Dubai: A mainstream Dubai school, with 63 children of determination, has tweaked its distance learning platform to ensure they are not left behind following the introduction of digital lessons to check the spread of coronavirus in the UAE.
Three weeks after remote classes were introduced on March 22, the report card couldn’t have been better. But the “success” has not come without effort.
Sheela Menon, principal of the Ambassador School, which follows the ICSE curriculum, told Gulf News that the school was determined to bring children of determination on board ever since the teachers started training for the digital learning initiative mandated by the Ministry of Education.
She said, “Our teachers began training for the digital learning classes from Grade 1 to 10 on March 15. We decided to use Google Hangout for interactions and Google Classroom for sharing of resources, worksheets, extended home learning tasks, video links, teacher recorded classes and assessments. When we were planning this, however, we realised that some of our students would not be able to cope with the rest of the class. So we had to come up with something different.”
Menon said the school has 63 children with different special needs, including attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, with some of them having serious functional issues. “They struggle with numeracy and literacy, so we had think of a different approach,” said Menon.
She said the solution lay in holding special pull-out sessions where the students get parallel classes with the inclusion team. “We have a team of five special educators, counsellors and five learning support assistants. So they have drawn up a parallel timetable for the pull-out sessions.”
With attention span being a concern for many of these students, each pull-out session is divided into smaller sessions with the children getting a break in between, said Menon.
The pull-out classes are held from 7.45am to 11.30am, with 15 minute breaks in between.
“Through the inclusion team, learning support assistants and parents, we are ensuring that distance learning is going on as per the ability and comfort level of each child,” said Menon.
The children are also being provided with classes in yoga, dance and art. Their curriculum is modified and some of them are exempt from Arabic and French language classes.
Chitra Chainani, mother of student of determination Gaurav in Grade 6 and Gautam in Grade 7, said, “I as a stay-home mum have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching both my sons in Grade 7 and Grade 6 respectively take to the Distance Learning classes in which they independently handle all the responsibilities outlined by the school like morning registration, attending classes, delivery, participation etc. It’s been an awesome journey.”
Marina Mascarenhas, mother of Maegan in Grade 6, said, “We are extremely happy to see our ward enjoying and wanting to be along with the flow of the online class work ...they seem more comfortable working with latest technologies...thanks to the present day advances.”
The parent of an autistic child with sensory integration needs said, “My child, being a special needs kid, has been on a parallel curriculum. It has been so far good and my child is excited and is coping up well. We are eager to see our child’s enthusiasm, grasping ability and eventual learning picking up in the coming days.”