Teachers needed all the help they could get during the pandemic, and that includes robots. Yellow Medicine East Schools (YME) used grant money to buy a “Swivl” robot and accessories that made online and hybrid learning easier for teachers and students. Swivl follows a teacher and provides engaging video lessons for students in the classroom and for those learning along at home.
The grant came from the Archibald Bush Project Fund of the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation, one of Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) affiliate partners.
At YME, Swivl made an appearance in a lot of classrooms – Spanish, 1st and 4th grades, gym, band and choir – as well as a way to record lesson observations to share with principals and other educators.
Using the robot, Mr. Dylan Lindstrom could host Zoom for distance learners and move throughout the classroom to deliver lessons and design labs in his English 6, Science 6 and English/Language Arts classes. Swivl came with four wearable “trackers” that enabled small groups or individual students to participate with students in distance learning.
“It has truly opened up the classroom and allowed Mr. Lindstrom freedom of movement and a higher level of student engagement from our distance learners,” said Stacy Hinz, district distance learning coordinator for Yellow Medicine East Middle/High School. “Yellow Medicine East is so grateful for the GFACF for purchasing Swivl equipment for our teachers.”
Our region’s educators also got a helping hand from tablets designed especially for our littlest learners. Prairie Five Head Start, serving Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine counties, received a grant from SWIF’s COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund to purchase Hatch tablets for their students ages 3 to 5. The tablets are secure and could be sent home when classrooms weren’t able to meet in person, or when families had to quarantine. Each student has their own profile on the tablet to work on skills.
Special thanks to each staff member and educator in southwest Minnesota who has helped our kids through the pandemic. Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story, and you are that one in many kids’ lives. Technology certainly helps, but it can’t replace the power inside each of you!
The grants to purchase YME’s Swivl robot and the Hatch tablets for Prairie Five Community Action are part of $15.2 million in emergency grants, loans and community support SWIF has distributed during the pandemic.