The Paideia School

Virtual Schooling at Paideia

Paideia first moved to virtual in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. As you can imagine, initially it was a work in progress. Our teachers spent the spring and summer retuning and refining their curricula to meet the academic needs of all of our students by the time school opened for the 2020-2021 school year.  In these challenging times, our teachers continue to work every day to keep students who have continued with our virtual schooling option, connected to the academic and social-emotional work that takes place on campus.

Paul Bianchi speaking at a podium

We are all adapting, not from choice, but we can choose how to make sense of these adaptations. We can frame them as a test of our capacity for resiliency. Everyone lauds resiliency; now we get to practice it. We can also come away with some insights into the relative importance of what we have typically taken for granted, as well as expand our capacity for empathy for the many people in our society whose lives are regularly pockmarked with ongoing vulnerability. Also how we respond and how we narrate our responses will be seen and heard by our children. 

We are fortunate to be part of a strong and caring community. Let's rely on that strength and compassion, both to support us at Paideia and others not at the school. 

Paul Bianchi, Head of School
March 2020




Below you can find sample weekly schedules, video course work, and resources organized by level of the school.



Each weekday the AM half-day (ages 3-5) class has scheduled meetings include using the Zoom video app to interview the “kid of the week,” where class members “interview” their classmate.

Both classes are able to view stories read by their teachers and have math and reading sources available to parents through their websites.

Suzanne reads a book about a cat named Sid who manages to get fed six times a day.


The PM half-day's central subject of bees is kept alive with read alouds and videos relating to bees. A visit from a beekeeper to their teacher's house to remove a swarm of bees located in her tree can be viewed by the class.



“Toto, I have a feeling that we aren’t in Kansas anymore….”

Our elementary students experience their school days as being part of intimate communities that are created and nurtured by classroom teachers. Specialists build individual relationships with their students while collaborating with teachers on curriculum.  

Teachers and specialists have embraced distance learning as a challenge. Teachers create compelling video lessons that help students absorb new material.  Teachers conduct whole group meetings and small group lessons.  Teachers use a variety of platforms for personal connections, allowing students to ask questions, get feedback and maintain their important relationship. The classes offer comforting routines and familiar rituals that help reassure children that their world hasn’t changed entirely. The samples on this page are a snapshot of what virtual learning at Paideia looks like as it evolves.  We miss our students, and we know they miss us. However, we are committed to bringing the best of Paideia into the digital world, learning as we go, staying positive and engaging.

--Mary Lynn Cullen, Elementary Principal

Art teacher Joe Cillo guides students through creating robot collages.
Emily Schreck, grade 3-4 teacher, teaches fractions through cooking muffins.
Brian has embraced  teaching daily math lessons  to his fourth and fifth grade class with wit and verve.
In a poetry lesson, Isabelle reads two poems and discusses how the poets use imagery to describe their feelings.


Brian and Lina's elementary class celebrates May Day as part of its study of medieval times, performing songs and dances that have been around for many centuries. Students learn that May Day is a celebration of the earth awakening in springtime in medieval (and now modern) Europe. This year, the celebration came together virtually via Zoom, orchestrated by elementary music teacher Miranda Dillard.

Support for Parents
Online Parents Meetings offer parents community support and the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues.

Our parent education coordinator, Lisanne Hardin in conjunction with our innovative teaching specialists (iLeap), has created a support and wellbeing website in our Parent Portal. The website offers links to a wealth of resources for mental health and wellness support for elementary and junior high families including articles, books, and online classes in yoga and mindfulness.


Junior high life tends to exist in a world that buzzes and spins and vibrates with energy, and so it was shocking to many of us who feed off that energy to have to walk away.  We left our schoolhouse on a Friday and entered a virtual school on the following Tuesday. The junior high teachers at Paideia accepted the situation and charged ahead with their dependable positivity and vibrancy.  This flip to distance learning has brought on a mountain of work for faculty who did not just take their jobs home and extend themselves virtually but who have literally had to redefine and restructure almost every aspect of what they do.  All the while, they have held to the essence of what makes our community so extraordinary.  

Virtual school in the junior high at Paideia Zooms and Google Meets and Flipgrids during the pandemic.  We have struck a healthy balance between online classes and reaching students through thoughtful work using a variety of platforms.  The thrill of seeing one another over video conferencing is often the highlight of a day, and the new and creative ways teachers have found to extend learning is exciting to watch.  Paideia is known for asking students to dig deep, think, express, question, write, work and build the kind of classrooms that feel safe, inviting and engaging. All of those tenants exist in the virtual world we are creating together.  

