Studebaker said that when she was first approached about virtual teaching, she felt sad that she would not get to see her students in person, but said she was ready to tackle the challenge ahead and come up with something different to make sure the students had as normal of a school year as possible.
“I’ve been doing what the district gave us curriculum wise, but I’ve been trying to add in extra things to try to connect more with them,” Studebaker said. “Every week we meet [virtually] as a whole class and we do the ‘fun stuff’ because I think it is important for them to get that human connection from our class, and not just the people that are around them.”
One of the many ways Studebaker is engaging with her class during their virtual learning video chats is by having them relate their reading materials to the Frenship SERVE model.
“We talk about the SERVE model and how they are still representing that, even in their homes,” Studebaker said. “We are also reading ‘The One and Only Ivan’ by Katherine Applegate right now, and I will start discussions with them and post questions on their Schoology page to talk about how the characters in the book are displaying the SERVE model.”
“The One and Only Ivan” is about a gorilla named Ivan that is lives in a circus themed mall in captivity and is written from his point of view. Studebaker said her students have related encouragement and respect from the SERVE model to the book so far.
“You can see how he [Ivan] talks to himself and how he feels about himself when he is not being respected, and when he feels like people are just watching him and judging him,” Studebaker said. “You can see how it shifts when he is encouraged by the people around him – that he knows love him and support him.”
Studebaker even started a classroom podcast to better connect with students. In the podcast, Studebaker features weekly guests from around Upland Heights to read the chapters for that week. Since she is new to Upland Heights and this group of fifth graders, she said she wants them to be able to hear voices they recognize.
“They have talked about it in our virtual meetings, about how they like it, how fun it is, and how they think it’s cool to be able to hear other teachers talk,” Studebaker said. “Every kid loves to be read to, and if you can make it fun for them, it takes the pressure off of them, but also gives them the chance to listen and enjoy a good book!”