Students engage in online learning, events canceled
Students in the Glendale Union High School District are keeping engaged with class work on computers provided to all youths that did not have their own devices already at home.
Teachers and students are finding ways to learn while campuses are closed, including some students at Washington High School creating coloring book pages that were posted on Facebook. Band students at Sunnyslope High School, with help from their director, played the song, “Salvation is Created,” with each student on their instrument at home and broadcast together on YouTube.
The district has canceled proms, spring athletic season events and championships, and district and state testing for the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Advanced Placement (AP) tests were scheduled to be given online.
The district is still offering free grab-and-go meals for anyone ages 18 years old and younger at all of its schools from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Breakfast and lunch are delivered at the same time. To find locations, visit guhsdaz.org.
Madison Rose Lane holds parade to lift spirits
While schools around the state are closed because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Madison Rose Lane Elementary School found a creative way to support teachers and students with a parade.
The school’s physical education teacher Sarah Lawrence organized it in late March. Families with students drove by the campus and staff members held up signs they made and waved to everyone, all while keeping their social distance. It gave teachers and other staff members a chance to reassure children in-person that the school loves and supports them. The parade was in addition to the online learning opportunities using Zoom and other tools that teachers have engaged students in since the COVID-19 began.
Preschool students find shapes in teacher’s video
Madison Traditional Academy preschool teacher Angela Goard is keeping lessons moving and even incorporating a furry friend into the mix for students that are at home.
Since the Coronavirus pandemic forced schools around Arizona to close through the end of the school year, Goard has connected with her students online through Google Classroom. She has created fun learning videos including one where she walks her dog, Shadow, around her neighborhood and shows different shapes on objects including rectangles in the bricks of a wall, a circle on the wheel of a recycling bin and diamonds in a wire fence.
Goard said some of her students responded to her video by making their own videos of shapes they found in their neighborhoods.
Middle school students journal, read at home
Students may be limited in where they can travel during the COVID-19 worldwide crisis, but they are exploring other worlds through books while sharing their stories of this historic time.
Madison No. 1 Middle School seventh and eighth-grade language arts teacher Amanda Morari has asked students to write in journals about their experiences day-by-day or week-by-week during the pandemic via the Google Classroom web service. Morari said since the Coronavirus pandemic is something no one has experienced before; she wants her students to relay their journeys.
She also has asked students to read whatever they can find at home and to read to other people. Morari said her students have varying levels of reading ability but “even the most reluctant readers” have been reading at home.
“It is truly amazing to see the things my students are doing,” she said.
District superintendent reaches out to students
Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Chad Gestson posted a video on the district’s website recently saying laptops would be available for students to pick up so they may keep doing classwork online. He said he and staff members in the district missed students terribly and he knew the school closures would be especially hard for seniors, who had looked forward to graduation and proms. Gestson said in the video it was possible graduations would be held in June, July or August.
Teachers, counselors, Gestson and other staff members have been calling students every day to see how they are doing, if they have enough food to eat and need anything else to stay healthy physically and mentally. Gestson emphasized that staff members would be available to help students that needed assistance applying for college financial aid and other resources while schools are closed. He urged students to post videos and other information on social media sharing how they are learning at home with #ClosedNotClosed.
Meal services offered at eight ‘mega sites’
The Phoenix Union High School District, like others in the state, has provided free meals to youths on campuses during the closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the first two weeks of the food distribution program, the district served more than 100,000 meals. Like other districts, Phoenix Union has faced staffing challenges so starting April 20 it consolidated from 16 meal distribution locations to eight “Mega Sites” with expanded hours and new bus route stops. Students ages 18 and younger, and those up to age 21 in the Exceptional Student Services Program, may pick up meals five days a week. For a list of all the meal sites, visit phoenixunion.org/Coronavirusinfo.
Online packets help kids learn at home
While schools are closed, students can explore many different subjects at home, thanks to online resources the Washington Elementary School District has provided on its website.
