By the time this post is published, my school will have started our 4th week of Distance Learning, and like so many of you I am still adjusting.
I am also faced with the reality that our Academy closed itself to students just 9 days after my brand new Learning Commons was opened. This means that in addition to ensuring that all of my students and their families have access to reading materials, I am also currently tasked with keeping the excitement, momentum and love for our new space up.
My methods are not full-proof and there is, like everything else in life, a learning curve. The ideas and engagement opportunities change often, but I share some of what I have been doing in hopes of inspiring others. I would also love to hear what other people have been doing to stay engaged with your patrons and/or students.
I should also preface this by saying I work at a wonderfully unique institution that has provided Chromebooks and other devices to all of our students to ensure that they have access to Distance Learning and other resources. We are firm believers (like so many other educators), that children do best when they and their families are taken care of in all aspects of their lives. So, in addition to providing materials and school supplies, we are also providing meals and other life resources to our families. This holistic approach is a practice we take on year round, but is just currently amplified.
Now, back to my engagement opportunities.
One of the first things I did, was create an Instagram account(@csa_reads). We have our own school app very similar to Instagram, but only adults have access; meaning I can interact with my students’ families, but not my students. Having an Instagram account allows me to reach them where they are, while still interacting with them in an informal way. Even though it’s not as cool as being able to see my personal account (it isn’t gonna happen guys), the kids are still into it. Over the next few weeks, I am hoping to make my content more engaging, and maybe doing a few contests or giveaways.
I’ve also created Google sites for each of our Distance Learning Pods. You can check out them out here. It is certainly not my best graphic and web design work, but it allows me to provide content to families in one place. All of the content varies by age group, though there are some commons factors on each page.
For example, all of our families have access to the Open eBooks app thanks to First Book.. On each of the Google sites, I have shared a tutorial on how to download the app, as well as eBook recommendations. Each site also has an assortment of activities that can be completed after they finished reading a book, and encourages students to think about the books in a new way. Finally, two of the sites feature Virtual Storytimes. This week I am hoping to begin reading a chapter book to upload for our students in grades 1-3.
Our newest plan for keeping students and families excited around books and the Learning Commons itself is still in the works, but will involve the creation of a Book Mobile! As I mentioned before, we are currently making deliveries to our families, and so we thought including books in this, could be a great thing. My hope is that by the time I post again in May, I will be able to share an update on that.
In the meantime, please check out our Learning Commons Instagram (@csa_reads), and leave some insights below. I’d love to hear what others are doing.
Be well and take care of yourself ALSC♥