This post is part of a LitCamp Heroes series spotlighting educators and districts that are committed to empowering their students through literacy to see how they’re engaging families at home utilizing the 7 Strengths Framework.
We recently caught up with Diane Rice, Supervisor, Personalized Learning Programs at Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia, who shared some of her team’s successes with virtual summer learning. Check out the Q&A with Diane below!
Q: This has been an unprecedented year with school closures. How is your district helping students continue to learn and build their skills throughout this summer?
Diane Rice: This year, summer learning looked a bit different since we were all virtual, but we still conducted LitCamp at Home to almost double the number of striving readers from our previous years’ implementation. One of our teachers, Jennifer Fortney, had this to say:
“I have to admit, that I was very nervous at first [teaching LitCamp] virtually, but I think that it turned out great and the kids that joined on everyday enjoyed it too! I was very sad [on the last day] saying goodbye to them and they were sad too. I really liked the books that we read, and also the strengths that went along with them. Some of our favorite books were The Bully from the Black Lagoon because of all of the imagination, The Two Bobbies because it was about a dog and a cat and how they depended on each other in a difficult situation, Little Red Writing because it made us laugh and we could make connections throughout the story to Little Red Riding Hood, and also Sonia Sotomayor because the kids liked to see and hear that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.”
Middle school teacher Beth Berry shared:
“Being virtual, I had several parents and grandparents that participated with camp. One student’s grandmother participated often and on closing day, she also shared with us which book was her favorite that we read. I absolutely loved these kids. I was truly sad for [LitCamp] to end. They are so precious and were so engaged. Just like last year, I loved every minute of this program!”
Q: In your role as an educator, how has the 7 Strengths Framework impacted you and your instructional practice?
DR: Social-emotional learning has become more and more important. We collaborated with our school psychologists and implemented a team teaching approach. Each LitCamp teacher partnered with a school psychologist who attended daily Zoom meetings. This was especially helpful to facilitate the 7 Strength discussions. This was important as we were all entering the private spaces of each other’s homes. This was one of the best decisions we made, and will continue the partnership even when we return to brick and mortar.
Q: Which strengths do you think are most important right now, and which do you hope your students bring with them as they enter the new academic year in the fall?
DR: Hope is a strength that is challenged on a regular basis in the midst of this pandemic. Friendship also looks different now in our virtual, isolated environments. It’s hard to say which of the strengths is most important as all of them are life skills that apply at different times in our world. All strengths are important today!
Q: Do you have any words of advice or encouragement for fellow educators who may be seeking ways to support students at home this summer?
DR: Just do it! Although it may be a lot of work, keeping kids reading and growing into contributing citizens is one of the noblest tasks we should endure.