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Striving Readers Grant - Connecting with Students Online

Students, teachers, and parents alike have been challenged in the COVID-19 environment to ensure that students have the best possible educational experience as districts flow in and out of remote learning. Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center received a $1.2 million Striving Readers Grant (SRG) in 2018 and has continued to provide evidence-based language and literacy teaching and learning for all learners from birth through grade 12 while adapting to the changes 2020 has brought to education.

In order to help with those changes, educators in the three districts that remain in the Striving Readers Grant, Buckeye Central, Plymouth Shiloh, and Highland, will be provided with a recently published text, Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching and Learning by Jennifer Serravallo. This additional text, approved by the Ohio Department of Education in a budget revision, will ensure that the grant’s work and implications for student learning seamlessly continue in a challenging, virtual environment. The text primarily focuses on grades K-8 but has implications for grades 9-12 as well. 

Serravallo addresses educators’ biggest questions about online teaching, such as the following: 

  • How do I build and nurture relationships with students and their at-home caregivers from afar? 
  • How do I adapt my best teaching to an online setting? 
  • How do I keep a focus on students and their needs when they aren’t in front of me? 

The author guides educators to focus on the vital importance of personal connection in a remote environment through some specific practices, including effectively prioritizing what matters most during remote, online instruction. Serravallo encourages teachers to schedule their day and the students’ day to maximize teaching and learning, to streamline curricular units and roll them out digitally, and to record highly engaging short lessons that students will enjoy and learn from, but not overwhelm them. She recommends that teachers work with smaller groups of students and drive learning through independent practice. She also emphasizes partnering with the adults in a student’s home to support the work with their child.

Accompanying this text will be an online Google Classroom platform that will facilitate delivery of “just in time” professional development to the teachers in these districts, thus buttressing the work they began in the first three years of the grant and enabling educators to see more clearly how to implement newly adopted strategies in a remote learning environment. Educators will also be able to chat with each other and share the strategies they are using for student success. 
In addition, Mid-Ohio ESC’s Striving Readers Coaches will continue to monitor the professional development associated with this text and continue to provide explicit instruction in using the resources created by nationally recognized literacy experts. These services will also remotely support high quality intervention practices for students.   

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