Ypsilanti Community Schools K-8 Virtual School Seeks to Build on Distance Learning Success


YPSILANTI, MI – When Kier Ingraham was asked to lead virtual education for K-8 students at Ypsilanti community schools last fall, she had no idea the option of Fully distance learning would give students and parents the flexibility they needed to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It took some time for teachers to adjust, she said, but teachers seized the opportunity by reaching out to individual families to find out what types of education worked best for them and which ones. moments allowed them to come closer.

The success of the program was evident in the growth of the distance learning program from around 300 students in fall 2020 to around 650 students in April, Ingraham said.

Virtual meetings with parents who wanted more individualized education for their children – often after traditional school hours – and small group work will again serve as the backbone for a new K-8 Ypsilanti Community virtual learning school. Schools is offering this fall.

“We use what we have learned to provide an innovative learning option for our students and our communities,” said Ingraham, principal of Ypsi Connected Community School. “We listened to our parents, we listened to the community and we realized that the power of relationships was one of the main reasons we as a group of online educators have been so successful this year. last. “

The Ypsi Connected Community School is the next iteration of its efforts to provide a virtual option for students in grades five to eight, providing students with live synchronous instruction during traditional classroom hours, Monday through Friday.

JEC plans to offer in-person classes to all interested students this fall. This past school year, the district gave students the choice of virtual or in-person lessons when its COVID-19 numbers were dropping, although most students spent the majority of the year in distance learning.

Teaching is led by certified teachers, providing a distance learning environment with opportunities for groups of students to periodically meet in person in the classrooms of the district’s Achieving College and Career Education (ACCE) building. at 1076 Ecorse Road, the location of the YCS Virtual School for grades 9-12.

Each child receives a personalized education plan that includes instruction in small groups, Ingraham said, with the ability to create their own project-based learning experience, making the participation of family members paramount in the process. teaching format.

“We think it’s perfect for a lot of students,” Ingraham said. “It’s not for all students and it’s not for all families, but there are a lot of students who learn best in a supportive home, who don’t necessarily learn better in a class of 25. to 30 students. “

This was evident in the past school year, Ingraham said, when distance teachers designated times to hold sessions in small groups of about six students.

One-on-one group learning sessions like this are just not possible in the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom setting, she said, but will continue to be a part of the make-up. Ypsi connected community school.

“This is where we saw our power – it was this 30 minute math lesson that had the biggest impact because you had a group of six or fewer students with a master teacher without any distractions,” he said. said Ingraham.

For Kindergarten to Grade 5 students, the typical day begins with a morning meeting and recording with a teacher, as well as a reading and writing block and ‘unified arts’ instruction that may include art, music or physical education before lunch and recess period.

The afternoon block from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. includes lessons in math, science and social-emotional learning, before a daily recap.

College students have one hour of counseling to start the day before a reading and writing block and “unified arts” teaching with live instruction. After lunch there is a period of mindfulness, followed by math, science, and a location-based learning block to close the day.

Periodic in-person meetings are designed to provide students with face-to-face interactions with other students, while also providing opportunities for hands-on activities.

In addition, a place-based learning block can include a skill that parents want to master for their child or a project they want to complete within the community, Deputy Superintendent Carlos Lopez said, with suggestions. opportunities to work with a designated “coach” from the East. University of Michigan.

Targeted teaching will focus on science and social studies with an emphasis on community history, said Lopez, giving examples of developing a community garden, with food collected to benefit food banks. local.

“We are trying to find ways to really involve our youth and our youth so that they can support the community’s vision for the future, because there are a lot of decisions made at this level that can really engage our people. young people to get involved and become advocates and start creating solutions to everyday problems, ”Lopez said.

“This window into this pandemic has allowed us to see how, collectively, if we move from a school-centered ideology to a community approach where family and their stories and their stories are part of our agenda, then we are truly becoming more culturally sensitive. We pass on to our children this sense of respect and value for who they are and who they are. “

Ingraham plans to have 24 students each per level “band” divided into K-1, 2-3, 4-5 and 6-8 levels, with three or four teachers per level. She noted that School of Choice students may be subject to a lottery process for enrollment.

Those who are interested in enrollment in Ypsi Connected Community School can apply online.


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