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Keeping remote learners engaged

More than 450 fully-remote students in elementary school are utilizing various computer programs to further their learning and engage with teachers in real-time through Microsoft Teams.

“We didn’t really know what to expect, especially after last year,” said Shayna Ruckdeschel, whose daughter is a fully-remote kindergartener. “She’s grown more independent as the weeks have gone on. She’s actually thriving.”

For these 22 classes of fully-remote students in grades K-5, learning goes beyond the computer screen. Students are also having the chance to take part in hands-on learning. Monthly, teachers send home bags of learning materials that include manipulatives for math, tools to support literacy, fine motor kits, writing and science journals, supplies for music, art and physical education classes, flash cards and more. Students use these tools to support the lessons they receive virtually.

“It has to be a balance of instructional technology and hands-on learning experiences,” said Early Learning Coordinator Erin Ugine. “By seeing, doing and creating in different ways, these students are deepening their understanding.”

Getting learning materials in the hands of students was no easy task, but the district had some help from community partners at Tops, The Garden Factory and Target, who donated hundreds of bags to help with sorting and distribution. The district also had help from its bus drivers, who delivered learning materials to families unable to pick up. All these tools are helping students to form important connections to their schoolwork and their classmates.

“She has never met her teacher or any of her classmates in person, but she talks about them all the time,” Ruckdeschel said. “I was very concerned about the social development, but she is really getting to know her friends. She often talks about their likes and dislikes and can’t wait to meet them in person. I’m so grateful to the teachers who are working so hard to make these students feel connected.”



student at computer