Teachers encourage students to communicate on virtual days

Students and teachers participated in two remote learning days Monday,Nov. 23 and Tuesday, Nov. 24 before Thanksgiving break. Only to find out it would be extended to the following week, Monday, Nov. 30 through Friday, Dec. 4. Teachers provide videos and Zoom meetings for students to get help.  

“Remote Learning days are designed to provide opportunities for students with the opportunity to learn asynchronously and synchronously,” principal Dr. Paul Griep said. 

An example of asynchronous learning would be live instruction through Zoom or Google Meetings. While synchronous learning would be assignments posted on Google Classroom with videos or Google slides for reference. That way students can work when they need to. 

I suggested two to three assignments per teacher, per week, I realize that some may need more and others less,” Griep said. “This spring, we started off AMI by giving an assignment per class, per day. Students were working 10+ hours a day on homework. That was too much.” 

AMI and remote learning days are not the same. Back in the Spring during AMI, teachers were not allowed to teach new material. During remote learning teachers can continue to teach new material. 

English teacher Amy Martfeld held a Zoom for her students. She created breakout rooms during their Zoom to discuss the short story assigned for the week. 

“I’ve never been the host for them [breakout rooms] and they worked really well,” Martfeld said. “The students were able to kind of talk about the story and learn from each other and ask questions before we came back to the big group.” 

According to Martfeld, it was good for time management. Since students were able to talk and ask questions before coming to the big group. 

Math teacher Sandra Temple used Zoom for students to ask questions. 

“Zooms are difficult because right now with kids, even in class, they’re not comfortable speaking,” Temple said. “They don’t really get on Zooms to like want to be taught. They want to come to ask questions.” 

Zooms are not required during remote learning days. Teachers are also not required to take attendance during remote learning days. 

“I believe that it was important for students to attend Zoom since we provided live instruction,” Griep said. “It only amounted to about three hours per day. I realize that some could not attend due to various reasons. I did not require attendance to be taken due to the fact that students could learn asynchronously and synchronously. I realize that some teachers did take attendance as a way to measure student participation. I provided that flexibility, however, I did not mandate it.”

Temple also provided detailed videos. She thought about questions the students might have in order to better create videos for them. GoGuardian was also open from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. so students could message her through that easily. Zooms were there for students who wanted help through Zoom. 

“So I tried to make sure that they know that I’m going to watch,” Temple said. “I am going to communicate and I need them to communicate back.” 

Although she did not care what day the students completed their assignments, she wanted them done by the end of the week. 

Martfeld enjoyed the schedule for the virtual learning week. She liked that Wednesday was an asynchronous day. She used it to catch up on work. 

“That Wednesday, where we were all just kind of working on what we needed to, I got a lot done,” Martfeld said. “I got a lot of grading done that had been pushed to the side because I just haven’t had time with, teaching kids here (at school) and trying to keep kids at home lined out too.” 

She believes it was easier to teach one group of students rather than the students at school and the students at home. 

“I sat in on nearly two dozen zoom meetings,” Griep said. “I am proud of how our teachers prepared and delivered instruction.”