WARREN, NJ - Flexible Instruction has created many obstacles for teachers throughout the country to be able to engage with their students in real-time. Warren Township Schools has developed a process to support their educators with professional development specifically related to the use of technology and video so that lessons can be modified, individualized and appealing to students.
The virtual field trips provide students a unique experience to learn about a high-interest topic and submit a creative product while providing staff opportunities to participate in professional learning to refine their distance learning skills.
The lesson for each grade level follows the same format: listen to a story/chapter read aloud, take a virtual tour, respond to questions on a Google form, build or create something related to the topic and then share the creation. There are also extension activities for students who might be interested in additional work. Many of these projects are created to encourage students to shut down their Chromebook for a period of time to build or create a project specific to their FID Trip.
“Our goal was to provide instruction and activities in an easy to access platform that required very little interaction from the classroom teacher one day per week to enable all Instructional staff to participate in professional development,” stated Cassidy.
The first two FID Trips have been very successful. Students have traveled to the International Space Station as well as Under the Sea to learn about Coral reefs. The overall reaction to FID Trips from the students has been positive. According to a middle school grade 7 student, “I think that this field trip was amazing and I am really looking forward to the next one.”
Each Wednesday while students are participating in their FID Trip, all Instructional Staff members have engaged in virtual staff meetings as well as professional development sessions led by Mr. William Kimmick, Director of Curriculum. Ms. Stacey Modugno, Supervisor of Curriculum, Mrs. Jessica Nathan and Mrs. Kristen Stoyanov, Instructional Specialists as well as Mrs. Michelle Zgombic and Mrs. Suzanne Wisher, Technology teachers.
In a video shared with the district on April 3, Dr. Matthew Mingle, Superintendent of Schools, introduced a model which he has titled The Distance Learning Continuum. Level 1.0 entailed issuing assignments in text format, level 2.0 introduced short videos where students were able to view a video from their teacher to begin their day. Staff is currently working on level 3.0 which includes mini-lesson videos with clear instructional objectives and directions for a student response or activity.
On April 17, Mingle provided an update on new key information and the direction the district is heading on The Distance Learning Continuum. Additionally, Mingle reminded the school community to be mindful and flexible in terms of access to devices and the students’ working environments as well as the rigorous training that the Instructional Staff are receiving. The goal is to provide students with meaningful work while connecting them to topics of their particular interest.
“We are going to work extremely hard every day to do right by our kids to the greatest extent possible. We will get a lot of things right and we will get things wrong, as well. The best way for you to share that information with us about how you think we are doing or ideas that you are learning from other school districts is to fill out the weekly survey each Friday. We take those results very seriously and we use that to identify our priorities for the next week.” (Mingle, 2020, 17.07)
Photos are courtesy of Warren Township parents:
1. Sophia Morales, grade 1 from Angelo L. Tomaso is showing off her rocket ship!
2. Lorenzo Gramaglia grade 2 from Centro School created an Under the Sea masterpiece with Legos.
3. Izzy Parry grade 3 Mt. Horeb student is displaying her “Jersey Strong” rocket ship!
4. Dean Vieira, grade 7 student from Warren Middle School created and Under the Sea scene!
5. Elisa Dos Santos, grade 1 from Woodland School is holding her Under the Sea masterpiece!