Minnesota Kindergarteners benefit from Alternative Program Outreach
Robertson County Alternative Program students are having an impact on kindergarten students in southeastern Minnesota through an innovative cooperative between RCAP teacher Eric Turner and Triton Elementary teacher Kory Graham, whose classroom is just west of Rochester.
Through Skype technology, Turner's students are able to be seen by, and read to an audience of kindergarten students 750 miles away in real time, helping to both educate and motivate the young learners. Graham has utilized others to read to her children, but the RCAP connection is the only one that plugs students in to reading to students.
The connection between RCS and Triton Public Schools began last summer when the two teachers connected through an educational forum and had it's first online application in the fall of 2014 when the first RCAP students began reading. Since then, Turner says he's had about a half dozen of his students participating in the outreach.
On Thursday, Jan. 22, Kallie Bagwell became the first middle school student to read to the MN classroom, holding their attention for approximately a quarter of an hour. Turner says the opportunities and advantages of this program are on both ends of the connection.
"One thing this program does is show our students that they matter," he said. "It has given our students a chance to reach out to others in a meaningful way. We hope to show them that they can make a positive contribution and an impact on others.
"As far as the students they are reading to; those students get to interact with older students doing good things and get read to, which increases their literacy. They are in a poor rural district and apparently don't have too many who can come in and read to them from the local area. The program also helps them with geography because they find out about the area where the person is from who is reading to them."
Turner sums the program by noting the win-win it provides.
"I've seen huge smiles on our students' faces after they read and you can see the impact it makes on them. They've done something fun and helped others. They've given to others and got something out of it in return."