Remote Learning in Action: Putnam County School System, Tennessee

remote learning
(Image credit: Putnam County School System)

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Where: Putnam County School System, Cookeville, Tennessee

Who: Sam Brooks, Personal Learning Supervisor, Putnam County School System

When implementing remote learning, Putnam County School System started by laying out a plan that focused on supporting students’ supplemental learning from home. The district has been using Google Classroom for several years, so many of the teachers and staff members were already familiar with the platform, says Brooks.

"The first goal of the district was to make sure that kids were safe, so a Google form was created for teachers to share with students asking about their needs," says Brooks. Questions included, “Do you have shelter?” “Do you have food?” “Do you have an internet connection?” “Do you have a device, or would you rather have a paper packet?” Teachers connected with every student in the district, and each one's needs have been addressed. 

The district's remote learning instructional plan plan is divided into three parts: Content delivery, mobile devices, and internet access. 

Although the district uses Canvas as an LMS, Google Classroom is the primary content delivery method for remote learning because the platform seems like the easiest for teachers new to remote learning, says Brooks. The distribution of mobile devices and internet access have been ongoing processes. 

Online resources have been made available to teachers in the remote learning instructional plan. Links to help videos for students and faculty are continually being added, covering subjects such as scheduling assignments in Google Classroom and setting up Zoom accounts. 

In addition to the public remote learning instructional plan, the district has provided a private teacher resource folder that includes items such as FAQs, IT support tickets, form templates, help videos, news updates, special ed resources for learning at home, ELA supports, professional development and training links, and links to digital content and synchronous teaching sources. 

As part of the district's efforts, teachers are expected to post assignment schedules and set daily office hours for availability via Zoom conferences, according to Brooks. Recommended resources are also available to share with students, plus instructions for students on how to use Classlink from home. Extra information about remote learning has also been provided.

Putnam County also has Future Ready, a program for online learning that includes VITAL (Virtual Instruction To Accentuate Learning), an online virtual K-12 school, which has helped make the remote learning transition easier. Other online, e-learning and digital learning resources are also available.

Ray Bendici is the Managing Editor of Tech & Learning and Tech & Learning University. He is an award-winning journalist/editor, with more than 20 years of experience, including a specific focus on education.