District News

River Teachers Get Creative to Connect With Students

Posted on: March 27, 2020
Tags: River elementary
River Teacher

This unprecedented situation is forcing all of us to think outside the box. However, the school closure hasn’t prevented our students from continuing to educate their students. Math teacher Courtney Still and kindergarten teacher Crystal Longwell have gotten creative with technology to keep their students connected. 

Ms. Still is using YouTube to connect with her students and continue their learning outside of school. “When they announced the school closure, they initially told us to prepare three blizzard bags,” Ms. Still said. “My first reaction was….what’s a blizzard bag?”

Ms. Still is a River High graduate, but she lived and taught for the past 10 years in Florida before returning this year to teach 7th and 8th-grade math at River Elementary. “We didn’t have blizzard bags in Florida, so that was an adjustment,” she said.

However, even after creating blizzard bags and packets to last three weeks, Ms. Still knew that her kids would need additional support. “Junior high math can be challenging for kids, let alone parents who have been out of school for years,” she added. “So I knew if I wanted them to advance their learning, they’d need my support.”

Ms. Still created a YouTube channel where she walks her students through their lessons. In one video she will walk the students through a specific lesson and handout. In the next day’s video, she guides them through their homework. 

“When it’s time to do the homework, I ask them to pause the video,” Ms. Still said. “Then when they restart it, we go over the answers so they can check their work.”

Ms. Still said she’s had good participation, with 75 out of 80 total students participating. She also said that she feels it’s important for students to advance their learning during this period, not just review what they’ve already learned. 

“At some point, we’ll return to school,” she added. “And it’s not going to be helpful if students are weeks behind. For example, our 8th graders will be in high school next year. That’s a big jump. I want them to continue learning so they’re prepared whenever we do return to school.”

Ms. Longwell is using Facebook live to keep her students engaged. “For kindergartners, the social aspect is just as important as the educational aspect,” she said. “Facebook live lets them see their teacher and their friends and get that social interaction that is so important for development at this age.”

Ms. Longwell reads stories to their students on Facebook live and tries to incorporate a weekly theme. “This week our theme was pirates,” she said. “So our book today was about someone in the navy who went on an adventure and met pirates. Then after reading time, they get a fun assignment, like going on an adventure of their own in their backyard.”

The class also enjoys fun activities together. “We’ve done scavenger hunts. We’ve gone on virtual class field trips to Disney World and the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo actually has some great programs on Facebook live every afternoon where they highlight a different animal.”

We appreciate Ms. Still, Ms. Longwell, and all our River Elementary teachers who are being creative and working hard to keep their students connected and engaged. Parents, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers with any questions about their learning.