Students noisily filing into school buildings, locker doors slamming, bells ringing; the sounds of a typical school day have gone silent across our nation. While school buildings may be closed, the business of learning has continued for teachers and students in a new format. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down our schools, teachers have had to adapt quickly to the world of online instruction. For many, this is the first experience with online teaching and learning.
Every grade level poses its own challenges, and key skills and concepts need to be developed throughout. However, no skill may be more important than the ability to read. The task of teaching this skill begins in Pre K and Kindergarten. While this task is never easy, the prospect of teaching students to read online initially seemed insurmountable.
What looked like an impossible challenge just weeks ago has become a success story at the Northgate School District. On Tuesday, May 12, the Kindergarten Team from Bellevue and Avalon Elementary Buildings presented their approach for teaching the fundamental skills for reading as part of a professional development series hosted online by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit. Made up of a pre K teacher, five classroom teachers, two special education teachers, and a team of teacher assistants, this group has met daily since the close of the school buildings to plan lessons, produce videos, and discuss how to best meet the needs of each student in a virtual environment.
During the presentation each of the teachers took part in explaining not only what they are doing online, but why this is an important part of developing readers. Through technology tools like Google Classroom, SeeSaw, and Class Dojo, teachers are able to share videos and students can share videos back displaying their learning and receiving positive feedback. As they talked about their approach to delivering a structured literacy program to teachers across the region, what really shined through was the level of teamwork that was necessary to make this happen each week and how grateful the teachers are for parents who are supporting the students’ learning at home.
Two teachers from the Northgate Middle and High Schools are scheduled to present as part of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s series entitled “We Are In This Together.” With so many changes and challenges for education, it’s exciting to see Northgate teachers leading the way and sharing their success with educators across our region.