Class During COVID: West Middleton Elementary

Examining performance and participation as students enter week 8 of virtual learning
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - We’ve embarked on a year-long journey of following classrooms across our viewing area to see how COVID is impacting students and staff.

In Miss Amy Aschenbeck’s kindergarten classroom at West Middleton Elementary School, she reports about 90% of the students are engaged. The 4 kindergarten teacher at the school work together to put out 4 learning videos a day and just added more live, small group learning sessions to focus on individualized instruction.

Miss Amy Aschenbeck works with her students in a live, small group to focus on learning...
Miss Amy Aschenbeck works with her students in a live, small group to focus on learning progressions in the core subjects.(Leigh Mills, WMTV)

“Good morning, friends!” Miss Aschenbeck greets her students as they enter their math small group.

Now nine times a week the kindergartners work with their teacher live on zoom.

“We have come up with priority standards,” explains Miss Aschenbeck, “We pick between 3 and 10 for each subject, and those 3-10 standards are like the most important standards that if kids know them by the end of kindergarten, if they have mastered them, then truly they are doing great.”

“Down and around in a circle you go,” explains Miss Aschenbeck as she walks her students through how to write numbers, “That’s a 6 just as you know!”

Four of those meetings are small groups to focus on learning progressions in reading, phonics, writing and math.

“The goal of those small groups is to check in with them,” Miss Aschenbeck explains, “Do some extra practice, and give the kids some real time feedback on how they’re doing during those small groups.”

But it’s the 20 minute 1:1 sessions that many students look forward to most. As her student, June Mann, explains, “Because then there’s no people talking so loud!”

“Okay, how about I read the first two pages,” suggests Miss Aschenbeck to June, who responds, “And I read the second two!”

“We really take what we’re noticing in the small groups, what we’re noticing in previous one on ones and what we’re noticing in the activities that they’re completing in Seesaw [the learning app used by the district],” explains Aschenbeck, “And we’re able to see exactly where their next step might be in their learning.”

Miss Amy Aschenbeck works with one of her students during a live 1:1 learning session to focus...
Miss Amy Aschenbeck works with one of her students during a live 1:1 learning session to focus on reading.(Leigh Mills, WMTV)

“ZZZZ... zoo!” exclaims June as she reads a book out loud to Miss Aschenbeck, who replies, “Very nice! You figured that out all on your own.”

“From what we’ve seen, it’s been very positive,” responds Jason Mann, June’s father, “At her age just being able to see stuff like her recognize the words that she was mentioning... and at the end of the day talking about it and hearing how excited she is. It’s the way we’re gauging how well she is doing with it.”

“Can I give you a high five?” asks Miss Aschenbeck as she wraps up her 1:1 session with June and they both high five the screen.

“It gives me hope and gives me faith that what we’re doing, even in a virtual setting, it is working,” Miss Aschenbeck adds, “Kids are learning. There are those light bulb moments. It’s super exciting. Even though I wish that I could be with them in person, I still get to see that spark of learning, and that is why I went into teaching.”

“I’m going to miss you!” says June as she gives Miss Aschenbeck a virtual hug toward the screen at the end of their 1:1 session. Miss Aschenbeck responds immediately with a virtual hug back, “I’m going to miss you, too.”

The K-2 students were originally scheduled to return in-person on October 12, but the MCPASD School Board decided to continue with all virtual instruction for all grades in the district until Dane County is at or below a 14-day average of 54 cases per day for 4 consecutive weeks.

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