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Where: Pascagoula-Gautier School District, Mississippi
Who: Eva Harvell, Director of Technology
K-12 environments have moved from the classroom to the living room around the U.S. Districts are faced with obstacles they were not fully prepared for. The Pascagoula-Gautier School District (PGSD) in South Mississippi is overcoming each obstacle head on.
The district’s emphasis on professional learning, a positive push for technology integration, comprehensive curriculum pacing, and solid communication tools to connect with parents has allowed PGSD to continue to support our 6,800 students after closing our classroom doors on Friday, March 13.
PGSD encourages its educators to continually grow in order to stay current and implement research-based methods of instruction in the classroom. Our educators have access to a wide array of professional learning opportunities from the district’s technology integration specialists and curriculum specialists. The technology integration specialists began offering daily webinars immediately. These live, one-hour webinars focused on Google Classroom, Google Meet, screencasting resources, and other resources that would help educators organize and deliver content in a distance learning environment. Educators left the webinars with tangible ideas they could implement immediately. The webinars were also recorded for educators to reference later. Articles on implementing distance learning were used by our curriculum specialists as conversation starters in their professional learning sessions.
Early on, we surveyed families to pinpoint which households needed to check out a district Chromebook or information on low cost/no cost internet connections.
PGSD has been a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) district since the early 2000s. Being familiar with the integrative resources within GAFE, coupled with continuous professional learning opportunities on those resources, allowed for a smooth transition from classroom learning to remote learning.
For several years, our secondary educators have used Google Classroom to deliver instructional content, facilitate class discussions, and assess student knowledge in a digital platform, all while still in the classroom. With the help of our specialists, the educators were able to make modifications to content and assessments for students now working at home. These modifications included using interactive slides instead of PDFs, allowing students to use Flipgrid or Adobe Spark to complete assignments, and recording Google Meet sessions for those who could not attend a live meeting.
Our elementary educators were able to use resources, such as Screencastify, to create content-rich instructional videos for their students. They used Google Sites to build their own resource websites, which provided an accessible location to store and deliver content to their students and parents. Modifications to assignments also occurred on the elementary level to be more inline with remote learning. Instead of worksheets, teachers use Nearpod and Google Forms for assessing student knowledge. Online tools, such as Vocaroo, allow students to record themselves talking about the book they read or explaining how they solved a math problem.
The district’s curriculum specialists work with master educators each year to create a comprehensive curriculum pacing guide, which lays out the standards pacing and research-based resources for each grade and subject. These guides have allowed the district to quickly determine on which standards educators will focus their instruction during remote learning.
To ensure we are reaching all of our parents, PGSD utilizes a variety of communication platforms, including social media, the district website, and SchoolStatus. Information that affects the entire district is posted on our district Facebook page and district website. Educators and administrators stay connected with parents through SchoolStatus, which provides two-way communication through phone calls and text messages. SchoolStatus also keeps a secure record of each communication. Parents can also communicate directly with the technology department, using a dedicated email address, for assistance on any technology-related issue or question.
Educators around the U.S. are facing the same obstacles. PGSD has created a distance learning resource website that provides access to our webinars and other resources.
We have also created a website where parents and students from all over can access online learning resources for PreK-12, behavioral and social-emotional support resources, and much more.
The face of education is changing, but the Pascagoula-Gautier School District is ready to do what it takes to keep our students thriving and growing.