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Poland educators use conference call app for lessons

March 25, 2020
Ashley Fox , The Town Crier

Educators with the Poland Local School District have taken creative measures to make sure their students are learning outside the classroom.

Intervention specialists Mary Hernon and Jenn Hudak work with students in grades K-2 at Poland Union Elementary.

Once mandates were set closing schools statewide last week because of the coronavirus, the education field jumped into action to prepare for weeks of remote schooling.

The Poland crew decided to use an app called Zoom, which allows for conference video calls.

"The biggest part of it is motivating them because we do a whole lesson," Hernon said.

That doesn't mean the challenge hasn't been interesting.

"The fun part of it is, it's just been so creative for us both," Hernon said.

Last week, for example, Hudak used various masks, such as Spiderman, during some calls to keep students engaged.

"I just keep an assortment of masks," Hudak said. "It's just to get their attention and to think it's fun. We're still learning but we're having fun."

Toward the end of the first week, Hernon said students were adjusting well enough that more time was spent learning.

Working into a routine, Hudak said the parents have been fabulous, working on schedules so the kids are in a groove daily. One aspect of the virtual learning has been students eager to show their rooms and pets to their teachers.

"They want to show us all around," Hudak said.

For the teachers, it is a little difficult because the traditional setting is not in use.

"It's an adjustment for everyone," Hudak said.

Keeping true to some sort of routine with the Zoom app is Nancy Moon, fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at McKinley Elementary School.

"They like to see us, they like to talk. You can't replace that face-to-face interaction," Moon said. "The kids love it, so that's what I've been using."

Students have been able to use the app to ask questions and hold conversations, Moon said, to try to make this unusual situation as normal as she possibly can.

The students are used to seeing everyone in the school setting daily and for a lot of them, that's their comfort zone. Being able to see each other gives kids a sense of comfort during a confusing time, according to Moon.

The ability to virtually connect in a live stream allows students to ask questions such as, "are you afraid of the virus" and "do you think we're going to go back to school?"

"I'm trying to do the best I can to serve them in the best way that I can," which is assisted by the app, Moon said.

While they enjoy the app as a creative solution, Hernon and Hudak said it is difficult being away from their students.

"It's nice seeing their faces on screen, but it's not the same as being there in a classroom," Hudak said.

All three educators agreed that the support from parents and administration have made the transition into a nontraditional setting as seamless as possible.

"This aspect of it, using the Zoom, makes it a tiny bit easier because you still do get to see them. For now, it'll suffice," Hudak said.



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