Some Estacada students remain virtual amid move to hybrid learning
While many elementary school students in Estacada made the switch to hybrid learning earlier this year, some families have opted to continue with distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the Estacada School District, approximately 20% of families have opted to continue with online learning.
Students at Clackamas River and River Mill elementary schools participating in hybrid learning were divided into two cohorts. One group learns in school buildings on Mondays and Tuesdays, and participates in online learning on Wednesdays and Thursdays. A second group learns online on Mondays and Tuesdays and is in the classroom on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
A third cohort consists of students who have opted to continue with distance learning during this time. The group is joined by hybrid students on their online learning days.
Katie Maroney is the online second grade teacher at River Mill Elementary School. She teaches around 50 students each day.
While that number is larger than the class size of 28 she had when all of the district was participating in comprehensive distance learning, she's appreciated getting to know all of the school's second grade students.
To reduce online-only class sizes, the district is in the process of hiring two teachers and one paraeducator.
Sometimes Maroney works with an instructional assistant, and they use breakout rooms to work with smaller groups of students.
She's been using a variety of features on Zoom to keep students engaged throughout the day.
"We switch it up a lot to keep it different. We'll do polls, or I'll have them type in the chat. They like using the thumbs-up feature," she said. "Now, it's more important to be fast-paced so I don't lose their attention."
She noted that students have adapted to the online platform fairly well.
"I thought they wouldn't get the technology, but I've been surprised at how fast they've caught on. The growth from last spring to now is really impressive," she said.
Every Friday, Maroney collaborates with the district's other second grade teachers to plan out the lessons for the upcoming week and ensure that lessons for online and hybrid students are not repetitive.
Along with sharing materials with students virtually, Maroney uses the district's daily bus delivery service to connect them with items.
"The kids get really excited about deliveries," she added.
She thinks it's valuable that families are able to choose between distance and hybrid learning.
"(Students in the online program) are going to get good instruction. They're working with a teacher and not just working through a curriculum online," she said.
Maroney added that there's flexibility for students to move in between the programs. Some students have switched from hybrid to online only, and hybrid students will participate in the online program on their in-classroom days if they are not feeling well.
Maroney opted to teach online because her son is in a high risk category for COVID-19.
"The district has been very supportive," she said.
She's excited to continue to work with students for the rest of the school year.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know all of the students better," she said. "I'm excited to see what we can do together online."
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