Planning Ahead to Ensure Continuity of Learning
Tis’ the season to be prepared. Once again, school districts across the country are determining best practices and guidelines to ensure continuity of learning in their schools in order to prepare for extended student absences due to many different circumstances. These “bad guys” trying to keep learners from their classrooms include viruses, inclement weather and other emergency situations. The United States Department of Education has published multiple recommendations for the Continuity Planning Teams at schools and districts to consider. The DOE suggests a variety of options to provide students at home with class materials, advocates digital and technology-based resources to help close the gap and reminds schools to keep all student contact information up to date.
A Plan for Sustained Learning
At the heart of a continuity of learning plan is the delivery of instruction and instructional content to students. While some content may be distributed as traditional print materials, many digital tools make that content available anytime and anywhere when you are online. Putting instructional content online allows it to be easily updated and accessible to many students.
Think about these questions as you consider your plan for continuity of learning:
- What content can be given to students in hard-copy? How will hard-copies be delivered (pick-up location)?
- What content can be given to students in digital form (CDs, DVDs, flash drives)? How will digital copies be delivered (pick-up location)?
- What content is available online to provide to students at home anytime and anywhere?
- Do you have an online repository of all district curriculum offerings?
- How is digital content/curriculum created or selected?
- How is digital content managed, housed, updated, and delivered?
- Do you have emergency lessons prepared for students for short-term absences? How will students receive the lessons?
- What happens if a student is absent during mandatory testing periods?
- What tools will be needed to deliver instruction in the short term? Long term?
- Should online curriculum mirror what is being taught in the face-to-face classroom?
- Should educational activities be sustained for all courses or limited to core courses?
- Are any of your textbooks available online or in digital format?
- Are teachers aware of what their team members are teaching in the event that they must temporarily take over a class?
- How will you deliver instruction to a student who is quarantined?
- How will teachers deliver and collect student work?
- How will you decide what lessons to make available for an immediate continuity need since you will not know where you are in your teaching plans if a disaster strikes?
Going Digital for Those Going Home
Many K-12 districts are leveraging digital resources like those provided by Knovation through netTrekker and icurio, to facilitate at-home instruction. netTrekker provides students and educators with over 360,000 educator-reviewed and state standards-aligned digital resources. icurio takes digital learning one step further by offering both resources and ways for educators to create digital learning opportunities and easily assign and deliver those to students, for anytime, anywhere access.
History teacher JoAnne McClelland adds, “We have been told by our administrators if our school were to close because of an epidemic, that we are still responsible for educating all students during that closure. Most teachers panicked when they heard this. I didn’t. I feel confident that I would be able to produce effective online lessons for my students with Knovation content. I can develop a lesson in a short time, and once the lessons are created, it is very easy to alter them and reassign them to different students.”
Screen Time Versus Seat Time
Thinking about what instruction you can cover without having students in the classroom is a real shift for many teachers, and having access to digital content and the technology tools to build and deliver lessons to students who will be out of school for a period of time or even one day is a huge help. Whether you are offering instruction to span closings due to weather or creating strong learning connections for students who are home-bound, there are endless possibilities to extend educator reach outside of the school walls and overcome the unplanned breaks in the instructional calendar.