Education & Agriculture

laptopMadden Ross of New Baden uses a laptop to speak to his first-grade teacher, Kim Haake, via the videoconferencing app Zoom. (Photo by Kelly Jo Ross)    Teachers are getting creative as schools are being forced out of another week of learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    With all Illinois schools shut down through at least April 7, teachers are finding ways to reach out to their students, including using the videoconferencing app Zoom.
    Kim Haake, a first-grade teacher at New Baden Elementary, said that she has been following social media First Grade Groups since the school closures and many teachers were talking about using Zoom to connect with their students.
    "Many of them commented that it was very user-friendly and their students really enjoyed seeing each (of the students) and it gave them a sense of normalcy," she said. "Honestly it meant as much to me as it did for the kids. I absolutely loved seeing their smiling faces and that they were all doing OK."
    For now, she plans to use the site to touch base with her students. 
    "Depending on how long we are out, I may consider it for further educational instruction," Haake said.
    Jen Ahle, an eighth-grade teacher at Breese Elementary District 12, said that she tried the Zoom app last Tuesday afternoon for one of her classes and was excited to see her students. 
    "I wanted to hear their voices and see their face," she said. "It's been so long."
    Ahle, an English and Language Arts teacher, said that her class was in the middle of a novel before schools were shut down due to the coronavirus crisis.

    Central Community High School has moved on to the next level of its eLearning program, as schools remain closed due to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's mandate of March 13 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
    Superintendent Dr. Dustin Foutch and principal Ryan Ketchum laid out the details last week in a YouTube presentation.
    Tuesday, March 31 is when students and faculty advanced to the school's Phase 2 of its eLearning program full time.
    Foutch asked for the patience of the students and parents as the school moves forward with the plan.
    "Our teachers have been asked to create an entirely new learning platform that they've had only one week to prepare," he said.
    Foutch said he's seen a lot of the lessons, adding, "I cannot be prouder of their [the faculty's] work" in implementing the program.
    He said while mistakes will be made, they will learn from those and grow in their development.
    Ketchum said that they are entering "an extremely unfamiliar education situation and your teachers, administrators — all the people that help you on a daily basis — we're all in this together."
    He said the understanding is that they are "embracing a new approach to full-time teaching and learning."
    Anyone with questions is urged to contact their teachers via email or Google Classroom.
    So what does the platform look like? For attendance, students must check in to their first-hour teachers' Google Classroom by 3 p.m. each day Monday through Friday. 
    This is so they can be counted present for the academic day. Failure to do so is an unexcused absence.
    After check-in, students are to look for daily announcements.
    When it comes to the curriculum, Ketchum said students will be directed by their individual teachers within departments regarding curriculum requirements for their courses.

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