Lower School Adapts Back to School Reading and Math Instruction

Returning to school after being in distance learning in the spring has been an adjustment for students and families nationwide this fall. One big question for many parents of elementary aged children has been what, if any, “gaps” in learning may have occurred due to remote learning for the final months of last school year.
“We know that some students have the typical ‘summer slide’ each year and we plan the start to our school year accordingly in math and reading,” said Jason Erb, lower school principal. “However, this year is different. We know our teachers and students worked hard during distance learning in the spring. But, since that is a model of instruction that was new to students and teachers, we wanted to make sure our students retained the concepts needed from the spring to be successful this fall.”

To determine what, if any, skills needed to be reinforced from the previous year, Reading Resource Teacher Brittney Caudell and Math Resource Teacher Liz Smith pivoted their back to school plans for students.

“We always assess students’ reading at the start of each school year,” reported Caudell. “The difference this year is that we knew that there were phonics and reading skills covered in the spring that are important building blocks to their growth as readers. I wanted to make sure students were prepared to use that foundation from the spring.”

Caudell assessed every student in the lower school in the first few weeks of the school year to not only determine reading level like she would in a typical school year, but also to evaluate students for the specific phonics and reading concepts covered in the spring.

“I was actually quite pleased with what I found. We knew our students were working hard at home, and they did a great job retaining a lot of what we covered in the spring,” she said. “Any places where I found a few gaps, I’ve been able to work with those students individually or in small groups to help solidify those skills so that students can now use those as they move into their current grade level.”

The approach with math was similar. Smith worked to assess each student in grades first through fourth to determine how much math content they mastered during distance learning in the spring.

“Our summer math workbooks certainly help a lot,” said Smith. “But, by assessing every student at the beginning of the year, we can get a better idea of any places where we need to firm up the math foundation from the previous school year. I’ve been able to pull small groups of students to reinforce skills as needed from last spring.”

Returning to campus after five months of not being in the classroom, Mrs. Caudell and Mrs. Smith have played an important part of helping students successfully and seamlessly return to school for the 2020-2021 school year.