Online Learning

Online Learning

Woodberry's online learning program aims to be three things: predictable, simple, and flexible. We believe these criteria will help both teachers and boys succeed. Supporting these three goals is the faculty's constant commitment to know, challenge, and love each boy. In the spring trimester we will be placing particular emphasis on knowing the boys by maintaining close contact and upholding our existing relationships and loving them by offering all of the support we can give them. 
Predictable: We know from long experience that boys do best when they have structure and routine. Our daily schedule aims to help them with that. We encourage parents to help boys stay with a predictable routine, which includes waking up in a timely fashion, eating breakfast before class if in the Eastern time zone, and going to bed at a reasonable hour. 
Simple: Both boys and faculty are going beyond their comfort zone with this mode of teaching and learning. We will try to minimize technology-induced headaches for you and the boys and add complexity as we go along. 
Flexible: We won't be perfect. In fact, we may never be perfect. But we will be flexible and adaptable, both to support boys with time zone and technology issues and to ensure we don't let policy and procedure get in the way of educating your sons. We ask you to extend a measure of flexibility and understanding to us, as well.
Online learning is a new adventure for many faculty, students, and parents. We're committed to working together and helping boys reach their full potential at this top boys' prep school.

Tips for Taking Online Classes

List of 8 items.

  • Treat an online course like a “real” course.

    This guide from Northeastern University provides a ton of great tips. 
    When it comes to online classes, you need to have the discipline to sit down and say, “I am going to work on this,” as well as the dedication to actually follow through. Though you can be flexible as to when you choose to complete your work during the week, you can’t put it off indefinitely.

    One of the easiest ways to ensure follow through is to remember that you are paying to take this online course, just as you would for a traditional, in-person class. You must “show up” if you’re going to get real value out of your class. Treat your online classes the same way you would a face-to-face class—or, better yet, a job—and you’ll be off to the right start.
  • Hold yourself accountable

    Set goals at the beginning of the semester, and check in with yourself weekly. In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll often receive verbal or visual reminders of an assignment’s upcoming due date. But without a professor actively reminding you, it’s up to you to make sure you’ve allotted enough time to complete the work so you’re not starting an assignment the day before it’s due.

    If you’re having trouble holding yourself responsible, pair up with a fellow classmate, or enlist the help of a spouse or friend to check in as an accountability partner. By being organized, proactive, and self-aware, you can get the most from your online class even when life outside of school becomes chaotic.
  • Practice time management

    The flexibility to create your own schedule is often one of the biggest appeals of taking online classes. But that freedom can also be detrimental if you do not have solid time management skills. Without them, you might easily to find yourself cramming before classes or handing in subpar assignments.

    Though how you manage your time will depend on your schedule, learning style, and personality, here are some universally valuable tips to help you practice and improve your time management skills:

    Look at the syllabus at the start of the semester and make note of major assignments. Mark them on a calendar you check regularly so you know what workload is coming in the weeks ahead. Don’t forget to factor in prior commitments that may interfere with your regular study schedule, such as weddings or vacations, so you can give yourself enough extra time to complete assignments.
    • Create a weekly schedule that you follow, designating certain hours each week to reading, watching lectures, completing assignments, studying, and participating in forums. Commit to making your online coursework part of your weekly routine, and set reminders for yourself to complete these tasks.
    • When working on your assignments, try time-blocking, allotting yourself a certain amount of time for each task before moving on to the next one and setting a timer to keep you accountable.
    • Check in periodically throughout the term, and look at how you’re spending your time. Ask yourself: How much time am I dedicating to course reading and assignments? Am I regularly underestimating the time it’s taking me to get things done, forcing me to cram the nights before the exams? A little self-reflection and adjustment can go a long way.
  • Create a regular study space and stay organized

    Set up a dedicated learning environment for studying. By completing your work there repeatedly, you’ll begin to establish a routine. Whether your workspace is your kitchen table, a library, or the corner booth in a local coffee shop, it’s important to determine what type of environment will work best for you. Experiment to discover which type of setting boosts your productivity. Wherever you choose, make sure there’s high-speed internet access so you’re not trying to take an online course over a lagging connection.

