Distance Learning Keeps Student on Sick Leave Connected

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When fifth-grade student Steven was placed on long-term medical leave following surgery, his John F. Kennedy Intermediate teacher John Colford implemented distance-learning technology to keep him connected to his peers and curriculum.

Every day, Steven used the communications software Skype to virtually connect with his class from his bedside during their morning meetings. At these meetings, which serve as important tool for students to build recall and life skills, students review their “business cards,” describe the weather and highlight subject areas. In addition to watching and listening to lessons, Steven was also included in the activities of the day and actively participated during instruction by responding to questions.

In addition, Steven was able to enjoy read-aloud time three times a week when the school librarian visited the classroom and read a story to him and his classmates. Web chats also facilitated the fifth-grader’s connection to his peers, teachers and staff.

“It’s very clear to see the spirit that Steven brings to the dynamics of the class,” said Mr. Colford. “The students loved interacting with him through Skype. It also allowed him to be included and to not fall behind simply because he is at home.”

To supplement classroom lessons, Mr. Colford sent home worksheets to Steven, who also received two hours of instruction from a teacher every night, along with his speech and physical therapies. Steven returned to school in early January and seamlessly re-entered class thanks to the use of technology as an educational portal.  

At right, John F. Kennedy Intermediate teacher John Colford utilized visual props during a Skype session with a student, whose classmates completed the same lesson simultaneously from their desks.