Educators at Alleghany County Public Schools (ACPS), a PreK-12 district in a rural area of Virginia, have been working tirelessly to meet the needs of their students during the 2020-21 school year. Like many schools across the country, they’re facing tremendous challenges as a result of the pandemic, and in response, they’re doing everything they can to ensure learning is accessible to every student. Part of this has included using TpT School Access, the school-funded subscription that gives teachers access to a catalog of over 3 million resources and digital tools to support instruction in every learning environment.
Seeking to better understand how ACPS is responding to this year’s challenges, we spoke to Kelly Huff, Director of Secondary Instruction for the district, and Tracie Buchanan-Porter, a special education and math teacher. Here’s what they shared.
Adapting to support hybrid learning at Alleghany County Public Schools
ACPS is making every effort to continue student learning — providing instruction through a hybrid learning model in which teachers are juggling both in-person and remote instruction at the same time. “I might have four kids in my classroom, but then I still have four kids at home watching me through Google Meet,” explained Tracie. To add to this, ACPS also provides a fully remote option to students and families, and those who’ve elected this option are able to receive in-person academic support after school if needed. In order to support these instructional models, ACPS is relying on a number of learning management systems, including Canvas at the elementary schools, Google Classroom in middle school, and Echo in high school.
Along the way, the district has faced a number of challenges, and they’ve had to problem solve quickly and creatively in response. For example, because they’re located in a rural area, to ensure their students have access to the internet, they’ve provided students with wireless hotspots and placed wifi access points into school buses around the district. Additionally, if any students have not been participating in remote learning, the school will conduct wellness checks to ensure those students and families get the support they need. “We’re just trying every which way to provide what we can,” explained Kelly.
Using TpT School Access in an ever-changing, increasingly digital educational landscape
One way school leaders at ACPS have been able to support teachers is with TpT School Access. By bringing TpT School Access to their campuses, ACPS has given their teachers anytime, anywhere access to a library of over 3 million PreK-12 resources, and they’ve empowered teachers with digital tools to enhance their in-person, online, and hybrid instruction. What do Kelly and Tracie think have been the results of that decision during the pandemic? Here’s what they shared.
1) ACPS teachers across grades and subjects are turning to TpT School Access for standards-aligned resources.
No matter what they’re teaching, educators at ACPS have found resources on TpT School Access to meet their needs — from a 14-day Romeo and Juliet unit plan for secondary English, to distance learning activities for an Intro to Sports Medicine class. Entire departments have also used TpT School Access to align on the curriculum and materials they use. For example, the high school math department uses curricula from Gina Wilson of All Things Algebra, which is aligned to the Virginia Standards of Learning. “The Algebra teachers are using a curriculum from TpT that was created by a teacher from Virginia Beach, and it follows our end of course standards,” explained Tracie. “During the Spring closure, TpT was a lifesaver for myself and others in the Math Department.”
When considering their budget for instructional materials, Kelly has brought teachers from different departments together to understand what resources would best support them. Even after vetting and evaluating different textbooks, she’s found that more and more of her teachers would prefer to use resources from TpT School Access instead. “It just kept coming back — the teachers were like, ‘We love TpT, we want TpT.’ So we got rid of a bunch of other contracts,” she explained.
2) TpT School Access has supported the transition to digital learning at ACPS.
Tracie also noted that she and other teachers have been able to use the digital tools available on TpT School Access. For example, she and other teachers have turned to TpT Digital Activities, which allow teachers to turn many of the static PDF resources they already trust into interactive, editable materials for students to complete on their own devices. They’ve used these resources for online learning in Algebra, Trigonometry, and Anatomy and Physiology. Additionally, when it comes to sending resources to students learning remotely, ACPS educators have found it easy to use TpT School Access with their learning management systems. Whether they’re using Echo, Google Classroom, or Canvas, “Teachers can just pull stuff down, share it right to their classrooms,” explained Kelly.
For additional reflections from Kelly and TpT’s VP of Content Michelle Cummings on how administrators can think about selecting digital tools for their teachers click here.
3) By providing TpT School Access, school leaders at ACPS are helping teachers save time.
In response to the pandemic, teachers have had to devote significant time to adapting their lessons and materials for a new and more digital learning model. However, school leaders at ACPS have relieved some of this burden by providing their teachers with TpT School Access. “What my teachers have said again and again about TpT is it’s a one stop shop,” said Kelly. “They’re not out there for hours trying to dig up resources, dig up project ideas, or dig up a lesson plan. They just know they can go there, and in five to ten minutes, get what they need.” ACPS teachers aren’t the only ones who’ve saved time this year with TpT School Access. In a 2020 survey of over 9,500 teachers using TpT School Access, educators said their subscriptions saved them three hours on average every week. With TpT School Access, teachers are able to turn to reliable, ready-made resources from experienced educators, rather than recreating the wheel for every lesson. Ultimately, this means they can spend more time where it matters most: with students.
During the 2020-21 school year, there have been little to no clear answers about how to best support students, teachers, and school communities. Yet uncertainty has not stopped Alleghany County Public Schools from pursuing an ambitious hybrid learning model and doing everything they can to teach their students. They’re consistently coming up with solutions to the challenges they’re facing, including using the resources and digital tools on TpT School Access to enhance instruction across grades and subjects. With all the ways they’ve adapted this year, ACPS educators have demonstrated just how committed they are to serving their students and community. “I feel blessed because the teachers are in there getting it done,” expressed Kelly.
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