A new partnership between PBS member station WTCI, Hamilton County Schools and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga School of Education is intended to reduce learning gap effects of COVID-19 on students in the school system.
Students from the School of Education have been putting together and recording lessons to be broadcast on the new WTCI Educate channel, available on EPB Channel 304 and TV antenna channel 45.4. Through May, students will record the programs, which will be available for spring, summer and fall semesters 2021.
Specific lessons will be created for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and focus on literacy and math skills. Most segments will run six to 12 minutes, but some may be as long as 24 minutes.
Working with the school system and the TV station is a win-win for UTC students, said Kendra Duncan, the liaison between UTC and its other partners in the program.
“That’s the beauty of it all, that our UTC students are moving outside their UTC classrooms and courses and working directly with community members to address a real problem—the K-12 learning loss due to COVID-19 and public school closures,” she said.
At UTC, Duncan is coordinator for the edTPA—Educative Teacher Performance Assessment—the certification exam taken by student teachers in their final semesters of college. They must pass the exam to teach in the state of Tennessee.
Students enrolled in the Tyner Institute for Teaching and Learning—a program sponsored by the UTC School of Education and Hamilton County Schools— also are recording content for the channel.
UTC professors are working with School of Education students to research and plan their segments. From there, virtual meetings will be held with officials in the WTCI production department to discuss the best ways to present the lessons on TV.
The segments are meant to supplement regular lessons, not replace them. Once enough lessons are recorded, the project will provide up to 12 hours of local, state and national lessons and instruction a day to reinforce and/or enrich students classroom learning.
“This was created to be a collaborative space that not only amplifies the great educators and talented students in our community, but ensures that all students in our four-state viewing area, regardless of their access to digital technology, have access to free, standards-aligned education programming and opportunities,” said Alea Tveit, education outreach coordinator at WTCI.
During the pandemic, schools in Hamilton County have been fully closed at one time, then transitioned to a hybrid schedule, with in-person teaching some days and online teaching for others. Educators worry that students will fall behind. Duncan describes the learning gap as “significant.”
“Even though HCS schools have re-opened, some parents have opted for their children to continue to access learning remotely due to medical conditions that might put family members at higher risk or aging family members in the home,” she said.
“UTC recordings can provide re-teaching opportunities to reinforce key concepts that were covered by the HCS teacher. Or they will also provide enrichment opportunities for K-12 students to learn more about the content covered by their teacher.”
Physical Education majors and students in the Master of Public Health program will record “brain break” segments that “support our community to engage in healthy behaviors as family, friends and neighbors,” said Shewanee Howard-Baptiste, interim director for the Master in Public Health.
The breaks will include yoga, breakfast tips, posture, bike safety, dental care and many other activities. “These breaks will offer ways for children to become physically and academically engaged during our six-minute spots,” according to Jamie Harvey, K-12 program coordinator in Health and Physical Education.