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Navigating online learning with grandma

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Linda Myers is the great-grandmother of a kindergartener in a Thurston County grade school. When the child’s mother had to be hospitalized recently, Myers became this child's "at-home teacher" for a week and a half, adding to her role of full time teacher for her fourteen-year-old grandson. Each child had their own laptops and studied online in different rooms. 

Myers’ great-granddaughter was using the school district’s K –12 online program which allows the children and teacher to interact with each other on screen. The children can see and chat with their friends as well as with their teacher. This program provides much needed socialization during their class time. Myers was pleasantly surprised how quickly her great-granddaughter learned she had to click on the microphone icon to speak to others in her class.

The curriculum was designed to keep the kindergarten students engaged with occasional exercises, dances and wiggling.  Certain sounds were used to alert the children to hop or skip when the music played. “The teacher was very good at noticing when the children needed to move,” Myers explained.  The class also enjoyed 'pajama day' and 'costume day.’  

The kindergarteners did get tired, Myers said, even though their school day was very short. The daily schedule consisted of one hour of screen time, followed by one hour of free time, followed by one more hour of screen time to end the day.

Myers' great-granddaughter did have some navigational problems with her homework. “The instructions were not clear on where to go first and where to go next. Worksheets on the computer had to be filled in to be completed.” Myers explained. “Capital letters and cursors were used simultaneously. It was too much for those little hands.” Myers resolved this by having her great-granddaughter answer the problem and then entering it on the screen for her.

Myers’ 14-year-old grandson, who is in junior high school, did not have similar issues. He was very comfortable with the online classes and required little help. His problem with online learning was different.

After several days of zipping through his classes he announced, “I’m not doing this anymore!” The isolation he was feeling was affecting his work and attitude toward his classwork. Fortunately, his school implemented a return to the classroom on a limited basis right at the time he rebelled. This revised schedule resolved his discomfort and once again he was back on track.

Luckily for her family, Myers is a retired teacher and has been computer savvy since the early 1990s. “Last week my great grandchild told her teacher she wanted to be in 'real school,' Myers said. “Her teacher expressed the same sentiment.  Hopefully soon.”

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