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Temporary Home-Schooling: Did It Work?

posted Jan 15, 2014, 8:06 PM by Unknown user   [ updated May 9, 2014, 8:47 AM by Unknown user ]

Alisa Warren

Due to the arctic blast of snow and plummeting temperatures last week, students of Van Buren and schools around the area stayed at home, which traditionally signaled days of laziness and sleeping in. While this may still have been the case for many, staying at home did not dismiss students from the assignments that waited for them on Moodle.

Prior to the beginning of the school year, the state provided schools the opportunity to allow up to three calamity days to be waived if they have an “e-classroom” going on during the calamity days, which the Van Buren School District agreed to participate in.

High school principal Mr. Brand explained the system, saying that the state required teachers to create three emergency lesson plans prior to the school year, but Van Buren teachers were told to go a bit outside of the state guidelines, by keeping the assignments relevant rather than what he would call “busy work.”

“We twisted it around a little bit because of our technology ability,” said Brand. “We’re able to go beyond that. So instead of giving [students] emergency lesson plans that don’t fit into anything because they were written at the beginning of the school year, we use it not as a virtual lesson plan, but more of our regular day lesson so that way we just progress on.”

Freshman Justen Stall said he definitely preferred doing the e-classroom as opposed to the traditional make-up day system. “I think it was a good idea to avoid making up days in the summer,” said Stall.

Art teacher Mrs. Nye also agreed, saying it “makes it more convenient not to have to alter your schedule if you have things planned with family, such as vacations.”

And according to Brand, that was the intention. “Well, usually in the summer time once you get into the beautiful weather--not only for the kids but for the teachers as well--it’s tough to focus with more activities going on outside,” said Brand.

One thing to remember, though, is that Van Buren only has one more “e-class” calamity day left due to the state imposed limit of three. The work assigned on the Monday last week that Van Buren cancelled was only a test run of this new system, and the other two were included in the calamity days counted. That means that after one more day is surpassed, there are no more excusable calamity days, and they must be made up at the end of the year.

Brand says, though, that he will be pushing to extend these days due to the convenience, but it must be approved by the state first.

Although many students and teachers enjoyed this new system, other students like senior Robyn Flick didn’t enjoy it as much.

“Generally I thought the teachers gave more homework online than they would have if we had classes,” said Flick. She continued to say that it was difficult to self-teach much of the material, because a teacher was not available to answer questions during the learning process.

Stall also noticed that there were inconsistencies in how much work was given, depending on the classes.

“Work should not be extensive, or more than what we would do on a normal class day,” said Brand. He also said that the point of this is the flexibility and the cooperation between students and teachers, and that this was a done through a trial and error process for both sides.

Even though this was the first year that the state proposed such a system, next year will have even more changes to come. According to the Ohio Department of Education, “Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, districts that change to an hour-based schedule will no longer have calamity days. Instead, schools may schedule ‘excess’ hours above the minimum number.”

When asked about how this will affect Van Buren’s schedule next year, Brand confidently said that it should not change things. In fact, he said that while the e-class days may not be extended this year, they may be able to be done more flexibly next year due to the hour based system.

Van Buren students are always undergoing changes, and this is just one of them. The question is, was this more effective and convenient compared to making up days in the summer? Take the poll to cast a vote.