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COVID - 19

It's been a crazy month or so. The world has shut down. Life is not normal. De Beau Microschool is half normal. How can that be? Half normal?

Remember that I have completed my graduate level work at Lamar University earning a Master of Education in Digital Learning and Leading degree. One of the courses required that I build a course in a digital platform, Schoology. In just a few short weeks, I built a course for sixth grade science, cover to cover. The course included reading passages, videos to add depth to the reading, individual COVA projects, reflection, quizzes, and tests. I enjoyed building that course! Once the course was completed, I started building out other courses in Schoology. Prior to the COVID-19 shut down, all junior high history, health, and science courses were built in Schoology and students were working in those digital formats. Because students are allowed to work at their own pace, one junior high student was ready to begin a high school science course. As a result, I had already begun to build that particular course.

Once the shut down was announced in Louisiana, things had to rapidly change for our elementary students. Working 10-12 hour days for 8 days, my team and I were able to build out the elementary courses online. Now, these elementary courses are not cover to cover like the junior high and high school. We built from where the students were in the book to the back cover. Because we read to all students until the end of fifth grade, we recorded a teacher reading the passage. The video is embedded into the course as a reading passage. The students are instructed to follow along as they listen to the video. I also made the decision to not build normal quizzes or tests for the elementary students. Instead, we built mini quizzes. Those quizzes are less than 10 questions, and only pertain to the reading passage that they just read.

Math is a different animal for digital learning for little ones. It's more challenging for them. We have learned to overcome that challenge with the help of FaceTime and Zoom. We connect with the students several days per week to discuss material, teach new material, and assign problems. Once the work is complete, students will text a photo of the completed work, or will FaceTime/Zoom their teacher to check for errors. Once the unit is complete, the student will be assigned to take the next math quiz or test. Photos of the completed quiz or test will be uploaded to the appropriate place in Schoology for grading.

Now that we have been working in this digital platform for a few weeks, we are all developing a new rhythm and schedule. Students are continuing to learn in the digital classrooms, and via FaceTime or Zoom. Additionally, since the stress of building many digital classrooms is over, we have begun to "back build." We are now building course work from the beginning of the book to where we started, and have begun recording the videos for those reading passages.

The stress and sense of urgency has passed. I am thankful to my team of teachers that learned how to build courses in Schoology, and they learned quickly! I am thankful that they have taken turns to record the reading passage videos. I have recorded some as well. I am thankful that my team is able to work from home while continuing to educate each student. I am thankful that we are still able to offer our customized education even through this shut down. I am thankful that I have been able to continue to pay my teachers through this shut down. I have also been able to pay my daughters to help with the videos as well. They are taking turns working the cell phone cameras. Through this shut down, I am blessed to still be able to make payroll for six people. That is significant during this history making portion of our lives. Though this is an odd and unfamiliar time, and we are adjusting to new rhythms and schedules, I appreciate that I am living through a significant historical event in our state, national, and global history. It will be interesting to see how our future history books will explain this historical event.

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