Equipping students—and their caregivers—with digital resources
| By Shelley Hunsaker, district elementary media specialist, Lincoln County School District #2, Afton, Wyoming |
A media specialist’s life is ever changing, especially with the challenges of the last school year. While my number one focus is students, this past year, I’ve seen a greater need to connect with their caregivers as well. While their resilience has been incredible to experience, there are no doubt families that need our continued support.
I’m the district elementary media specialist for Lincoln County School District #2 in Afton, Wyoming. Collaborating with Maggon Osmond, who’s the district secondary media specialist, we’re tasked with familiarizing staff and students with using Gale’s e-learning resources. Many of these tools are provided by the state of Wyoming through gowyld.net. In addition, a few years ago Maggon purchased Gale eBooks to support the accelerated reading program at the middle schools, and I piloted the use of K-5 eBooks from Gale in one of our five elementary schools. This is what really began driving usage within our district.
Currently, our district is one of the highest users of Gale In Context: Elementary within all Wyoming K-12 schools. In the 2020-21 school year, the number of Gale In Context: Elementary sessions district-wide increased by 11 percent compared to last school year. And at one elementary school, the number of sessions increased by over 400 percent this school year!
A Focus on Families
While the numbers above are something to celebrate, it’s what we’re able to do with these resources that matters most. A little over a month ago, a tearful, worried parent reached out to me asking for help with her two children. She was unaware of the Gale resources that we have available in our district and didn’t realize her kids could access them online. I set up a Zoom meeting to share my screen and walk her through the use of Gale In Context: Elementary as well as our K-5 eBook collections. I showed how her children could use these kid-friendly tools to find answers to their questions and practice their research skills. Both of her kids are emergent readers, so she loved that there was an audio component to these resources and that the words were highlighted while being read out loud. Her tears of frustration stopped, and a wave a relief washed over her.
Since I first spoke with that mom and shared how to use Gale resources, her children have continued to improve. One of her kids recently met her Accelerated Reader goals and has a newfound confidence in herself. What an incredible accomplishment for the student—and her mother. This is why I do what I do.
These kids are just two of the 380 students in one of my elementary schools, but they are important to me, and Gale truly was the answer for this family. I’m excited to expand our K-5 eBook offering as an added resource for my entire student population, but especially for these two children.
Children learn best when there are fewer barriers to learning. And now, with K-5 eBooks available within the Gale In Context: Elementary platform, it’s even easier for kids to access all of their elementary resources in one place. Request a demo of Gale in Context: Elementary—and the added power of eBooks—to learn how this resource helps put young learners first.