The following story was posted in the Cleveland Sun Post Herald. At Summit Learning we are inspired when we hear stories about how schools are finding success with remote learning. In addition to technology access, Summit Learning schools also find that life skills and strong student-teacher relationships are the key to continued learning and student engagement during school closures.
By John Benson, special to cleveland.com
FAIRVIEW PARK, Ohio — For more than a month, 1,800 Fairview Park City School District students have been learning remotely during the stay-at-home spring. That will obviously continue for the rest of the school year per Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent announcement that buildings will remain closed.
Superintendent Bill Wagner said feedback from staff, students and parents has been largely positive about the unprecedented shift to online curriculum.
“Our teachers are working hard to try to make the job easy as we can on our parents, who are juggling many challenges,” Wagner said. “Overall, we were exceptionally well prepared for this with the level of technology we had.”
Fairview Park City Schools is a 1:1 technology district, with all students in grades K-5 having school-issued iPads, while grades 6-12 have MacBooks.
Wagner said one hurdle the district had to overcome at the beginning of remote learning involved those families who self-identified as not having internet capacity at home.
“We were able to work with local vendors to make that happen for them,” Wagner said. “To our knowledge, all of our families, all of our homes have internet access and all have devices.
“Whenever a device breaks down, I’ve got a stash in my office. They contact the district, and I’m out the next day knocking on the front door with a replacement device. We’ve got a system that’s working really well. We’re very blessed and fortunate in that regard.”
The superintendent said in many ways, the district’s distance learning success can be tied to the Fairview Advantage, which includes collaboration, creation, innovation, investigation and problem-solving.
Wagner said it applies not only to offering technology, but also the district’s focus on mastery learning, mastery grading and skill development focus in addition to content knowledge.
“All of these things combined we consider to be that Fairview Advantage,” Wagner said. “At this stage of the game, all of those things really are helping us make this transition, making learning easier in a remote-learning setting.
“We have, of course, the learning management systems — Seesaw for K-5 and then Summit Learning for grades 6-12 — on top of Google Classroom. Those completely prepared us for this.”
Unlike other districts, which began remote learning by refreshing students on previously taught curriculum, Fairview Park City Schools from the start was teaching new content and concepts.
“Moving into our fourth quarter, we’re really doubling down on identifying what those key standards are and what those key skills are,” Wagner said. “We’re emphasizing those things and circling back and spiraling our curriculum to make sure our students have the skills and content knowledge necessary as much as possible under these circumstances to be ready for the beginning of next year.”
Because these are uncharted experiences, Wagner said teachers from each grade level will be in communication regarding any gap of curriculum coverage completed by the end of the term, with the idea that next school year instruction can pick up accordingly.
“Overall, the community of Fairview Park has been absolutely amazing,” Wagner said. “So much thanks to everyone for communicating, cooperating and really showing that Fairview spirit.”