Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Adapting to the times

Ruston teacher highlights distance learning
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
Article Image Alt Text

Courtesy photo

Ruston Elementary School teacher Kate Henriques prepares to read a book aloud for a live video on the school’s Facebook page in an effort to encourage students to read while schools are closed due to coronavirus concerns.

As schools across the state continue their month-long closure in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Lincoln Parish educators have been making efforts to help keep students engaged and learning through digital means during the downtime.

In addition to a collection of online resources compiled by the school district at, teachers like Kate Henriques are adding a personal touch.

Henriques, a fourth grade English and social studies teacher at Ruston Elementary School, has been recording herself reading books aloud and other educational activities and posting the videos to the RES Facebook page for students to watch.

“I’ve done some read-alouds of different books, some related to the curriculum I was teaching before this all went down,” Henriques said. “I’ve also read the first chapter of a couple chapter books and encouraged kids to use different websites that have read-alouds on them.”

One such website is “Epic!” a digital library with learning videos and audio books for elementary school children. Like many similar resources, Epic! is offering free home access to families for the duration of the coronavirus closures.

“We’re trying to encourage people to use the different platforms that we use at school now that they’re open to the public,” Henriques said.

Parents can find a tutorial video on the RES Facebook page that Henriques made showing how to navigate the online service.

“I don’t expect parents to do things the way we do them in the classroom,” she said. “But we can make the best of our own situation. It’s important for the kids to keep learning no matter what’s going on, even if it’s just for a couple hours that day. Get them reading, thinking, talking, writing and interacting with their family.”

Henriques records videos of some books that are related to the current fourth-grade curriculum, such as mythology stories, but also encourages students to read whatever interests them.

School faculties are using education communication resources like Class Dojo and even video messaging apps like Marco Polo to stay in contact with students and families.

Henriques said she would encourage parents across the parish to contact their school, find out what services they’re using, and sign their students up.

“My son’s French teacher has been able to talk to us on (Marco Polo),” she said. “So she’s speaking French and having conversations with him like they would in the classroom. It has really been amazing to see the different teachers across the parish offering up their time and resources to help out. It’s been beautiful even while it’s a stressful time.”

Schools are currently slated to return to class on April 13. The public school district is encouraging students to take advantage of distance learning, but not requiring it.

“We can’t take grades on any of this,” Henriques said. “We can just hope they’re building their background knowledge, which will ultimately help them down the road.”