Our students need us now more than ever. Education can provide stability during a time that feels uncertain for so many.
As Colorado Youth for a Change staff and our Colorado Reading Corps AmeriCorps members pivot to align with stay at home orders, we want you to know that your generosity is still making a difference. Here’s how.
Jeffco Public Schools had some of the first schools that were up and running with remote learning as well as the integration of our Colorado Reading Corps AmeriCorps members in literacy. Other district partners like Estes Park School District R-3 and Greeley-Evans School District 6 have followed, utilizing different platforms to share reading passages with students online, as well as the tutor’s face as they read and provide feedback. While students sometimes feel shy at first using this new technology, they continue to thrive with the one-on-one reading support and guidance.
“The early literacy interventions have transferred well virtually. I use physical copies of letter cards/blank squares propped up on a makeshift stand, and point to them as we go through Letter Sound Correspondence and Phoneme Blending.” Dylan, Colorado Reading Corps AmeriCorps tutor
As all districts transition to provide remote learning, they’ve had to get creative in the ways they support students and families. One of CYC’s district partners doesn’t allow one-on-one virtual connection with students, so AmeriCorps members are supporting literacy in other ways. From recording themselves reading books and then sharing with students, to putting together reading packet information for parents and students to share, we’re inspired by the creativity of AmeriCorps members and school partners. To provide extended support across local communities, AmeriCorps members continue to help at food banks or make masks from home that other volunteers can use.
Technology continues to be a challenge for many families, in particular lack of computer and/or internet access. For example, if a family has one computer and four children at home, online learning can be a challenge. While some districts have been able to distribute I-Pads and Chromebooks to anyone in need, others are limited in the resources they can provide to all families. Furthermore, CYC’s AmeriCorps members have had to be trained and supported to learn all new technology, and they’ve altered interventions based on the online platform being used by the school.
“The challenges are obviously outside distractions from siblings or other people around, and sometimes the technology doesn't always work either. But all of the students were excited to see me and read again. They all said that they wish that we could be in school in person.” Erica, Colorado Reading Corps AmeriCorps tutor
Nearly 200 students are continuing to receive one-on-one literacy support through the Colorado Reading Corps program, and many more are receiving resources in other ways through read-aloud videos and customized literacy packets. As we strive to complete the 2019-2020 school year strong, we also recognize the importance of planning for 2020-2021, when students will be struggling to catch up once again and the role of AmeriCorps tutors will be as important as ever.
According to Chalkbeat, one recent metro Denver school board meeting included an update that fewer than 50% of elementary students had logged onto remote learning. This update aligns with other districts from around the country, who cite that elementary aged students are logging on in lower percentages than other grades (EdSource, April 6, 2020). While the reasons for this vary, CYC’s Master Coaches see the struggles of families who either don’t understand how to support their students or are essential workers and therefore not around to provide one-on-one guidance. This is especially challenging for younger children who can’t always navigate the technology alone.