School days

Madison County schools adjust to remote teaching
“Probably the most important thing right now is to let students know that we care about them, miss seeing them in class every day, and we are here to support them in any way possible,” Nordahl, Twin Bridges High School Math teacher, said.

Madison County schools have been closed for three weeks due to the coronavirus. Gov. Steve Bullock extended the closures to April 24 on Tuesday.

Teachers, students and parents are adjusting to new schedules and means of K-12 education. Madison County’s students are completing their course load from home in a plethora of ways. Communication has been key in continuing the school year during the pandemic.

“We’re blessed to have technology right now to continue teaching our students,” Harrison first and second grade teacher Kathleen Jorgenson said.

Jorgenson has been teaching for 32 years. In a COVID-19 free world, she values a face-to-face education in the elementary classroom. Technology is one of her many teaching tools, but never as much as in the last three weeks.

Elementary students tend to require a lot of assistance to do most things especially schoolwork. Jorgenson praised her parents’ positive approach in assisting the process. But she spends a good portion of her days on Facetime, teaching her 13 students one- on-one.

“This is not an easy time,” Jorgenson said. “We’re not really home schooling, we’re crisis schooling.”

Madison County’s elementary students are being taught primarily through weekly packets, which are returned to teachers to be graded. Harrison’s first and second graders are learning measurements. Pieces of string and rulers were included in Jorgenson’s packets.

“Getting them everything they need, so they can do what is expected of them is very important,” Jorgenson said.

By high school, technology has been integrated into student education. High school students are more capable of using technology to complete their schoolwork. Teenagers might not always admit they need help, which makes available assistance for high school students during school closures crucial.

Most high schools are using online platforms like Google Classroom to post lessons for their students. Twin Bridges’ high school math teacher Brett Nordahl posts weekly lessons on Google Classroom. The lessons include assignments and video instructions.

Twin Bridges High School teachers have also designated times to meet with their classes on Google Hangout. Most Madison County high schools have arranged times to meet with their classes digitally.

“It has been nice to talk with the students in real time and check in with them face- to-face,” Nordahl said. “We are lucky to have smaller class sizes, which has allowed me to have contact with 100% of my students.”

Though students are not confined inside the walls of formal education, school is still in session. Sheridan Schools’ music and drama teacher, Anthony Johnson, made a weekly Google Hangout mandatory for his students. The few families without internet access are excused and other accommodations have been made.

Sheridan School’s spring production of Clue and the District Music Festivals were canceled due to the coronavirus. The performing arts class will not produce a recreation of Travel Channel’s Ghost Hunters for people to enjoy on the school’s website. Johnson’s performing arts class instead made video diaries of a day in the life of quarantine. See some examples on The Madisonian's Facebook page later this week. Sheridan School teachers arranged a parade to drive by students’ homes March 26. Students stood on lawns and porches to wave to their teachers. The idea came from social media, and Dillion Schools followed suit.

“We wanted to show them, we know you’re there and we care,” Johnson said.

Jorgenson continues to read to her first and second graders every day. She records and posts the video on Wakelet. ea95b5d5-3f2a-44fc-8973- d53bc37ffbe0

“Probably the most important thing right now is to let students know that we care about them, miss seeing them in class every day, and we are here to support them in any way possible,” Nordahl said.

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