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North Kansas City schools provide 'TLC' to enhance virtual learning

Helping teachers set up online curriculum
virtual curriculum
Posted at 3:00 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 19:30:13-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every classroom needs some TLC, and that's what the North Kansas City School District is trying to provide for its teachers.

The district's teaching and learning coaches are helping its educators build their online curriculum.

"Right now, my job looks a little different than it normally would," said Jess Montague, a teaching and learning coach for third grade math. "But right now, I'm building curriculum in [the online platform] Canvas for teachers to use for their virtual students."

Each grade has two TLCs.

"We're setting up learning experiences just like students would have face-to-face," Montague said. "We're doing that on the computer, or in Canvas."

She records videos of her lessons, trying to make them engaging and warm, just like she is in the classroom.

Then, she lays out the lessons and tasks on Canvas. Students can scroll through the lesson in the same order that their in-person peers are learning them.

For example, a math student will open Canvas and do a math warm-up, just like they'd do in the classroom.

"Then we do a teach, so we teach them a strategy or what they can try out in their work," Montague said. "Then we do a math game, so just to kind of practice the skills we're learning. Then we have a reflective closure."

Montague provides questions and the information students should use to answer them. She also includes specific and brief instructions on how students can submit their assignment so they can focus on the learning experience instead of worrying about the technology."

The district started working on improving its virtual curriculum last spring.

"What we tried to do is make it so simple and explicit that the technology sort of fades in the background and it doesn't get in the way of building conceptual understanding," said Sean Nash, the district's instructional coordinator.

Teachers and parents talked about what worked and what didn't. One aspect of virtual learning that parents didn't like was that the online layout varied for each class. The district's goal was to make it more seamless.

"We're just really confident the experiences kids are going to have this year are going to be powerful, whether they're at home or in the classroom," Nash said. "They're still going to connect with their teacher."

North Kansas City schools start on September 8.

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