By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester Local Schools’ educators tapped into multiple resources to guide their students through distance learning during the March to May school coronavirus shutdown.
During the May 18 Canal Winchester Board of Education meeting, Indian Trail Elementary School Principal Eric Riddle touched on highlights of his staff’s response in holding classes remotely through programs like Class Dojo and weekly mindfulness messages from school counselor Beth Hinshaw.
“We were able to accommodate our families with this new reality we’re in,” said Riddle.
Class Dojo, in school-wide use since 2017, is a free, web-based communications tool that teachers and administrators use to share educational materials with students and celebrate their accomplishments.
Distance learning weekly lesson plans from reading, math and English/Language Arts instructors outline upcoming work and also include a message from Riddle and a Mindfulness Message from Hinshaw urging students to fill out a feelings check-in and follow along with a Shake and Relax mindful moment video before starting their work.
Student feelings such as Ready to Learn, Nervous, Angry, Worried, Excited, Sad, Tired or Confused were tracked using Google Forms and trends by classroom, grade or time period were shared with teachers.
A single day tracking of responses indicated 20 students felt ready to learn, two were nervous, three felt angry, one was worried, nine were excited, three felt sad, more than a dozen were tired and five felt confused.
“It was a way to meet the needs of our students,” said Riddle. “It’s a social/emotional piece since we cannot meet in a brick and mortar setting.”
A survey was conducted via Google Forms to collect information about students who have/do not have access to technology. Those who did not respond to the survey were contacted by phone if they were not responding to normal online communications like Class Dojo.
“When this took place, we had to learn how to accommodate students without access to technology,” said Riddle.
Survey and phone call results indicated that half of all respondents had older siblings who have devices, but 25 percent of ITES students did not have access to their own technology (they have to use a sibling’s Chromebook) or did not have internet in their home or both.
Two Chromebook distributions were held for students who have no technology at home—76 devices were distributed, and 12 Wi-Fi hotspots distributed to families who could not utilize Spectrum/Charter’s free programs.
In another survey, parents indicated they felt the administration and staff were doing a “great job,” that their response to the current situation was wonderful, teachers needed a raise and parents were thankful for teachers being organized, keeping families informed and their dedication.
When asked what parents wanted, respondents said they desired more teacher/student interaction through Zoom classes and video chats; all homework, grading and necessary information in one place; more/less class work; know more about the future and status of the Washington, D.C. trip and a strong desire to a return to normal.
“We post weekly announcements and it’s an opportunity for Mrs. (Lea) Cobb (assistant principal) and I to reach out to parents and update them,” said Riddle. “We also have translations in 10 languages.”