Schools to start teaching new material again

May 5, 2020

MATTAPOISETT — After weeks of online review, students can now start learning new content again, Old Rochester Regional administrators said. 

When the state first started remote learning, educators and parents alike expressed frustration at the lack of requirements for students, unlike neighboring states such as Rhode Island. 

At a May 4 video school district meeting, Mattapoisett school officials told committee members how the state is moving past reviewing content and focusing on preparing students for the next grade.

Center School and Old Hammondtown Principal Rose Bowman said “not only are we stronger, but we now know where we need to be” with the district’s learning initiatives set by the state to have students ready for the next level in the fall.

Bowman said that at different phases of the shutdown teachers focused on providing alternative learning supplements and reviewed old material in phase two. In the third phase, educators are now focusing on teaching students new material to advance them to the next grade. 

Associate Principal Kevin Tavares showed members what a normal day looks like for a Kindergarten student and a sixth grade student in a virtual learning environment.

In the Kindergarten class, teachers give parents and students a daily task list that includes links to videos and activities, as well as worksheets and physical activities to incorporate into instruction such as doing sit ups while spelling

Sixth graders start the day with a morning meeting to take attendance using a Google form. Their day is a mix of learning over Zoom and watching pre-recorded lessons by teachers.

Old Hammondtown social studies teacher Sara Jacbosen said in her video that students relish interacting with each other online. If a student posts a question for her, most times another student will answer it before Jacobsen can address it.

Out of her 70 students, 60 are regularly engaged, and she and her students meet over Zoom three to four times a week.

Specialists in the district have also played a major role in developing enrichment activities that don’t involve a screen.

Tavares said that Center School Science Specialist Ben Squire has done a great job at teaching students using common items found around the house. His activities also encourage students to share their work via video responses for others to see. In an example, 23 kindergarten students showed off their drawings of osprey eggs and told what they learned about the subject.

For special needs students, Assistant Superintendent Michael Nelson said that special needs educators are working with parents, guardians and grade level instructors on a weekly basis to give out coursework. 

Committee member Shannon Finning said  although the district is doing a great job, she recommended it give parents a clear benchmark of where their child should be at the end of this school year. 

As a parent herself, she said that the district should “want to do the right thing by our kids.”