Wright City schools enhancing online learning ahead of fall

By: 
Derrick Forsythe
Staff Writer

Just shy of two weeks into its first-ever virtual session of summer school, the Wright City R-II School District is monitoring the program’s efficacy and gaining ideas for the fall semester.

The district this year decided to hold summer classes exclusively online, and the four-week session began on July 6.

While it has provided an opportunity for students to continue their education, the modified format resulted in a tremendous decrease in enrollment as compared to traditional summer school sessions, district officials said. The high school has around 40 students participating, and there are about 10 per grade level in the elementary and middle school levels.

“We would have loved to have more engagement,” said Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith. “While this presents a challenge, it should benefit us for later. We have the ability to create virtual learning experiences that are going to be much better than they were in the spring.”

R-II turned to an alternative method of instruction in March upon the closure of schools due to COVID-19. A prompt transition to online learning took place, with staff learning along the way.

“We’ve learned from that experience,” said Smith. “If we have to continue to do this, it’s going to be far superior to what it was previously.”

He said staff members have proven their ability and willingness to adapt and are building upon the unfamiliar method that was used during the spring.

“It’s a positive, even though it’s a struggle,” said Smith. “If you can overcome struggles in life, they can make you better. Every day teachers are creating something a little better than they were the day before.”

The easiest and most successful implementation of virtual summer school seems to be at the high school level, where students are able to earn credits while learning curriculum.

“One of the cool things with summer school at the high school level is we have created some for-credit opportunities,” said Smith. “We’re offering students the chance to take a Spanish and writing class. The students are actually taking them virtually and picking up credits while being taught by our teachers and instructors.”

At the elementary levels, the online engagement has proven more difficult.

“For those younger students, it’s more of an enrichment experience,” said Smith. “We’re not having the same degree of participation as at the high school level, where it’s for credit.”

He said the summer school session will be used to generate feedback and insight into how to approach the fall semester.

“It’s been a terrific chance for us to develop some virtual learning,” said Smith. “Summer school has been a mixture of live video instruction through Zoom, small group meetings every day where students have to join in and have conversations in Spanish with the instructor (for example).”

R-II recently surveyed families throughout the district about returning to school, and received over 75 percent participation. Staff members were also surveyed and a meeting was held on Monday to review that feedback.

“We are using the feedback and comments we have received to make most of our decisions moving forward,” said Smith. “As we design what our plan is going to be, we are taking into consideration what has been said in the feedback.”

R-II has a board meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 16, as the district further explores the return for fall semester.

Login Information

Thank you for visiting our new website. If you are a current website subscriber, for your initial login to the new site, please use the following information.

Username: Please use your current username / screen name
Password: Please also use your username / screen name for your password

Once you successfully login, you can change your password.

 

User login