platform for Distance DV. One of the hallmarks of the DVFriends faculty is their ability to innovate in response to our students’ needs. Distance DV is another example of our teachers adapting to ensure that our students continue to learn and make academic progress in an online setting. Responses to Distance DV from parents and students have been extremely positive. Below are the critical attributes of the Distance DV program.
Live, Direct Instruction in Every Class
The cornerstone of a DVFriends education is direct instruction in both content and skills. Distance DV was developed with an emphasis on continuing synchronous, live classes with teachers via the Zoom platform. Students meet face-to-face with teachers and classmates in every class period. There are also periods of independent or group work for students to practice and use the concepts and skills taught live either during the class period or as homework. DVFriends students continue to learn new content and skills during Distance DV.
DVFriends online Instruction is as multimodal as possible and includes teacher modeling and guided practice, as well as hands-on examples when appropriate using materials and manipulatives that teachers have sent home or that students can find within their homes. Students in middle and upper school (grades 6 - 12) have their school-provided laptops loaded with assistive technologies such as readers, text to speech and speech to text apps and organizational apps such as Evernote to support their learning at home. Lower School students have school-provided iPads or are using home computers, and have other materials sent home by mail and email.
Distance DV has continued to follow the cascade schedule that is followed during on-campus learning with shorter class blocks concentrated in the morning hours. PE, clubs, Meeting for Worship and other community activities take place after lunch. It was important for DVFriends to provide these community-building elements as part of the schedule so that our students can maintain and continue to grow relationships and feel supported by the community beyond academics. See the Distance DV Schedules by division below.
Lower School Distance DV Schedule
Middle and Upper School Distance DV Schedule
Language Remediation and Executive Function Support
Language remediation and executive function support are central to our academic program at DVFriends, and both are continuing through Distance DV. Our language arts curriculum is built upon our accredited Orton-Gillingham based DVFriends Literacy Program, and that mode of direct, diagnostic and prescriptive instruction and remediation is ongoing.
DVFriends teachers continue to support students with executive function challenges during Distance DV. Advisors still meet face-to-face with students in the upper and middle schools twice per day. Teachers use several tools and strategies to help students organize their time, materials, and projects such as timers, chunking of tasks and information, and structures such as Sarah Ward’s “Get Ready, Do, Done” to help students visualize and plan task completion inside and outside of class time. Daily office hours provide additional one-on-one time to help students with homework or provide other needed support.
DVFriends teachers continue to meet students where they are and provide differentiated instruction through Distance DV. Individualized instruction and work assignments are built into the face-to-face classes, and teacher office hours at the end of every school day provide additional time for one-on-one instruction and support.
Maintaining and Deepening Connections and Community
Teachers and students develop trusting relationships at DVFriends, and Distance DV is structured to reinforce those connections. We know that during this time of physical distancing, DVFriends needs to continue to offer the aspects of our program that support the whole person, not just academics. In addition to daily class time face-to-face interactions, the schedule has built-in time for student clubs, social time, special activities and daily announcements, as well as virtual coffees to keep in touch with and provide support for parents and guardians. Our tradition of weekly Quaker Meeting has also continued online and offers an opportunity for our community to come together to share thoughts, feelings, concerns, celebrations, and community news. Activities outside of the school day have also continued, such as an all-school Trivia Night, movies, and a Virtual Talent Show. The Annual Sports Awards Ceremony has also moved online for 2019-20 and we are working on ways to celebrate important end of year traditions such as graduation, awards and moving-up ceremonies from a distance.
Since launching Distance DV in mid-March of 2020, we have asked students, parents and faculty for their feedback on a number of occasions, and we have made adaptations and adjustments as a whole and by division to continue to improve the distance platform and delivery. We will continue to seek input and refine the program as needed.
What Students are saying:
"I like that we still haven't lost the DV community aspect. I feel like I'm at DV in my home"
"I like having classes online in general -- possibly more than real school. I like that it forces you to be proactive in your learning but at the same time, I have so much time to plan for myself."
"I really like the way it still feels like I'm in the classroom. The teachers still have work for us to be done, which makes me feel happier."
What Parents are saying:
"My son likes the one-on-one contact/face-to-face and predictable schedule. The most effective strategy is the connection with advisor, and nearly daily communication between student/advisor/parent to stay on top of workload."
"The schedule is working great for my daughter because it's a good balance of group time, independent work and breaks."