Excellent Educators is a WAVY-TV 10 initiative to celebrate local teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students and communities during the coronavirus pandemic. These Excellent Educators were nominated by their school divisions. Congratulations to these educators for all of their hard work and accomplishments!
Name: Holly Jordan
Division: Perquimans School District
Position: First grade teacher at Perquimans Central School
What the school division said about this Excellent Educator: With the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, it compelled educators everywhere to find creative ways to ensure that teaching and learning were not interrupted. Holly Jordan met this challenge head on by doing more than just providing weekly learning packets.
She knew that students needed direct reading instruction to continue while at home during the pandemic. She quickly began implementing technology tools she learned from the District Innovator Leader Cohort training. She set up Zoom schedules with 17 out of 19 students in her class. Initially, she listened to the student read a book of choice. Her students’ needs were stronger than simply reading a book of choice from their home collection. They needed strategic instruction.
She created a lesson where students could read a book to her through Pioneer Valley or Raz Kids websites. Using technology appropriately with the screen share feature on Zoom, students viewed the teacher’s computer screen on their device. Students then read aloud the book she had selected. She was able to listen to the student read and offer immediate feedback for reading strategies.
Parents needed more support with helping their children read at home each day, so she met their needs by offering weekly and bi-weekly feedback and suggestions to parents so they could better support their child’s at-home reading instruction. Through the appropriate and effective us of technology, most students were able to maintain reading ability comparable to when school was dismissed. Her one-to-one student Zoom calls developed into small group sessions. These student needs were different from her individual sessions because these students were independent readers and benefitted from comprehension-focus instruction.
Weekly, her students explored a new animal habitat using virtual resources she collected. Using technology effectively, she began the lesson with an introductory video on the habitat the class would explore. Her students studied pictures of animals in their habitat and read a book that corresponded with the topic.
In the Zoom meetings, her students created “thinking maps.” Using technology appropriately and effectively, she was able to use her phone as a document camera so students could view the map as she made them. Students made models of the maps she taught while at home. Together they created a tree map with all of the animal habitats and their characteristics, along with several bridge maps of animal adaptations in their environment.
The students needed to continue learning in all academic areas while away from school during the coronavirus pandemic. Remote learning packets were distributed, and those students with devices at home participated in remote learning through activities online.
Each week, Jordan planned a five-day routine for two classes using links to various activities. Students submitted their work through Seesaw electronic journals. Seesaw is an application the students were accustomed to using in the classroom, and one she learned to use while working with the DIL cohort. It was an easy transition for them to use it at home to support the paper packets our school distributed during the pandemic.
Using technology enabled many students to stay current with their learning and, for some, to learn new material. The training Jordan received as a technology innovator, and her own motivation to learn ways to meet the needs of her students remotely, enabled her to plan successful digital lessons. The lessons on Seesaw also included social and emotional read alouds, activities, and opportunities to engage in mindfulness and yoga at home.
Her instruction responded to the parents’ needs to help their children learn while at home. Several parents posted on Facebook, emailed, and texted to share how much they appreciated the instruction and continued contact. Weekly, the class met with their partner class for a fun Zoom, just to socialize and engaged in a sharing activity. These were well attended, with many parents commending on how valuable this instructional virtual time was for their children as they struggled with missing friends and understanding the time away from our classrooms at school.
Several teachers emailed Jordan for more information and began meeting with students to continue reading instruction in the same way. That summer, the school principal called Jordan to meet with her because 54% of first grade students were choosing remote learning. Jordan was so successful when school closed, the principal trusted she would be able to help her plan a course of action. She proved the principal right. All teachers in each grade level divided the content and provided high-quality teaching videos to be used for asynchronous learning.
This hybrid teaching method was a new way of teaching that Jordan encouraged our staff to embrace. She is worthy to be recognized and acknowledged for her commitment to teaching and learning during COVID-19.