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Amid COVID-19 Closure, Teachers and Students Keep Learning In Motion

Amid COVID-19 Closure, Teachers and Students Keep Learning In Motion

  • Team PGCPS |
  • For Parents |
  • In the News |
  • March 20, 2020

Although schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and students are using innovative technology to stay connected and keep learning in motion!

Cooper Lane Elementary third grade teacher Mary Piccirilli is teaching virtual math lessons using student engagement platform NearPod to help students master fractions. She also uses video conferencing app Zoom to check-in with her class, connect classmates and work on reading skills. 

Laurel High School special education teacher Rian Reed also uses Zoom along with Google Classroom and Blackboard to keep lines of communication open with students and families. She also believes in simply picking up the phone. 

“A 15-minute phone call with a senior and their parents can make the difference to calm their concerns and establish goals to continue academic and social-emotional growth,” said Reed, who also keeps families abreast of other forms of assistance, like offers for free home Internet access and student meal sites. 

“The threat of COVID-19 is not the end of learning, it is only the beginning of a shift to innovation to support students in their academic growth,” she said. “In the words of a parent: ‘This is what our community is all about!’” 

Check out Reed’s anchor.fm podcast “Teaching During the Coronavirus.”

International High School at Langley Park (IHSLP) English teacher Clara Allsup is using video essays to help English-language learners who need extra reading and writing support continue to complete assignments. “I made a video using Screencastify where I went into a student's assignment, explained the directions and showed them how to complete their essay as a video. I then embedded links into their work using Flipgrid for them to access everything easily.”

Also at IHSLP, Foundations of Computer Science instructor George Arnold is using Code.org webcasts to continue teaching and to host daily Q&As for students.

At several schools, principals are leading the way, empowering teachers to stay connected to colleagues and encouraging innovation in maintaining the home and school connection. 

The team at Capitol Heights Elementary uses weekly Zoom staff check-ins to receive guidance and clarification from Principal Nina Lattimore on everything from rules around assigning remote work and grading policy to self-care and a staff wellness plan. During the check-in, teachers share how they’ve been in touch with students and parents using  Google Classroom, FlipGrid, ClassDojo and the school’s Facebook page where they host “Wednesday Workouts” and book readings. On a recent call, the team also discussed reaching out to students who might need some “extra love” by postcard.sothern twitter covid

EXCEL Academy Principal LaTanya Sothern also uses video to check-in with parents, staff and students — sessions which she records to later share with those who miss out in real-time. EXCEL also developed its own website housing grade level student activity calendars and COVID-19 resources for families. 

Chillum Elementary School Principal Dr. Ryan Daniel communicates with parents throughout the week providing them with updates systemically, state and nationally.  Teachers post lessons and discussions on Google Classroom to communicate with intermediate students who have Internet access at home and use Class Dojo to answer parent questions on work assigned.

Tulip Grove Elementary Principal Jaime Coffen and team use multiple standing video meetings to connect and maintain the school’s “culture of learning.” 

“We have been impressed with our school community's desire to share with us via social media outlets. We have encouraged them to share pictures of children working at home. Like many we are new to this so are trying to reach our TIGERS by any means necessary!”

Tulip Grove keeps with routine by beginning each morning with a school-wide morning meeting where they recite the school pledge, do a “jammin minute” with the PE teacher, a mindful moment with the guidance counselor and hear a message from Coffen! Additionally, Coffen’s parent check-ins offer guidance on how to best support students during the closure.

Kenilworth Elementary School fourth grade teacher Bonnie Razler is connecting classmates and keeping them engaged by posing a daily question in Google Classroom, to which she responds to each student personally. She also uses Gimkit, a virtual game show app whereby students answer questions and teachers gain insights on how the class is mastering content. “Right now my focus is on keeping our community strong and spirits up,” Razler said. “It's important that even though we are socially distant, we remain in contact.”

Beacon Heights Elementary Library Media Specialist Rebecca White is keeping storytime alive for the school system’s youngest learners through virtual read alouds for her PreK 2 students. 

“I think in this time of social distancing the students will benefit from seeing friendly faces,” White said. “I wish I had thought about it before leaving the building. I would have grabbed more books.” 

The PGCPS Technology Training Team (T3) has compiled tips for parents and teachers to support remote teaching and learning. For daily tips and resources, follow T3 on Twitter. Teachers should also check out our Remote Teaching Toolkit.