Standards, Testing, and Pandemic Learning

Children and teachers across the country have been dealing with disrupted learning routines for the better part of year. Is it fair to judge their performance by the same standards and assessments we’ve used in the past? Tim Shanahan explores the issue in a recent blog post.

How do you think schools should approach standards and testing in the coming years? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stockvault/Geoffrey Whiteway

Remote Learning Resources for Parents

Remote learning may be here to stay, at least for a while, according to a recent article in The New York Times. That’s not good news for the many working parents who are burned-out from guiding their children’s education at home. But educational publishers could help parents make the most of their children’s at-home learning.

Many publishers already offer family letters or home-school connection features to keep parents informed. But what about expanding these features to address the remote-learning issues parents are facing? Here are some ideas.

Explain What is Taught and Why

The problem: Unlike teachers, most parents aren’t used to interpreting educational standards or curriculum. They might look over an assignment and wonder why their child has to solve a problem a certain way or write about a specific topic.

The solution: Create parent resources that explain how a lesson or assignment fits into the big picture of grade-level skills and content. Parents can better help their child if they know where their child’s learning is headed.

Help Parents Prioritize

The problem: Although schools may not like to admit it, remote learning often has practical time constraints. If parents have only one free hour a day to help their child with assignments, what should they focus on?

The solution: Parent resources could highlight the most important takeaways from the lesson, unit, or assignment. Publishers could also provide a few different options for activities with varying time commitments. This flexibility would allow parents to reinforce key skills in whatever time they have available.

Provide Quick Refreshers

The problem: Without steady access to their teachers during the school day, who do students turn to when they have questions? Their parents! Unfortunately, parents might be a little rusty when it comes to multiplying fractions or identifying adverbs.

The solution: Parent resources could include quick refreshers on skills and content to jog parents’ memories from long-ago school days. Publishers should also provide helpful links parents can turn to when they are stumped by their child’s work.

This pandemic has shown that teachers are irreplaceable, and everyone is eager for students to get back into the classroom once it is safe. Until then, many families will continue playing a role in their children’s day-to-day schooling. That means educational publishers must be doing all they can to support students, teachers, and parents.

Pandemic Pedagogy

The abrupt shift to online teaching caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged teachers as they educate students remotely. It’s a time of “pandemic pedagogy,” notes educational technology professor Natalie B. Milman.

Teachers across the nation are finding creative ways to use both digital and analog materials as they move online. Publishers must take a cue from these innovative educators by providing new methods of supporting students remotely.

Check out these engaging ideas for K5:

  • Games, puzzles and fun quizzes, which prove useful in motivating students as well as teaching them
  • Online reading logs, which help children keep track of material that they have read or listened to and write about it
  • High-interest reading passages that inspire opportunities for interesting conversations
  • Short, bite-sized passages, photo galleries, and videos instead of long presentations
  • Platforms and software for small-group use so that children can work together online
  • Digital and print resources that allow for commenting so that children can read and comment on other students’ work
  • Art projects, experiments, and other activities that students can easily do at home
  • Assignments combining creativity and online tools that enable students to create podcasts, slide shows, graphs, and the like
  • Printable workbook pages and instructions for activities that can be sent to students by mail
  • Graphic organizers and other self-assessment materials to aid students in tracking their own progress

We’d love to hear from you! What kinds of materials are proving most useful as you craft your own “pandemic pedagogy” experience?

Jump Start Press’s experience in producing engaging, standards-based content inspires our development of educational products for clients. Helping teachers and students celebrate learning remains our goal, whether that learning is remote, in person, or an intriguing blend.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

People have proven this adage to be true again and again in response to COVID-19 needs. Distilleries and perfumeries have retooled to make hand sanitizer. Students have used 3D-printers to create face shields. Individuals and clothing manufacturers have produced facemasks, gowns, and scrubs. Dyson and NASA have designed new ventilators.

Perhaps the most remarkable demonstration of ingenuity is how teachers, students, and parents have transitioned from brick-and-mortar schools to remote learning. The transition has not been—and is not—easy. There are inequities in access to the Internet and personal computing devices. Different homelife situations also present challenges. Some students have adults at home who are available to answer their questions and help them stay on task, while others have limited support.

New Timelines, New Concerns

Now, as we approach two months of stay-at-home measures, most states have decided to keep schools closed for the remainder of the 2019–2020 academic year. New timelines bring new concerns as teachers, administrators, states, and publishers address these questions:

  • How do we transition from remote review and enrichment to remotely teaching new content?
  • Should we provide students with learning opportunities through the summer months?
  • Will schools reopen in the fall? If so, how do schools and buses maintain social distancing to ensure the safety and well being of staff and students?
  • Will schools employ face-to-face learning in tandem with remote learning to reduce in-school occupancy? How will students adapt to this new model of learning?
  • What print content can translate to digital content and vice versa?
  • How can we better support parents or guardians tasked with guiding their children’s at-home education?

Jump Start Press is keeping these questions in mind as we work with our clients to develop educational products for the 2020–2021 school year and beyond. Though circumstances have changed, our focus remains on helping teachers and students make the most of learning—together or apart.

We’d love to hear from you! How are your local school districts planning to transition to in-person learning? What obstacles and opportunities lie ahead?