Students and teachers may not be in the physical school building right now, but the teachers are working, and their students are still learning. Flat Rock Elementary first grade teacher Beth Caperton is using her creativity to keep her young students engaged and excited about learning.
“When all of this came about I knew I wanted to keep their learning simple and really focus in on developing their reading fluency,” said Caperton. “We have all seen so much on social media about students learning life skills during this time, and well reading is a life skill.”
Caperton has been following the routine she uses in her classroom. She makes explicit systematic phonics videos for her students to watch. Then she delivers decodable passages to them where they can apply the phonics skill in a text.
When the students are at school, she always reads the passage to them before they read it themselves. She has done the same thing virtually.
The first week of virtual learning, this first grade teacher dressed in various costumes, and her students saw different parts of her house. The second week she read stories all over the Flat Rock community so they could enjoy the beauty of their community. For the third week she read the decodables from different places outside the school.
“If they can’t attend the school,” said Caperton, “then I figured I would bring the school to them.”
In addition to being able to read, Caperton wants her students to gain knowledge about science and social studies.
The students choose a topic each Monday then spend the rest of the week learning and writing about their chosen topic. “This has allowed student choice where they take ownership of their own learning,” she added.
Caperton has one student, Jenn Claire Chisenall, who has taken care of baby chicks. She wrote about how to care for the chicks. Her learning revolved around her baby chicks for that week.
Another student, Madi Grace Rowe, is learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. She is raising and observing caterpillars so her writing and reading is based on this topic.
Anderson Thornhill, another of her students, chose to learn about the Vietnam War. Caperton said that Anderson has always been interested in history. This gave him the opportunity to take charge of his learning as he studied this topic.
“I love receiving their videos and having them read their writing to me on Fridays,” said Caperton. While they have chosen some interesting topics, she adds that her students have also taught her many facts.
This week Caperton is off on another adventure with her students. They will see videos from different places that Caperton took on her weekend trip. This includes the Blue Bell Ice Cream Plant, Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Talladega National Motor Speedway, and Noccalula Falls.
“I hope my students will find these places interesting, and that it will help keep them engaged in their learning this week,” she concluded.