April 23, 2020

6 Lessons in Keeping Reading, Math, and Social Interaction Intact During COVID-19 School Closures

virtual-reading-instructionTeachers, parents, and students have all stepped up to adapt to virtual instruction during COVID-19 school closures. Its been truly inspiring to see everyone working together to create new and innovative solutions for distance learning. Here’s what one of our customers, Jennifer Beach, from Logan City School District in Utah, has learned about making virtual instruction effective during this time.

Stay in touch

I teach kindergarten, and we have a non-mandatory Zoom meeting every morning at 10:00. The kids love seeing and talking with each other, sharing their toys, and things they are doing with me. I even had a student read us a book that he has been practicing this week! It was awesome! During our meeting, I read a book to them, and we do a Jack Hartman math activity together where we can move (found on Youtube - counting to 100 activities). That social interaction, as well as the opportunity to move, are both so important! My nephew lives in Amsterdam, and his child's kindergarten teacher does yoga online with them. I love that!

Share needed passwords and links in one place

I have given parents links and passwords to everything they need all in one email, as well as on Canvas, so all they have to do is click and put in a password in order to log into things. One of the things they are doing is the Reading Horizons Discovery® online software. I had never used it before COVID-19, but I have come to love it! I had four different learning groups that were all on different levels with their Reading Horizons instruction before this started, and I love that I can assign them specific lessons and check-ups right where we left off! I love being able to get online every day to see where they are and how they are doing, and they seem to love it as well.

Provide feedback

I try to give feedback to students (through our Zoom meeting, parent texts/emails or phone calls) about how well they are doing, how appreciative I am that they are getting on and doing their work.

Reward hard work

In class, we always had "Marvelous Monday", where we celebrated all of the children for the different things they had accomplished the previous week. Now I send coupons in the mail to those students that show extra progress or outstanding work the previous week. As a special treat for Easter, I delivered some filled Easter eggs to my students.

Check-in with parents

I text/call parents often to see how they are doing and if there is anything I can do to help. I have had several individual Zoom meetings with parents so I could walk them through the login process. Keeping in close contact with parents helps me to know what they are struggling with, why their child may not have gotten online for the last several days, and how I can help. Continuing to build and strengthen the parent/teacher relationship through this time continues to be so important. This is not easy for many of them, and they need to know that they are not alone in this process.

I find that it is VERY important to let parents know that they are doing a great job, that their efforts are appreciated, and that school is NOT their top priority—especially when they are dealing with so many other things. I think we ALL need to know that we are in this together, that teachers are here to help in any way that we can, and that their kids are loved and will be ok.

Borrow ideas from other teachers and communities

I have loved seeing teachers post videos of themselves reading books online, doing online recess, having parades through the school neighborhood (we are going to do this soon!), and so many other things to let their students know they care and that they are still here for them. I am so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful community of colleagues that do everything they can to make sure every child succeeds—even long distance! Teachers are awesome!

Read more teacher tips for virtual instruction

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