Megan is the Vice Principal of Operations and STEM at the Academy for International Education Charter School in Miami, Florida.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person. Schools across the country are taking actions to ensure students and employees remain healthy.
In preparation for potential school closures, administrators and teachers should start planning creative ways to reach and educate their students, even if they are not physically at school. Utilizing technology and making lessons, assessments and assignments available online is a logical start to keeping students on track academically.
However, it is important to remember that not all students have access to computers or laptops at home and many might not have WiFi. Administrators should conduct surveys to identify those students who may benefit from renting a school device or qualify for a program that offers reduced WiFi pricing options like Internet Essentials from Comcast.
For schools that use Kickboard, administrators can create temporary behavior buttons which teachers can use to record basic information about the students in their classes. For example, for our school I have set up 4 new internal behaviors to track on Kickboard:
- Has access to a computer/device at home
- Does not have access to a computer/device at home
- Has internet at home
- Does not have internet at home
After teachers recorded the internal behaviors, I used Kickboard Answers analysis table to review the data and identify the students that would need additional support in order to access online content.
Note: Be sure to advise teachers to gather this information in a way that doesn’t embarrass those who do not have devices or WiFi. Teachers at my school had students close their eyes and raise their hands when responding to the information request questions. By using the “select multiple” tool on Kickboard, teachers were able to record information quickly and privately and within 30 minutes I had a list of students who would benefit from renting out a school laptop for our entire school.
Here are other ways that schools can utilize Kickboard’s internal behaviors in preparation for extended breaks from school:
- Create behaviors that can be assigned to students after the completion of an online assignment that would allow for real-time feedback to students.
- When utilizing video conferencing software (Google Hangout, Zoom, Skype) teachers can give points on Kickboard to those students who tuned-in and were actively engaged.
- Through the messaging feature, teachers can communicate directly with parents on Kickboard and share updates.
As always, schools should follow the information provided by their district staff and public health officials as they are continually monitoring this evolving situation. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published best practices as school communities work together to plan, prepare and respond to the most recent Coronavirus updates.
In addition to the ideas above, teachers may be looking for resources to help plan for virtual learning. Social media communities are sharing resources to help support teachers and schools with those plans.
Additional considerations may be surveying students and families who may have concerns around having enough food to eat while schools are closed. Teachers can reach out to their students to check in with them to see if their needs and their families needs are being met during these difficult times and can track their findings as internal behaviors in Kickboard. School Leadership can use this information to come up with ways to support families while school is not in session. Staying up to date on local resources and services being provided will be paramount in ensuring our students, their families and our school staff members stay safe, stay healthy and stay connected with one another as much as possible.