Distance Learning

If the campus is closed, CDS moves its teaching to a distance-learning platform. Our teachers apply the same level of dedication, passion and creativity to distance learning as they bring to the physical classroom.

CDS Distance Learning Montage

If Campus is Closed, CDS Bears Keep Learning 

The magic of a CDS education starts with an authentic connection between a curious child and a loving teacher. Being physically together is obviously preferred, but the CDS style of learning can move forward in almost any environment. 

With the help of technology and patient parents, our talented teachers deliver creative, differentiated instruction. Our teachers and leaders prioritize social-emotional development and know it is a foundation for excellent academics. We work together to find silver linings while developing resiliency, independence, and innovation.

CDS Distance Learning Mirrors our “Normal” School Philosophy

Just like when campus is open, CDS educators prioritize the following:

  • We lead with love, not worksheets.
  • We know that one size (still) does not fit all learners.
  • We schedule one-on-one time with individual kids to help them learn and grow.
  • We are realistic with each other and we offer grace.
  • We continuously learn and model how to adapt together.
  • We take time each day to connect students with their classmates.

We Maintain Community Spirit

  • Students and teachers connect in real-time for play.
  • We continue spirit days and share photos.
  • Leaders and teachers connect with groups of parents.
  • Teachers lead morning meetings with their class as a way to check-in, introduce activities for the day, answer any questions and connect as a class.
  • Teachers break into small groups to differentiate the material and provide a space to conference and provide feedback to students.
  • Teachers offer office hours throughout the week, providing an open space to ask questions and clarify understanding.
  • Teams meet weekly as a way to plan together, be adaptive to changing needs and be responsive to feedback.
  • Head of School hosts a weekly Whole School Morning Meeting on Zoom where all ages are invited to play a game, exercise and connect with one another.
  • Eighth graders connect with Kindergarteners during weekly “Lunch Bunch Buddies,” where they get to share important news and play a fun game each week.
  • Third and fourth grade teachers host Zoom Lunch Hours each day to provide a flexible space for children to laugh and share. 

Academic Learning

CDS teachers design lessons that allow for student inquiry and discovery. These lessons are based upon our inquiry-based model that promotes discovery, problem-solving, creativity, and productive feedback. CDS students are familiar with this model and have done an excellent job of embracing it from home (with the support of their parents and caregivers).

Preschool Distance Learning

Our preschool teachers lead with love, and design lessons that promote discovery, self awareness and problem-solving. Because of intentionally limited screen time, involvement from a loving caregiver is necessary. A wide range of virtual experiences are offered including video montages, individual connections and whole group opportunities. Even on screen, pre-schoolers are exposed to a rich academic diet that includes science, literature, a sense of self and community, music, Spanish, PE etc.They will emerge from this experience with a broad sense of schema across the curriculum and a heightened social awareness. 


Our preschool students find joy in seeing the faces of their beloved teachers and class pets on appropriately timed ZOOM visits. Though their screen time is limited, the CONNECTION remains strong. The children enjoy read-alouds from familiar loving voices, sing alongs with Mrs. Kelly, our enchanting music teacher and chats with their favorite Spanish speaking parrot. 


Grizzly Bears swim like fish in the sea as they race through their backyards with Ms. Stacey’s Youtube channel. They are reminded of this special PE time, usually held in our gym that remains meaningful and familiar in their own backyards.


Just like at school, our youngest bears learn through play. Our cubbies experiment with soap bubbles and a whisk in the sink and learn how to mix colors by painting one hand blue, one hand yellow and squashing their hands together to make green!


Panda teacher Townley Cole guides her three and four year olds through the life cycle of a caterpillar, an experience that began in the classroom. Over zoom she excitedly exclaims that the larvae have transitioned into chrysalis’. The children marvel at the transformation. The screen dividing teacher and student becomes virtually invisible.

VIDEO: Watch preschool distance learning

Lower Elementary School Distance Learning

Our youngest students should not engage computer screens in the same way or for the same length of time as an eighth grader will. We obviously keep this in mind and teachers make sure lessons are delivered with age appropriateness of delivery method a priority. The younger the student, the more involvement is necessary from a loving caregiver. This requires flexibility and a mixture of real-time, recorded, and self-paced activities that are balanced with the right balance of a consistent scheduling

We found that many of our families wanted different schedules for their children. In response to this, our Preschool – 2nd grade teams now offer 2 schedules. One is a more flexible, unstructured schedule for the day, and the other is a structured hourly schedule that mirrors a more typical school day. This allows us to differentiate not just because kids but also between partner households.

Our reading specialist meets with her students both 1:1 and in small groups no larger than 4. Using her training in Orton Gillingham, she provides our students with targeted, assessment based explicit instruction to meet their needs. Her lessons are interactive, engaging and use multisensory techniques as much as possible.

As we would do on campus, our K-2 classes offer daily small group math and reading instruction. Working in small groups with the students allows for differentiation, connection with peers and students, as well as quick and immediate feedback.

VIDEO: Watch lower elementary distance learning

Upper Elementary School Distance Learning

Even when learning from home, third and fourth graders maintain the familiar rhythm of their classroom. They experience the day with a gentle start, followed by bursts of creativity and critical thinking, interspersed with movement and laughter. They meet daily for differentiated math and reading instruction, participate in hands-on science experiments, write daily using a variety of formats and continue to explore the world through history.


Sharing projects continues to be a highlight of the CDS experience. Whether it’s a poem inspired by Shakespeare or a project on constellations, third and fourth graders enjoy immediate peer and teacher responses to their efforts.


Small, differentiated math groups provide each student with exactly what they need: instruction is interactive, hands on and interdisciplinary. For example, while studying fractions, students measure the ingredients for “ship biscuits,” which they eat aboard the Discovery on their journey to Jamestown.


Newly minted Shakespeare scholars design and build a model of the Globe theater after performing A Midsummer’s Night Dream via zoom. They use measurement and proportions to minimize the theater and maximize their understanding of engineering principles.


We end each day with deep breaths and down time as we dive deeply into read aloud. Students relax, snuggle in and listen to their teacher read a beloved chapter book. This ritual mimics a typical end to our school day and serves as a reminder that we are all in this together.

VIDEO: Watch upper elementary distance learning

Middle School Distance Learning

Middle School Distance learning offers the same amount of rigor, investment and opportunity that our in class experiences provide. Fifth through eighth graders continue to meet educational benchmarks while striving for excellence and fine tuning their social awareness. New material, across each subject, is delivered in a creative, out of the box way that encourages students to dig deep and connect to their studies using a wide range of skills.


During fifth grade English, students meet in small self selected book groups. They investigate literature that is designed to encourage empathy and offer perspective during this difficult time. Books such as A Long Walk to Water and Inside Out and Back Again challenge children to understand a world of hardship that is bigger than their own. They then meet in small discussion groups and discover that quality literature makes you think, feel and connect to one another in rich and meaningful ways.


Eighth grade historians create presentations on different decades from the early 1900’s through the turn of the century. They then debate the merits and relevance of their specific time period. Students attempt to persuade their classmates that their decade was the most important historically, using verbal arguments, presenting statistics and evaluating the global reaction to the decade.


Middle schoolers tap into their individual scientific interests using the “You pick two” method. They use poetry, song, experiments, videos etc. to explain scientific concepts such as wind energy, ecosystems and biomes.


Students are sent personal letters lauding their individual efforts and achievements.They may find a hand delivered helium balloon in their yard attached to an inspiring quote or perhaps they receive a candy gram from a beloved teacher they dearly miss. No matter what the method, CDS students know with certainty that they are loved.

VIDEO: Watch middle school distance learning