When students returned from Thanksgiving break on December 2, the Bellwood-Antis School District shifted to fully virtual learning for all students in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All students are required to join virtual classes that are scheduled at the same time as in-school classes.
Students haven’t been the only ones affected, however; teachers have to organize all their material for students in a way that makes it easy to do virtually.
The district shifted to one-to-one iPad use five years ago, and teachers have been developing online lessons since then, which has made the transition easier for many B-A educators.
Math teacher Mrs. Allison Stinson was asked how she prepared students for virtual learning to which she responded, “All of my classes had the opportunity to use the Modern Classrooms Project model in some capacity throughout the first 13 weeks of school. Students are also provided guided notes to help organize information and streamline the note taking process.”
Physics teacher Mrs. Alice Flarend is one of many nearly 100 B-A teachers adjusting to teaching through a screen. The transition hasn’t been bad, she said, but it changes the dynamics of class. “Depends on the class. If students are talkative and respond to my questions, then it isn’t too bad,” she said. “If they are quiet then I feel as if I am teaching to a wall. I miss the day to day conversations with my students.”
Mrs. Flarend also worked over the summer to prepare herself for virtual teaching. “This summer, I taught teachers and I worked with university people on research via Zoom so that was my learning curve,” she said. “I saw some great and ideas and poor applications of distance learning. I also tried a LOT of apps to see what could be useful.”
Mrs. Stinson is also very involved in virtual teaching, as well, and she has used work outside of her traditional classroom to prepare for this challenge.
“Last year I was able to become trained via the Modern Classrooms Project and have since become a mentor for teachers all over the US that are incorporating blended learning into their classrooms,” Mrs. Stinson said. “I create and enhance instructional videos for my students. This has allowed me to deliver the content and through the use of embedded questions, I have a good pulse on where each of my students fall on the understanding continuum and can provide extra help to students who are struggling.”
Bellwood students are in good hands with the hard working teachers that are doing everything they can to provide the best possible learning experience even in the strange circumstances. To see what virtual learning is like from a student’s perspective head over to the article titled “Virtual learning at BA: a student perspective”.