Online Learning

Laurel+Henderson+hosts+a+Zoom+read+aloud+for+the+10th-grade+memoir+unit.

Laurel Henderson

Laurel Henderson hosts a Zoom read aloud for the 10th-grade memoir unit.

Satya Baca-Gomberg, Staff Writer

TELLURIDE–Ever since the stay-at-home order that started March 16, students of the Telluride Middle High school and across the globe have begun a new kind of learning.

Instead of waking up at a whopping 6 or 7 a.m. to get to school, students can sleep in and attend Zoom classes.

Using Powerschool, Google classroom, and Schoology, has certainly shifted the way everyone does school.  Middle and high school students are now faced with assignments that can be completed more independently and are less interactive in nature.  And everyone is doing their best.

Keeping track of who is attending online school and how to help those students who might not be keeping up with assignments has presented itself as a challenge.

 “We want to make sure kids are learning and sometimes we don’t hear from kids and we worry,” Sara Kimble, Telluride Middle High School principal, said.

Virtual communication is the only thing that is keeping teachers connected to students and vise versa. 

Curriculums have also changed over the eight weeks of online learning.  Now, instead of having hands on learning, teachers must come up with ideas for students to find success with less teacher instruction. 

Bonnie Emerick, THS English teacher, is one of two 10th-grade-English teachers.  She and Laurel Henderson started a memoir unit when Telluride School District moved online.

“In English, we just started a creative writing unit where we are writing poems and memoirs about our own lives,” Emerick said.   

When she was back in her classroom, Emerick said she would share poetry, find it in the world and look for it  in music.  She said she has tried to keep as much of her original assignments as possible.

“We’re doing similar assignments online as we would be doing in the classroom: we’re reading and writing poems, talking about music as poetry, and we’re studying poetry terms and definitions,” Emerick said.

Without school being in building, some students might find it harder to stay motivated, since there is a lot more freedom and the burden to focus is mostly on the students. 

“The biggest challenges about online schooling mostly center around time and motivation,” said Emerick.  “With online schooling, it’s a little challenging to keep students motivated. I try to make assignments interesting online, but if we were in the classroom, our discussions about the assignments would be part of the motivation.  There is nobody holding our feet to the fire.”

Emerick also said online teaching makes it more difficult to cover material.

“In terms of time, I think that it’s more difficult to cover the material we need to cover online, so I have to parse it down to the absolute core essentials,” Emerick said.

There is a missing social aspect to online learning as well.

“It is very difficult socially distancing and personally distancing ourselves from our peers and friends at this time,” said Emerick.  “School is a great place to see friends, learn, and socialize but now that has changed.”

As we enter the last three instructional days of school, one thing is clear, educational institutions will not soon forget the challenges presented and the new lessons learned as a result of teaching eight and a half weeks from home. 

Students and teachers alike are asked to find motivation and put their own feet to the fire in order for life’s next steps.