PCEF funded an intensive reading skills program and an extension of the Latino Outreach Aides through the summer. Todd Klarich, PCSD Community Education Director, reflects on the many firsts and lessons learned over the summer.
1) How was PCSD summer school different this summer than last summer?
This summer students were all online. Last summer was face to face. The students this year were expected to come to a meeting with a teacher and some were online for the full 3 hours while others were on for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Last year it was offered K-7th, and this year we offered it K-8th grade. We also extended the secondary to six weeks instead of four weeks as it has been in the past. On any given day we had about 20 kids per grade level. In our opinion we need to continue to offer summer school K-8 and the full 6 weeks next year as well.
2) How many students this summer vs last summer?
We had approximately 220 K-8 last year. We had 575 register for this year. We pre-tested over 300. We averaged about 200 a day. Attendance with online education is hard to track because students can come and go during the day so easily. There is also the dilemma of are you tracking attendance or participation? With online education, those two are very different.
3) How did the Spanish-speaking Outreach Liaisons help with summer school?
Outreach Liaisons called every student every day who was marked absent to check in and make sure they were ok. If they needed computer support, they directed students to McPolin or Ecker Hill to get help from Dan or Angie.
4) What surprised you? What did you learn?
We were most surprised by the connection and relationships that can be built between the teacher and the students in an online situation. We learned that this connection is possible and the students can feel the teacher’s support. This connection is even more important in an online situation.
5) Anything else you would want our audience to know?
Our teachers did a fabulous job. Our goal was to be “live” with students as much as possible and help them through the online learning process and I do think we succeeded. We got students K-8 and parents using Zoom and Canvas which will only support instruction this fall.
I also want Park City parents to know that online education is completely different than face to face. You cannot even begin to compare the two. Online education has so many variables that cannot be controlled through school. I would say the biggest obstacle we face in Park City is the lack of stable internet for our most vulnerable students. We are not sure how we figure this out but it is something that is at the heart of online instruction. The other issue we face is, students in lower grades need an adult to be with them for instruction and the older grades need it because they know if they don’t have someone watching them they can just leave or not participate.
This is a real issue. Parents have to work but when they are not around the student doesn’t always go online. As we embark on this new way of education there are so many things to consider and learn. We have a ton of information from summer school and are happy to share. I think as a district we can make online education successful and find answers to our most pressing issues.