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LEAD Public Schools

LEAD Teachers See Students Succeed in Virtual Learning Environment

The 2020-2021 school year is the first in the history of LEAD Public Schools in which students and teachers spent the majority of the year in a virtual classroom. As half of LEAD students return to in-person instruction in March and the other half continuing to learn virtually for the remainder of this school year, we are celebrating the successes of our time spent in virtual classrooms.

LEAD continues to see outstanding attendance each day — averaging 92% for our five campuses. We know this commitment from families to be present and ready to learn each day is key in combating learning loss. 

Students demonstrate mastery of grade level skills in the virtual format. Melissa Lockhart, a Math teacher at LEAD Southeast Middle School, attributes her students’ success to engaging lessons. For example, when teaching scatter plots, scope, and the Y-intercept, Ms. Lockhart asked the students to reimagine the dots on the graphs as M&M candies.

“I found that giving them a more exciting visual than dots on a graph made my class more engaging,” Ms. Lockhart said. “ We just took our test and I saw really strong levels of mastery.”

Morgan Brotan’s 6th grade Social Studies class at LEAD Southeast Middle School learned about Ancient Israel. Students had to apply their knowledge from readings and videos to draw the migration patterns of the Israelites. Ms. Brotan also encouraged students to participate by asking them to put themselves in the Isrealites’ position. 

“This type of questioning draws students in, even those who don’t normally participate or want to get involved – especially the question relating to their lives,” Brotan said. “It’s an easy way for them to participate and draw interest. I saw students who tend to write one word or two, starting to write in sentences.” 

Cameron Middle School math teacher Harleigh Jacobson sees her shy students coming out of their shell with the help of virtual platform tools like the chat feature. 

“For them, the chat is not only something that has made them feel more comfortable sharing, but has pushed them to share more often and even verbally,” said Jacobson. “Now, those students are raising their hands, answering questions, and trying out problems that at the beginning of the year they would have just watched others give a go.” 

The students in Savannah Staley’s AP Language class at LEAD Southeast High School discuss the implications and effects of technology and social media, in addition to focussing on synthesizing sources. It’s a lesson made more realistic by the virtual setting.

“Last week, I created a Padlet with about ten different sources for students to analyze and synthesize,” Staley said. “After spending time observing and digging into these sources individually, students worked with small groups to create strong claims that worked to synthesize these sources. The sources included samples of art, political cartoons, graphs, and charts. Students were able to create a variety of phenomenal claims regarding the significance of social media and technology in our world today! Students were engaged and excited to spend time digging into relevant visual texts.”

LEAD also recognizes that in order to educate students academically, the whole child needs support. LEAD Neely’s Bend Culture team -Violet Gau, Megan Bennett, Darrel Powell, James Lewis, and Natasha Buckingham – use a culture classroom for the virtual learning setting. They host friendship groups and activities to nurture the students’ social emotional needs.

This month, about half of LEAD students will return to in-person learning. LEAD is committed to continue the same level of academic rigor to every student. Whether in person or online, LEAD prepares students for college and life.

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