We invite you to take a peek inside of our new reality.

--Jennnifer Cox, Junior High Principal

A sample virtual assignment for Jennifer and Wilson’s 7th grade social studies class:
Right now, we are studying World War I in history, and students are each going on two virtual field trips to tour sites and exhibits illustrating the war and its lasting impact. The trips are organized into two themes: "Soldiers in Battle," which examines the actual strategy and fighting of the war and soldiers' experiences within it, and "The World at War," which looks at the conflict's broader cultural & political impacts. Each student has to choose one of three options in each category. Click here to see the assignment.


8th grade writers
The key to becoming a good writer is to write constantly and have one's writing nurtured critically. Even from a distance, Paideia's junior high students are given various types of writing assignments and receive individualized feedback. Below is a sample assignment from Bonnie & Elly's junior high class on six-word memoirs.

What does learning French and Spanish look like virtually?

The World Languages department in the junior high has been virtually teaching French and Spanish for the past six weeks and we wanted to show you a smorgasbord of the sorts of activities students have been engaged in. We are conducting live lessons via the Zoom platform. Using Zoom, we are able to incorporate multiple activities during a lesson, encompassing all of the primary communication skills, not unlike the classroom experience prior to virtual learning. For example, putting students into ‘breakout rooms’ allows them to practice their interactive speaking in pairs or small groups, and to collaborate with their peers on reading and writing assignments. All the while, we have tried to make their learning relevant to the current situation. Fortunately, learning a language lends itself to creativity, and the students have really enjoyed showing how innovative they can be. Here are samples of what students have been doing.

Learning Spanish through stories with Mark and Olivia

Here is a screenshot of one of Mark’s gimkit assignments in the seventh grade class. Students are then expected to create their own stories as a final project.

Mark and Olivia have used the TPRS method (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) which stresses high-frequency language structures most often used in authentic communication. Seventh grade Spanish classes are reading Brandon Brown quiere un perro and Mark’s 8th grade Spanish classes have been reading Esperanza. For review and reinforcement, Olivia and Mark have been playing gimkit live quiz games with the students (and losing). The students are able to compete with one another, manipulate language, and test their comprehension and vocabulary knowledge while also winning virtual money.

Receta para una ensalada

Students in Olivia’s seventh grade class created salads and then filmed themselves making them. They had the option to speak or write the instructions.

Arty projects in Spanish by Dave

Dave set his class the task of coming up with and finding three artsy objects that mattered to them (objetos and which they had to describe and say what they were made of).

Dave also set his students to studying various heraldic signs from Spain and then asked his students to create their own for his class.  Here is what they came up with.  

"Frigo" MovieTalk by Laura 
I have taken a stab at adapting one of my favorite classroom techniques, "MovieTalk", to the virtual format with an EdPuzzle, a Quizlet set, a Gimkit and a Textivate sequence. Through a short movie about a spider and a fly, my eighth graders are acquiring the French expressions for "flies away," "tries to," and "inside" while reviewing previously learned high-frequency phrases such as "wants," "to catch," "looks for," and "waits."

Students first watched a short video with built-in questions in French. Like the questions I ask in person during a MovieTalk, these are meant to slow down the flow of language input and give students a chance to process meaning.

Next, students were asked to review the story with fill-in-the-blank flashcards on Quizlet. When we came together for our virtual lesson, students competed in a Gimkit on the story. They love the competitive aspect of this platform and the ability to purchase power-ups with virtual cash. As a teacher, I like that I can create a variety of different types of questions (multiple choice or text entry, reading or listening) and see a report on each student's performance after the game.

Finally, in the Textivate sequence, students manipulated the text of the story in multiple activities that solidified their acquisition of vocabulary and syntax.

We will close out the unit with a free write. Students will have to write for 15 minutes without stopping and include two or three target structures which I will specify (for example, "flies away" and "tries to"). Their goal is to write as many words as possible and to convey a coherent story (even if it is silly or illogical). Testing how many meaningful French words students can put down in a given amount of time provides insight into how much language is actually available to them for immediate retrieval while communicating.

Gabrielle Gonzales, a seventh grader, gives her impression of virtual schooling at Paideia.

