By: Derrick Hurt, Ed. S. (Library Media Specialist)

Students in grades K-4 engaged in reading-related activities virtually during the summer from June 8, 2020 to July 8, 2020 to further advance literacy and academic performance.

A total of 64 students participated and were offered direct and explicit instructions in the areas of phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, decoding and accuracy, encoding and accuracy, vocabulary and comprehension.

A staff of 11 teachers and 1 administrator worked together to ensure the students were provided the skills and instructions necessary to promote academic success within a virtual environment.

Teachers were able to create a virtual classroom through Google Classroom to assess the progress of each student via virtual face-to-face Google Meetings.

Students were assigned a Gmail account, a chromebook, and a hotspot to participate in the program.

The platform for this virtual learning environment integrated instructions and activities through iRead (which promotes basic foundational skills), Edgenuity (which promotes comprehension skills), and ReadWorks (which promotes vocabulary enrichment and comprehension. Virtual learning could be the new norm as a result of the pandemic.

Even though there was much skepticism towards providing students instructions virtually, each teacher embraced this new norm and created an environment that was conducive to learning.

The Alabama State Department of Education has emphasized that technology should become an integral part of education.

Through such use of modern technology, students as well as teachers were able to learn and acquire 21st century skills necessary for them to become 21st century learners.

Based on the experiences provided to our students at Union Springs Elementary School within this virtual learning environment, a strong foundation for strengthening thinking and learning skills digitally has prepared them to become critical thinkers in a global economy.

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