Updated: May 2
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 drastically changed the climate for extracurricular activities. While some thrived under these stressful conditions, others struggled to stay open. Many after-school programs that shifted to a web-based format miss in-class teaching, particularly physical classes such as music, sports, dance and martial arts. Education courses, mostly, had an easier transition. For instance, Quills and Quotes, a children’s writing and public speaking program, immediately converted to online classes; they understood the importance of educational continuity.
Quills and Quotes director, Shauna Jain, shares information about the online transition. “For us, the change was not difficult, for we designed the curriculum to be technology compatible. All of our lectures were on interactive slides that teachers can easily use on video conferencing. Plus, the students were already turning in assignments on Google Classroom, so that format continued. We find Google Classroom invaluable for sharing handouts, video links and sample essays; even better, the students can ask questions on the stream to the teacher and other students. We changed the public speaking goals to reflect the platform. Now, teachers coach students on presentation proficiency for video conferencing instead of a podium – an essential skill for their generation.”
The forward-thinking program prepares students for a successful future. It concentrates on two vital skills, writing and public speaking. Classes focus on developing various types of essay writing: persuasive, argument, compare and contrast, cause and effect, research, narrative, descriptive and literary analysis. Students also hone presentation skills through debate, slide-driven lectures, impromptu speeches and mock interviews.
Quills and Quotes was ready for online learning, and though a pandemic wasn’t part of their “disaster plan,” they prepared for school closures from strikes, extreme weather or surprise events. The administrators knew that a prolonged interruption of the curriculum would sacrifice their education goals, so they wanted a “Plan B.” Fortunately, the online classes have been a hit with students and parents. “We are so happy with the execution and results from our online classes that we added online options to our fall programs,” Mrs. Jain announced. “The content is the same, but the style of delivery differs from the in-class experience, and the public speaking focuses on video-style presentations.”
Mrs. Jain is also pleased that they can accommodate students who live far from the primary location. “Our home base is in Mississauga, which allows us to service Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, and Etobicoke, but we’ve had many requests for a second location in Toronto, Brampton, Milton, Vaughan and Richmond Hill. Online classes will allow us to fulfill this need.”