When it comes to distance learning, we’re all learning - teachers, students and parents.
Salt Point Center teachers need to be extra creative now because they already work hard to differentiate and support all disability classifications throughout the year, said Principal Melissa Murphy
SPC teachers Christine Ciccone and Jennifer Florio are just two of the many Dutchess BOCES staff coming up with new ways to help their students continue learning while at home away from the center-based programs they are used to in school.
Ciccone, who teaches grades 3-4, had already been using ClassDojo to communicate with parents so she started sending assignments home via the app. She had students go outside and find different things and send her photos or videos of what they found. Then, she found a platform that allowed her to send videos with the assignments.
Now, she is moving into one-on-one meetings with her students.
“We meet for 30 minutes via Google Meet to work on assignments or do read alouds,” she said. This happens Monday through Thursday. Fridays the group meets as a group with a counselor to do circle time for restorative justice. “We just did one and talked about gratitude for all the essential workers and what it means. We discovered many of the students had essential workers in their family so we made rainbow signs to support them.”
Many of Florio’s kindergarten and first grade students have limited verbal communication. She has had to adapt to create work that is more visual and engaging to help her parents help their children to learn. She found Boom Cards, an interactive learning experience that uses virtual decks of cards for lessons.
“There are a variety of activities online - math, science, ELA, social studies, everything,” she said.
Students can see the questions, hear a recorded lesson and using a mouse or touchscreen, provide an answer. “It’s more engaging for them rather than doing a worksheet,” Florio said.
Florio also sent her students on a home scavenger hunt looking for colors. She and her five-year-old son recorded a video of him going around the house looking for certain colors to show them an example.
Several students, including one she thought may have difficulty, turned the assignment in. “He did it - he completely followed my guide,” she said excitedly.
Both teachers made use of BOCES training for Google Classroom and other online tools to help boost their understanding of what’s available.
“All of these online activities are useful in one-on-one instruction and in the way they collect more data we can see their independence level and I’ll be able to use all of this.”
Ciccone agrees. She found that her students engaged more with the online lessons than the books that
were sent home. “It gave me a wider understanding of what’s out there and available. Now I see a much bigger pool I can draw from and that is wonderful,” Ciccone said, adding that she also plans to incorporate Google Classroom into her physical classroom when traditional school resumes.
“SPC teachers are remarkable in their ability to problem-solve, maintain flexibility and continue to foster relationships with their families and students during this time,” said Muphy. “I am very proud to lead such a talented and caring group professionals under these difficult circumstances.”