Distance Learning – What are Banner Students in the Primary School Doing?

It has been now several weeks since COVID-19 impacted all of Maryland’s schools, including The Banner School, and while the students and teachers are all adapting to the challenges of distance learning, the mission of The Banner School still remains the same: to provide an academically challenging curriculum in a secure environment, to motivate students to achieve to the best of their abilities, and, in so doing, to stimulate a lifelong love of learning.   

Our preschool program now includes take-home activities highlighted in our STEAM-based curriculum, the Investigators Club, combined with videos and lessons through Flipgrid so that students don’t miss out on familiar morning story times with their teachers that are part of their daily Circle Time. 

Our PE program for both preschool and primary grades has evolved to include a combination of pre-recorded and live Zoom sessions.  The students are really enjoying the social interaction with Mrs. Harriger!  She is also coordinating a Virtual Field Day for Banner families to participate in while at home, an end-of-year tradition that will unfortunately not be held on campus this year. 

The Primary School program also includes a combination of prepared take-home packets and supplemental online resources.  Mrs. Gardner, the Primary Science and Technology teacher, continued our Pearson Elevate Science curriculum from home, allowing students in grades first through fourth to access the material from Pearson’s online. She has also provided students with their login credentials so that students in grades 2-5 who have a desktop or laptop computer with an internet connection can access our Tynker coding and practice typing skills from the safety of home.  Younger students in kindergarten and first grade need an iPad to be able to access their account on Tynker.   

Ms. McNamara’s second grade is practicing their cursive handwriting, a key component of Banner’s primary language arts program that is no longer taught in the public schools.  Ms. Bannasch has been continuing the third grade class’s poetry unit virtually, and our students are writing limericks and cinquains – five line stanzas – which they presented during one of our recent virtual All School Assemblies.  

Spanish is offered to all of Banner’s students from grades kindergarten to eighth grade.  Those in the primary grades are following the curriculum through Rockalingua, an online collection of videos, games, songs, worksheets and more that’s designed to make learning Spanish both fun and easy. 

Our primary music and arts faculty have prepared pre-recorded lessons that are available in Flipgrid.  Mrs. McWilliams, our Primary Music teacher and librarian, has been able to keep up our tradition of weekly assemblies by meeting with the Production elective class to put together video assemblies that can be shared with the whole Banner community.  Primary students have been featured standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, sharing their work and singing our Banner School song.  It is something that we have all missed and are happy to include as part of our distance learning program. 

Mrs. Williams, our art teacher, is organizing a quarantine art exhibit that will feature students’ work that they have captured during their time away from campus. Students are sending in postcards to campus that will be gathered and displayed when we return to campus.  

Banner’s learning environment for our Primary Students has evolved temporarily from the traditional brick-and-mortar buildings of our historic campus in which our teachers lectured and led discussions face-to-face, to one of Zoom classroom meetings, online PE classes, and virtual Circle and story times.  The commitment of our faculty and staff to promoting the wonder, curiosity and spirit of childhood in each and every one of our Banner Bobcats, remains as steadfast as always.  

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