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Teachers share ideas during shutdown

Although the Coronavirus shutdown prevented a group meeting, April 29 was the date scheduled for the 10th Annual Kump Education Center Seminar, and one excellent Davis & Elkins College student sent her abstract online. The rest of our presenters talked with me on the telephone.

Skylee Watson focused her teacher work sample on teaching one of the WV College-and-Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics. She taught second grader students to tell time to the nearest five minutes using hands-on learning activities. Her research abstract made me wonder how she helped 7-year old students who are accustomed to digital clocks learn to use analog clocks.

Three Elkins High School teachers are members of Kump Education Center Board of Directors: Andrew Carroll teaches English, KJ Shaffer teaches math, and Amanda Sacks teaches social studies. I asked them to give me some ideas that could be helpful to teachers and parents who are using the internet during the Coronavirus shutdown.

Mr. Carroll thinks that teachers need to plan well in advance for good online learning assignments. The actual class time does not have to be the same for all students if the assignment is clear and if students have good basic skills as well as the motivation to work on their own. Mr. Carroll favors “on-demand” internet learning opportunities that can be done when the student has time to do the work. For example, reading Romeo and Juliet might be assigned and students would summarize or answer questions on each act of the play. Then they would watch a Taylor Swift video and write a comparison of words in the song and lines in the play that reflect on romantic love. For advanced students who take responsibility for their own learning, such ideas will work well.

However, Mr. Shaffer teaches math to students who need more teacher support. He uses Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams to help structure his lessons and be sure he teaches the required math objectives. Randolph County has a subscription to Teams, and all students have access to it as members. It is possible for groups to come together on Zoom. Mr. Shaffer says teachers can do almost anything they would do in class. Teachers can post assignments for the whole class online, and students can post their answers. If need be, the teacher can give personal attention by sending a post to one student at a time.

Hilary Ramsey, who coordinates educational technology for Randolph County, pointed out to me that 40% – 50% of students in this county do not have access to high speed internet from home.

They may not have a device or a way to connect to high speed internet providers from their remote rural homes.

Ms. Ramsey believes it would take a million dollars to get every student on line.

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