Scrambling to learn new software and technology
Some math problems from IXL, one of the online tools that the school district has licensed and deployed for students.

Scrambling to learn new software and technology

Teachers must quickly adapt to new tools to educate their students remotely

Windham Southeast Supervisory Union's remote learning isn't happening in a vacuum. It is also surrounded by individual families' circumstances and a global pandemic.

“It's all a challenge, and it'll continue to be a challenge,” said Deb Kardane, the district's curriculum coordinator.

WSESU Math Tutor Tine Biolsi is riding the learning curve as well.

The videoconferencing software Zoom was an unknown platform for her. Now, she teaches other people how to use the program and do things such as create breakout rooms for small group learning.

Bilosi said that a lot of her time has gone into researching and learning to use online platforms. She has also devoted a lot of time to researching the best practices behind remote learning.

“Some are insanely boring, and some are really geared towards learning in a really strong way but are also very engaging for students,” she said.

Teachers in the district have adopted a variety of platforms, Biolsi said. Some use Zearn Math, which also connects to the district's math curriculum. Other teachers use a service called IXL for math, language arts, social studies, science, and Spanish.

The district just received licenses to use a math platform called DreamBox Learning, which is adaptive and “meets the needs of students where they are,” she said.

DreamBox usually costs more than the district would consider spending, but the company has offered a substantial discount during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Biolsi said.

As for adapting classroom curriculum for offsite consumption, “Good teachers are always learning,” Biolsi said.

That premise is built into a teacher's school year, in the form of planned professional development (PD) days and other learning opportunities.

“Education is a science, so you're constantly learning about the best way in which students learn, or the way the brain develops,” she said. “But this is PD on a totally different front.”

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