Our Approach to Distance Learning
Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is committed to offering distance learning based in Waldorf pedagogy and curriculum in collaboration with parents.
Developing a Waldorf-based Approach to Distance Learning
To serve as a guide to families when we cannot meet for on-campus learning, the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh has established a set of expectations for parents, teachers, and students.
Platforms utilized to support distance learning include Zoom, Google Classroom, and Google Meet. The school is providing devices to families as needed. In addition, all materials are being provided for students.
Planning for All Scenarios
Waldorf School of Pittsburgh has developed plans for 3 scenarios:
1.) On-campus Learning
2.) Individual Family Parallel Learning
3.) Whole School Distance Learning
We begin our 2020–21 school year with Whole School Distance Learning and a plan to be back on campus in October. Families who wish to remain off-campus will participate in Individual Family Parallel Learning.
Early Childhood Distance Learning Preview
Early Childhood Faculty provides families with materials — videos, audio recordings, handwork supplies, etc. — to engage children in developmentally appropriate lessons. A weekly master schedule for the school is shared outlining the rhythm for each day. This schedule is updated weekly. You can see a sample here.
Circle Sample: Going on a Picnic
Circle in person or in distance learning provides an opportunity for fine and gross motor movements which strengthen brain development to prepare children for the grades, as well as connect them to the seasons. Circle provides pre-literacy skills through rhyme and verse. In distance learning, circle keeps children connected to the school rhythm, the rhythm of the natural world, and to the teacher.
Circle: Going on a Picnic
Poppy Kindergarten Lead Teach, Ms. Penny, presents a puppet story for children to watch and/or follow.
Children are provided with handwork instructions and the supplies to create their own puppets.
Parent Instructions Sample: Early Childhood Handwork
Miss Chirstina provides a video tutorial for parents who are new to handwork. She shares an explanation of how to help children sew a bean bag with this important fine motor coordination project. Children of all ages love beanbags and they are great for large motor coordination games.
Finished beanbag sewn using a blanket stitch.
Dandelion Kindergarten Lead Teach, Miss Christina, instructs parents on how to sew beanbags so they can support their children's handwork.
Recorded Samples: Puppet Story, Story, and Song
Auditory stories help children to hear and form their own images. It helps to build auditory processing and builds on pre-literacy skills. With the young children we do a combination of puppet and oral stories in distance learning.
A Sleepy Snail Looking for Rest, an original short Waldorf puppet story for young children by Little Friends Lead Teacher, Miss Laura.
Elementary and Middle School Distance Learning Preview
The Grades Faculty provides families with material, textbooks, and supplies needed for each grade. All grades use Google Classroom and either Zoom or Google Meet for synchronous Main Lesson each day. Special subjects teachers for Russian, Spanish, Games/Physical Education, and Handwork join the class for a portion of the live main lesson each day. Language Arts, Math/Pre-Algebra/Algebra, Musical Instruments, Woodworking, Art, and Cyber Civics all have their own separate live Zoom sessions. Students’ completed homework is expected to be uploaded to Google Classwork in the student’s Google Classroom. Students have access to faculty throughout the day via phone and email for questions. Optional drop-in study halls via Zoom are available for middle school students with a teacher present. A master schedule for the school is shared each week outlining the schedule for each day. It is updated weekly. You can see a sample here.
Video Project Sample: Class Plays
Every grade starting in first grade puts on a class play at WSP. In the Spring of 2020, Grade 2 creatively worked from their homes to produce The Cat and the Fox. With remote help of their class teacher, students were able to film and edit their play.
The Cat and the Fox, as produced by Grade 2.
Main Lesson Block Sample: Grade 6 Geology
In Grade 6 students enter into Geology studies, which is often considered the culmination of four years worth of studies: 3rd Grade focuses on the human relationship to caring for oneself through farming and house building; 4th Grade focuses on the human-animal relationship through Zoology; and 5th Grade focuses on the human-plant relationship through Botany. Now we arrive in 6th Grade with Geology where we focus on how the earth itself was created, what it is made of, and what is the relationship of the rocks to humans, plants, and animals. This block is the bookend to our first block of astronomy where we traveled far into outer space to gain an understanding of our relationship to the sun, moon, and planets.
The first week of the block focused on sedimentary rocks, with observations, experiments, readings, and a couple of pre-recorded Zoom lectures. Throughout the entirety of this work, students gain appreciation and care for the rocks and minerals all around us as well as see the impact of rocks and minerals on their daily lives. Experiments and experiences occurred during distance learning several times per week to give students first-hand knowledge of what they are studying. The experiments intentionally required very little from parents and no special supplies.
This block lesson was expanded to 19 days to include other earth science and environmental studies activities.
Ms. Goodman created a news show for Grade 6, taking advantage of opportunities distance learning created for innovating on how information is presented..
Students received kits of labeled rocks at home for deeper investigation.