At Fountain Hill ES
cLocal cable providers RCN and Service Electric are offering free cable modems and Internet access to qualifying families in their service areas, and BASD had already distributed Kajeet Internet hotspot access points to families that requested them at the beginning of the school year.
Elementary review and enrichment resources include the McGraw-Hill Wonders reading program, with specific (non-mandatory) assignments for each day. On the first day of the shutdown, for example, a second-grader could read the story, “In a Redwood Forest,” summarize what he read, and write about the story, explaining why redwoods only grow in California.
Every day, students were encouraged to read a book or a chapter from a longer book and discuss what they read with someone else. The questions are reminiscent of a book club: “What was your favorite part?” “What was surprising?” “If you were the author, what would you have done differently?”
In an initiative being piloted by Fountain Hill ES, teachers have recorded themselves reading “bedtime stories” to their students. These videos are being shared with the students – one story per night, so no binge-watching – via the ClassDojo app, using the Flipgrid tool on the back end.
Brad Drey, who teaches fifth grade at Fountain Hill and is known for his popular Twitter videos of school events, was enthusiastic about the project from the start.
“The idea of bedtime stories came from our principal, Mrs. Courtney Stambaugh,” he explains. “She shared her idea with me and I just helped implement it, using a resource called Flipgrid[…]
“The big thing is being able to make connections with the kids and the families and stay in touch,” he says. Fountain Hill shared the first video March 23.
It’s no accident that literacy was the skill on which Fountain Hill chose to focus.
“During this unprecedented time of school being closed for an extended period of time,” Drey says, “it is important that our students see their teachers, principals and school staff and hear from us. We need to find ways of keeping those connections going.
“Videos of the Fountain Hill staff reading directly to them is keeping that connection going, allowing them to see and hear us, but also promoting the importance and love of reading at the same time.”
Pre-K instructor Angelique Bucciero chose “Sleepyhead Bear” by Lisa Westburg Peters (illustrated by Ian Schoenherr). As she reads the story, Ms. Bucciero points out the rhyming words and holds the book to show the illustrations to the viewers. Reading specialist Amy Vogler reads Maurice Sendak’s classic tale, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Community school director Paige Hoffman joins her son Luke in his bunk bed and reads “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?” by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, complete with roaring and other sound effects.
Fountain Hill has begun advertising the bedtime stories via the school’s Twitter account (@BASDFtHill). Students and their families will be able to access the videos using the ClassDojo app or the school’s website (https://basdwpweb.beth.k12.pa.us/fountainhill/).