    Setting up a regular workspace or office will also help you to stay organized. Knowing exactly where important dates, files, forms, syllabi, books, and assignments live will help keep you on track towards hitting your goals. When setting up your study space, make sure you:
    • Have a high-speed internet connection
    • Have the required books, materials, and software for the course
    • Have headphones for listening to lectures or discussions (especially important in shared spaces)
  • Eliminate distractions

    From Netflix to social media to dishes piling up in the sink, you’ll be faced with many distractions that can easily derail your studies. The best online students know how to lessen these distractions and set aside time to focus.

    Exactly how much of a challenge these distractions will prove to be will depend on your own unique personality and situation. Some might find that they can tune out a noisy home by listening to music. Others might choose to work from a local coffee shop or library to eliminate their urge to multitask at home. Ultimately, you will need to find a strategy that works best for you.

    Regardless of where you choose to work, consider turning your cell phone off to avoid losing focus every time a text message or notification pops up. And if you’re still having trouble resisting the temptation to check your email or surf the web, try downloading a website blocker. Using applications like Cold Turkey and Freedom can help eliminate distractions by blocking the apps or websites that tend to compete for your attention, such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Figure out how you learn best

    Once you’ve established where you’ll learn, think about when and how you accomplish your best work. If you’re a morning person, make time to study first thing. More of a night owl? Set aside an hour or two after dinner to cozy up to your computer. If the kids require your morning and evening attention, try to carve out a study session mid-day while they’re at school. Brew your usual cup of coffee, put on your go-to playlist, and do whatever you need to get into the zone and down to business.

    Not everyone learns the same way, so think about what types of information help you best grasp new concepts and employ relevant study strategies. If you’re a visual learner, for example, print out transcripts of the video lectures to review. Learn best by listening? Make sure to build time into your schedule to play and replay all audio- and video-based course content.
  • Actively participate

    Participate in the course’s online forum to help you better understand course materials and engage with fellow classmates. This might involve commenting on a classmate’s paper on a discussion board or posting a question about a project you’re working on. Read what other students and your teacher are saying, and if you have a question, ask for clarification.

    Make sure you are checking in as often as you can, too. The flexibility of online learning means that if you have 30 minutes before dinner plans, you could squeeze in a discussion response around your schedule. Set a goal to check in on the class discussion threads every day.

    And if you do feel yourself falling behind, speak up. Don’t wait until an assignment is almost due to ask questions or report issues. Email your teacher and be proactive in asking for help.
  • Leverage your network

    Online classes may sometimes make you feel like you are learning on your own, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most online courses are built around the concept of collaboration, with teachers and instructors actively encouraging that students work together to complete assignments and discuss lessons.

    Build relationships with other students by introducing yourself and engaging in online discussion boards. Your peers can be a valuable resource when preparing for exams or asking for feedback on assignments. Don’t be afraid to turn to them to create a virtual study group. Chances are good that they will appreciate it just as much as you will.

Learning Resources and Schedule

List of 6 items.

  • Daily Schedule

    Suggested Daily Schedule: 
    This schedule is meant to be aspirational not prescriptive.  Please use common sense and do what is best for you and your sons.  
    Monday - Friday (take lunch during one of your free periods)
    8:00 am: Wake up and clean room 
    8:30 am: Breakfast 
    9:00 am: Office hours/Assemblies/Consultations 
    10:00 am: A period 
    10:30 am: B period 
    11:00 am: C period 
    11:30 am: D period 
    12:00 pm: E period 
    12:30 pm: F period 
    1:00 pm: G period 
    1:30 pm: H period 
    2:00 pm: Consultation 
    3:00 pm: School End 
    3:30 pm: Afternoon activity or meditation (resources linked
    6:00 pm: Dinner  (consider family style if possible on M/W/Thu)
    7:00 pm: Live Stream Chapel (Monday)
    8:00 pm: Study Hall 
    10:00 pm: Study Hall Ends 
    11:00 pm: Lights Out 
    To do lists are a huge part of being successful in online classes: 
  • Student Expectations

    1. Attend class whenever possible. 
    2. Set up a clean workspace for yourself that has minimal distractions. 
    3. This is school. Come to class dressed (collared shirt) and ready to participate. 
    4. Check email and canvas multiple times every day. 
    5. Advocate for yourself by setting up consultations etc… 
    6. Abide by the honor code.
    7. Ask, when you have questions. 
  • Who do I ask if I need help?