Support for Students
Our learning specialist, Danielle Moore, has created a virtual website and continues to meet with students and faculty regularly.

Our junior high school counselor, Che Calix, has reached out to all junior high students individually. If students need to talk, they (or their parents) can email him to set up an appointment. Many students have already connected with his virtual classroom.

Support for Parents
Online Parents Meetings offer parents community support and the opportunity to discuss a variety of issues.

Our parent education coordinator has created a support and wellbeing website in our Parent Portal. The website offers links to a wealth of resources for mental health and wellness support for elementary and junior high families including articles, books, and online classes in yoga and mindfulness.


What is our hallmark? Inspired by the best learning experiences of our own school days:  a memorable teacher.  Individually and collectively, our faculty stand out as the distinguishing feature of our high school.  Their entrepreneurial spirit for curricular development, coupled with instructional expertise and a keen understanding of teens, drives a curated experience for each student.

Our willful, talented faculty adapted quickly to a virtual platform, rebuilding courses and community connection with the inviting classrooms and intellectual rigor for which Paideia is known.  We leaned hard on our collaborative wisdom and cooperative skill sets through innovative teaching methods and personal outreach to students and parents.  

In its virtual form, Paideia high school is a bridge to generative thinking and learning in each student’s home through daily contact and routines with teachers and with their classmates.  Our faculty guide students, in peer groups and 1:1, in using their homes and yards for science experiments, practicing authentic modern languages through multiple platforms, and engaging with texts to continue the serious enterprise of school.  We invite you to explore how distance learning at Paideia delivers a comprehensive, passionate, academic community online.

--Brett Hardin, High School Principal

Junior Sophia Figueroa gives a glimpse into a day-in-the-life of a high school student during virtual learning classes at Paideia.

Our high school virtual schedule is a modified block schedule with three-time slots for each class (two longer classes, Monday  - Thursday,  and one shorter class on Fridays). All classes have two live sessions per week via Google Hangout, Zoom, GoTo Meeting, etc.

American History
Twice a week, there are two block classes, which entail students viewing a 30- to 45-minute video presentation  by social studies teacher Barrington Edwards, which is viewed in Google Classroom before a live 30-minute Zoom discussion on those block days. Fridays are typically reserved for independent review or individualized or group debate and Q and A. Alternatively, the class may use a block day purely for discussion and use a Friday  class for a shorter presentation. Students are able to pace their homework reading between class meetings. The reading is oftentimes accompanied with focus questions to aid with reading comprehension and analysis. 


Modern Languages
In the modern language department, our goal during virtual schooling is to maintain community to the best of our ability and have students engage with the language and interact with each other in authentic, fun and interesting ways. We also want to maintain and build their cultural consciousness, grammatical knowledge and proficiency skills. We strive to expose students to reading, listening, speaking and writing through a variety of mediums to keep it fresh. Lessons are conducted live (and in the target language) via Zoom, but also asynchronously via Screencasting or Quicktime videos, so students can learn at their own pace and repeat the material as needed. Supplementary materials and activities come from a variety of sources: our online text and workbooks, native speakers on YouTube, stories and music on Señ, grammar lessons on EdPuzzle, authentic music videos, and interactive videos on Flipgrid, to name a few.  We also use Zoom Breakout groups to have students speak live in French/Spanish in a smaller setting to encourage participation. Click here to see sample lessons.

Non-Academic/ Virtual Community-Building
We are committed to maintaining the vibrancy and connectedness of our high school community. Some of the community building activities we have had and have are: weekly high school assembly meeting via webinar; a 9th grade NetFlix party over spring break; community workouts with strength and conditioning coach; service learning activities offered by our director of service learning; writing for the high school lit mag, - COVID Nine Zine, and school newspaper, The Forum; meetings for high school clubs including community service club and Amnesty International; and high school-wide games and contests.

Support for Students
Our learning specialists, Tricia Underwood and Morgan Potts have created a virtual website and continue to meet with students and faculty regularly. Additionally, they have designed a structure for virtual study halls that students can sign up and join.

Our high school counselors, Kristi Budd and Thrower Starr are available to all high school students.  If students need to talk, they can email either of them to set up an appointment. Both counselors have virtual classrooms that many students have already connected with.  

Support for Parents
We continue to hold regular parent Zoom meetings for parents of high school students. These meetings begin with a general introduction and then break into smaller discussion groups by grade level. Ideas and resources are shared and emailed to our current families.

ile@p educators