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Distance learning brings MMC students and HNS students together

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Hartington — The school closure due to COVID 19 has not hampered the learning collaboration between Jackie Steffen, Extension Educator with Nebraska Extension who is working with Mount Marty College preservice teachers, and a group of first graders in Monica Kathol’s class at Hartington-Newcastle Public Schools.  

In February, a pilot partnership between Monica’s first grade class and Jackie’s college level, children’s literature class began.  This collaboration allows first graders the opportunity to practice their reading skills with another adult who is attentive to their individual needs, provides reading feedback, and asks compelling questions.  

HNPS students meet with their Mount Marty reading buddy bi-weekly for long distance reading sessions using Google Hangout.  The first graders email their reading buddy at the beginning of the week to inform them of the book they are practicing.  Preservice teachers develop mini lessons focusing on reading strategies and skills they are learning in their college course.  On Thursday mornings, the reading buddies connect, device-to-device, for a 20-minute reading session.  Following each session, Mount Marty pre-service teachers email Monnica Kathol with individual feedback about her student’s reading and comprehension.

The benefits to this program are tremendous.   It has been a great way for pre-service teachers to practice matching just right books with a child’s reading ability and interests.  It has helped all students involved to learn to use social media in a positive, educational way.  It has also taught everyone how to problem-solve and think creatively in regards to building relationships and fostering a love for reading.

“As a preservice teacher, this has been a great way to work through a virtual classroom situation,” Mount Marty student, Gabriel Hutchison, said, “I love to create lesson plans but it is even better to create them and use them with real students.”