Developing K-5 programming was always a part of Launch’s plan—the COVID-19 pandemic moved it up on the timeline.
"Once the pandemic began, we realized pretty quickly that there would be a need for a full-time elementary learning option across the state,” says Dr. Meghan Roe, Launch’s Coordinator of Course Development. “We were confident that our Launch option would be better than any for-profit options and the best for Missouri students. We quickly readjusted our development schedule and hired additional staff to build out our K-5 content.”
BUILDING CULTURE ONLINE
“It was really important for us to find a way to help our teachers build a sense of community in their virtual classrooms,” says Assistant Principal Helen Williams. “We know that when kids are making connections, they’re more likely to log on.” Live small group and full class lessons and constant teacher interaction helps this happen. “Yesterday I had a teacher tell me that she feels more connected with her students this year than she did in her seated classroom,” Williams says. “That really says a lot.”
FROM CONCEPT TO COURSES
Launch hired two full-time elementary teachers who would also work as curriculum advisors. These teachers/advisors worked with Springfield Public Schools curriculum coordinators and Launch digital developers to build out K-5 course content. The content is reviewed by a Launch Quality Assurance Specialist before being published.
“We’ve been able to have real-time feedback on our elementary courses, which has been extremely helpful,” says Williams. As the Launch developers continue writing elementary courses, they’re in constant contact with the teachers and curriculum directors and taking feedback from students, parents and districts into account. “This structure has been very beneficial, because we’re able to make changes on-the-fly,” Williams says.
After researching how to best engage K-5 learners online, the team determined that Launch elementary courses needed a conceptual theme. The development and creative teams worked together to make K-5 classes navigable with a space theme. When K-5 learners log on they meet “The Rocketeers,” three animated students aboard the International Launch Station (pictured left). They continue to complete “missions” each day, and “voyages” break up their content in easy-to-consume blocks.