    Support Resources: 

    Academic Dean: Paul Huber 
    Contact Paul if you feel like your son is falling behind academically. 
    3rd and 4th Form Class Dean: Ryan Alexander
    Ryan is a great resource for issues directly relating to your 3rd or 4th form son. 
    5th and 6th Form Class Dean: Greg Guldin
    Greg is a great resource for issues directly relating to your 5th or 6th form son. 
    School Counselor: Dr. Christal Boesen 
    If you have an existing relationship with Dr. Boesen or Dr. Strauss they will be reaching out soon.  If not and you need someone to talk to, please email them about their availability for social-emotional counseling.  
    School Nurse: Tammy Firman 
    Reach out to Tammy for any physical health-related issues and or advice.
    Technology Support: Aiden Burke or Jason Arnatt 
    The IT department is willing and able to help you and your family navigate any tech issues or needs that may arise in the coming weeks. 
    Academic Support Services: Ms. Dykeman-Bermingham and Ms Brister 
    Ms. D-B has a ton of great resources and tips that you may find helpful.  Here is her guide to online success.  
    School Chaplain: The Rev. Tyler Montgomery - cell phone: (828) 707-3218
    William H. White, Jr. Library: You/your son will find the full William H. White, Jr. Library Remote Access Resources site linked through Canvas (see the menu bar within each class and click the "Library" link) which will lead to a wide array of services and resources to support learning while off-campus.  An abbreviated list of links for remote services is also available through the Remote Learning @ WFS research guide (because of vendor licensing very few of our remote access resources can be linked on this external page as it is not protected by login credentials).  
  • Zoom: Best Practices in a Meeting

    Zoom Address Book of Woodberry Faculty
    Students, here you will find the zoom addresses for each of your teachers. You must be logged on to to access. 
    >Parents can access Zoom Address Book on Parents Portal

    Zoom: Best Practices in a Meeting (One-Page Guide) 
    This guide from the University of Minnesota provides a ton of great tips.  
    This guide will help your guests and you get the most out of your Zoom meeting experience. Learn more about Zoom meetings

    Prepare for the meeting
    1. Set up your equipment
    • Download the Zoom desktop or phone app and encourage guests to do the same
    • Decide whether you will use one monitor or two
    • Get a headset and microphone if you have them, to reduce background noise
    • Test your audio and video
    • Review how to share your screen 
    • Close unnecessary tabs in your browser
    2. Look your best
    • Lighting should come from in front of you or from the side, in order to best light your face
    • Keep your background clear of distractions
    • Look at your webcam, not at the screen
    • Use gestures and mannerisms that you would typically use in person
    Participate productively
    1. Make sure everyone can hear you
    • Use a microphone when you speak.
    • Make sure the microphone is on and close enough to pick up your voice, no matter what location you are in.
    2. Help everyone focus
    • Don't have side conversations.
    • If you aren't talking, mute or turn off your microphone.
    • Avoid noisy activities like typing while your microphone is on.
  • Online Learning Terms

    The boy can do asynchronous work on his own schedule during a time that makes sense for him and his family or, preferably, during the scheduled class time. Teachers will always be available during their class time block.  
    Synchronous: During this time a student will be in a virtual class with his instructor and fellow students. This is a chance to engage with the entire class through Zoom or another online platform. Joining Zoom live and with video, is preferable, however, not required. 
    Zoom: An online video conferencing platform that you can sign into through your WFS Gmail account 
    Office Hours: This is a time where faculty will have their zoom rooms open and parents and students can drop in for a quick question or concern. 
    Consultation: This is a time for students to get one on one or small group help from their teachers.  
    Homework: Student can expect to have between 30 - 45 minutes of homework per class per night 
    Attendance: Given time zones and technology access we are not requiring attendance, however, attendance is strongly encouraged whenever possible. 
    Class Time: Although you will not be meeting live (synchronistic) with your teacher or classmates you need to do your work for the class during the allotted time. Your teacher will always be available for you to ask questions or drop in on them during your scheduled class period. Please use this time. 
    Gmail: The email service that we use at Woodberry 
  • Online Academic and Athletic Resources

    Canvas (online learning management system). Teachers already post assignments here and will utilize functions such as online discussion boards in the coming weeks.
Woodberry Forest admits students of any race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and national or ethnic origin to all of the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, or national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs. The school is authorized under federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.