This article originally appeared in an EdWeek Spotlight sponsored by Reading Plus.
This spring, COVID-19 led administrators across the country to close school buildings and support students learning from home. We asked three educators about how they handled this disruption and found creative solutions to keep students motivated and engaged using the online literacy program, Reading Plus.
How did you succeed in keeping students on track with reading progress during remote learning?
Perrone: We looked at what we had at our disposal that would help with reading, the overall environment, and engagement. In the past, we used Reading Plus as an intervention. We considered how we could utilize it with more students during distance learning.
Springs: Our kids were pretty well trained because we were already doing blended learning. Once we were sent home and told to set our standards and expectations for the students, all the tools for Reading Plus made that easy.
Plaisted: We had a class competition with students to see who could level up the most during distance learning. Every week, I would post the students with the most level-ups and do a shout-out to the class.
What were your most difficult challenges?
Perrone: We didn’t expose our regular education teachers to Reading Plus—we only thought about it as an intervention. Now we see the depth of the program and how we can provide value to all our students and teachers. Now every teacher knows how to use Reading Plus and how to get their students up and running.
Springs: Completion. At home they can work at any time, and they were not always as fresh as when they would do [Reading Plus] in the morning at school.
Plaisted: There’s always difficulty in accessibility for students. We have students who don’t have tech at home or have to share with siblings. Some students only have a phone. Trying to reach the parents and the children was another challenge.
How was your experience using Reading Plus during distance learning?
Perrone: Teachers loved it. They felt it was easy to use and helped students. The teachers even requested to use Reading Plus again in the new year.
Springs: One good thing about Reading Plus is that because the program is so solid, it’s easy for teachers to trust. Some of our kids told me that Reading Plus was their favorite program at home. They like to do better every time.
Plaisted: When students realized that Reading Plus was something they could continuously do and would count for them, they jumped on board. Students love to have competition. It showed a large number of returns for me.
How are you planning to incorporate Reading Plus into the upcoming school year?
Perrone: We created plans for all three possibilities this year: all in-school, hybrid, and all remote. Reading Plus is part of all of those plans. The first week of school, we are mandating that all teachers have to use Reading Plus and get ready, in case we have to pivot to remote learning again.
Springs: We love the motivational tools that are available, including certificates of achievement. We plan to make leaderboards and share them with the class, so they still have a sense of community and competition.
Plaisted: The Reading Plus skills worksheets are a great feature I want to explore further to align the work to the standards students may be missing. This will help give students more ownership of their learning process and being able to set their own goals.
To learn more about remote learning with Reading Plus, click here.