Distance Learning

Distance Learning
Posted on 04/01/2020
Lilyana Claybourn, 1st Grade Photo, Submitted by Jessica Chamberlin

Written by Rene Carroll

While public schools are closed and Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is in place, teachers and staff of Stevenson-Carson School District have been working remotely, using emails, phone calls and video conference to stay in touch with each other and their students.

“Teachers and staff are essential and let me tell you that they are all working hard,” said Karen Douglass, SCSD Superintendent. “However, just like the community at large, they have been sent home to work and that simply is not ideal.  But I’m proud of what has already been done in very short order.”

SCSD and other districts around the state are receiving regular bulletins with guidance on priorities from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the state governing body for education.  “In a recent Zoom video meeting of about 20 teacher leaders and administration, we reviewed the bulletin together to identify which Guiding Principles we have nailed, and where we need to focus our attention,” said Douglass. “As always, we are working to keep students at the center of all we are doing.  Our plan for student learning is to build on strengths, interests, and needs.  Our teachers are developing weekly plans and suggesting study schedules at many grade levels.”  The learning they are designing keeps in mind equity and access for all students.

The week of April 6 through April 10th will still be Spring Break for SCSD families and staff.  On Monday, April 13th, remote "distance learning" will continue with teachers again reaching out to their students via e-mail, Remind (texting app), and phone calls to discuss learning tasks and to support students and families in this new routine.

“We are providing a variety of educational and enrichment activities and lessons online,” said Douglass.  “Examples are a Zoom morning video meeting for a kindergarten class, a 6th grade video science lesson with assigned tasks, recorded story times, on-line math instruction, Google Classroom becoming more and more popular, and use of iReady.  We are also mailing out paper-pencil packets to those families who are unable to access technology or the adults in the family have priority for the technology due to their ‘work at home’ order."  The district is still working to create a seamless system for paper packets to return to the teacher for review and feedback to the student.

SCSD is working to determine how many families have online learning capabilities and what barriers exist.  These include exceeding household data plans, parents’ home and using technology for their work, not all district programs work on iPhone or Android and the needed infrastructure does not reach into all of our students' homes.  “We are also providing ‘on the fly’ professional development for these programs, as needed for staff,” Douglass explained.

Andrea Maquis, Stevenson Elementary teacher, has sent her first mailing of curriculum to her first-grade students.  “I did my best to customize the work for each student,” she said.  “I tried to enclose something personal with a note that would be special to the child.  For instance, I sent a book on how to draw animals to a student that I knew would enjoy it.”

Rachel Prince, Carson Elementary 6th grade teacher, said a parent told her that her student loves using Google Classroom.  “She said it felt that it was just enough work,” Prince said. “It helped give some confirmation that we are doing things right.”

 

Kacie Dill who teaches at both the high school and middle school levels, said she connected with more than 50 students in Zoom meetings, over several sessions.  “But not everyone was able to be there,” she pointed out. “I have students who are testing other programs and ways to connect us all to empower every voice.”  Flipgrid, a Micorsoft online product, is one example.  It is free for all educators, learners, and families and her students are giving it a try.

“We will be ready to make any instructional adjustments as they come up, but we are too soon in this process to adjusted much,” said Douglass.  “Once this is off the ground we will be communicating with teachers and families for ways to improve.

“We are in a new era of public education,” she added.  “This is a huge learning curve for students, staff, and parents.  We are working through all of this together, being respectful and thoughtful about what each of us brings to the table.  I’m hopeful that our staff receive some grace and space as they learn how to do this new ‘distance learning.’”