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Virtual Learning in Grades K-5: Best Practices from Calvert Learning to Support Elementary Students

Virtual Learning in Grades K-5: Best Practices from Calvert Learning to Support Elementary Students

Learning in the elementary grades is all about interactive, hands-on instruction and collaborative experiences—which means school closures have been especially difficult for K-5 educators to navigate. However, with the right teaching strategies virtual learning can be effective for elementary students. Edmentum’s Calvert Learning has been providing these kind of successful non-traditional learning experiences for over a century through carefully curated, project-based K-5 curriculum and expert educator support.

In the clips from our recent webinar, learn the three keys to successful virtual learning for students in grades K-5: engagement, feedback, and family involvement and how Calvert Learning programs apply these best practices to ensure positive student outcomes.

Make Connections

Krista Lasky, who has been teaching K-5 virtually for 8 years, stresses the importance of making connections when working with younger kids. For her, there are five elements to making connections:

  • Embracing video conferencing
  • Communicate regularly via email, text, and instant message
  • Provide small-group opportunities
  • Offer technology-based virtual clubs and field trips
  • Incorporate strategies from brick-and-mortar

In the video clip above, she provides examples for how she, as a Calvert Learning educator, incorporates those 5 elements in her teaching every day as well as tips and tricks that have lead her to success.

Offer High-Quality Feedback

Amy Roche, manager of Academic Services at Calvert Learning, explains the importance of feedback in grading for students outside of the brick and mortar classroom. There are eight key strategies to use when providing high quality feedback that will drive student learning forward:

  • Addresses students with personalized comments
  • Acknowledge effort and contain a “glow” something a student did well
  • Help students identify skill gaps and include a “grow”
  • Maintain a constructive, supportive, written tone
  • Offer measures to apply consistency in grading practice
  • Provide specific examples from the student evidence
  • Facilitate reflection and avoid vague statements
  • Encourage students to initiate ongoing conversations

In the video above, Amy goes through why each element is important for students, educators, and parents. The example below shows those 8 steps in action.

Best Practices Calvert

Partner with Parents

As we know, when students are learning virtually, parents need to be much more hands on. Krista Lasky has tips and tricks that she uses that have helped her build connections, get families engaged, and help parents feel supported. Her main tips include:

  • Hold regular office hours for parents to ask questions with clear expectations on what the office hours are for
  • Provide a schedule for when you will be available and what a typical day should look like for the student
  • Offer short, direct lessons – keep it to 10-15 minutes. Don’t be afraid to chunk out content
  • Clearly communicate timelines on when things need to be completed
  • Remember that remote learning is new to families and you! Be flexible.

The Calvert Learning Approach

Calvert Learning has been around for 100+ years and focuses on four key elements in its effective approach.

  • It is a complete, research-based curriculum designed to engage elementary learners.
  • Problem-based activities and engaging projects that showcase the student’s learning and actively engage students in the learning process
  • A family-centered approach for caregivers to be full partners with educators
  • Online and offline learning to honor what we know about brain-based science and real-world limitations

Back in March when educators were scrambling to learn content, patch together curriculum, and ask their young students to navigate dozens of different platforms, they created somewhat of a “Frankenstein’s monster” that ultimately lead to barriers in learning for themselves and students. Calvert keeps elementary student learning through one platform for all subject areas. It’s standards-aligned with spiraling of skills throughout courses and throughout grades.

Calvert also takes kids offline for project-based learning. We have all learned a lot in the past few months about what is and is not possible online, but we live in an analog world, too. Authentic and even messy ways to show what they know is vital for elementary learners. This is why Calvert has built it into the curriculum. All core subjects and all grades have multiple opportunities for students to learn through project-based learning in Calvert because we don’t live in a multiple-choice world and children need to speak their truths and discover what makes learning fun for them.

Speaking of a real-world approach, the real world also included parents. Calvert knows that the family-centric approach is the strongest approach in virtual learning. Calvert has a specific role for parents called the learning guide that enables a loving adult to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with a child and work through any issues together. This involves elements like teaching notes that accompany students’ learning modules. This takes the guesswork out for parents. They have more insight into what is being asked of their child and more tools in their toolbox to help when things aren’t coming together for their kids. Honoring parents with actionable ways to support learning is a key way that Calvert drives the very best outcomes for young learners.

Lastly, Calvert is digital-first curriculum, but not digital-only. Calvert understands that we live in a real world where computers break and screens give us headaches and the internet goes down at inconvenient times. No one wants young children to stare at blue light computer screens for hours and hours everyday. That’s not what the existing body of science tells us is right for people, let alone little people. Calvert honors this by also offering a digital + print option for all core courses for every student so that learning can occur online and offline.

If you’d like to learn more about Calvert learning, you can check out our brochure on engaging young learners. Watch this webinar in full to get all of our presenters tips and tricks, including the audience Q&A.