The district posted many printable educational packets with lessons in reading, math and other subjects at wesdschools.org/students. In the kindergarten packets, children can write stories using prompts including “One day, I turned into a Lego person,” as well as pretending to be a shark or bear while eating snacks to practice subtraction, among many other lessons.
Fifth-grade educational packets include reading a story and answering questions about the narrator and circling the correct grammar in different sentences. There are math problems to solve including ones involving division and multiplication and determining how much greater the volume of a box is compared to another box.
The district offers educational lessons for students in grades preschool through eighth, as well as resources for gifted students and English Language Learners.
Struggling families can access resources
Recognizing that many of its families are struggling during these difficult times, the Washington Elementary School District is providing information on how to get help online.
The district said its Grab and Go Meal Program will be distributed from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday at 13 schools. Students will each receive five breakfasts and five lunches during each visit. Food bags will contain enough food to feed every children in each family. To find locations and more information about the meal program, visit wesdschools.org.
Washington Elementary School District also shared on its website that people may find resources including mental health support, employment opportunities, financial assistance, options for internet access and other needs at arizonatogether.org. Another website families may visit to find help obtaining clothing, housing, healthcare, dental treatment and other services is 211arizona.org.
Students receive laptops, tech support
Students in the Washington Elementary School District will find it easier to stay connected and complete academic work because of a donation of 130 laptop computers.
North Phoenix Kiwanis Club, CORE Construction, Cox Communications, Computers2Kids and the school district teamed up to distribute the refurbished laptops to students and their families late last month (April). The non-profit organization School Connect, Inc. brought these partners together because of the technology gap that many families with children in Title I schools face. Families received Lenovo 2-in-1 Touchscreen Laptops with Intel Celeron 16+ GB Hard Drive, 4 GB Ram; Microsoft Suite & Power My Learning Software installed, including one year of free tech support.
The school district chose the students that needed the technology, while North Phoenix Kiwanis contributed $10,000 toward buying the laptops. CORE Construction pitched in $5,000 toward the laptops’ cost and COX Communications offered free installation and 60-days of internet service at no charge to the qualifying families. Computers2Kids provided the laptops and School Connect coordinated the project.
Empower College Prep holds spirit days, parade
Empower College Prep is getting creative during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers at the college prep charter school for elementary through high school students have been providing online classes to students and scheduling one-on-one and small-group conferences with students that need additional help. The lessons are similar to what students would be experiencing inside the physical classrooms including analyzing literature works, engaging in math lessons through pre-algebra in elementary school and up to calculus and physics at the high school level. Texts and curriculum are available online and Zoom conferences and Google Classroom lets teachers post models of how to think through rigorous content, said Becky Jones, elementary principal. Jones reads books aloud to students and families during Read Aloud Live via Zoom.
Empower College Prep held spirit week activities online, including asking students to wear pajamas one day, to do something funny with their hair or wear a hat another day and dressing like superheroes or villains on another occasion. The school held a parade on April 17, where staff members met at the campus and drove around the neighborhood for about an hour. Teachers brought handmade posters with positive messages. It was a parade with no physical contact between participants, who wore masks for protection.
Madison Highland Prep robotics teams excel
Campuses are closed, but Madison Highland Prep’s robotics teams are revved up over finishing their best season in the school’s history.
The school’s VEX Robotics finished the 2019-20 year celebrating two tournament titles and three tournament awards. Its Smoking Motors team was tournament champion at the House of Payne Tournament at Payne Junior High School in Queen Creek and the Desert Ridge Tournament at Desert Ridge High School earlier this year. Madison Highland Prep’s Twisted Axles received the Design Award at the House of Payne tournament and were honored with the Excellence Award at the school’s own tournament in January.
VEX Robotics sent the MHP Smoking Motors, MHP Loose Screws and MHP Twisted Axles to the 2020 Arizona AIA VRC High School State Championships at Canyon View High School in Waddell in late February.
The VEX competitions stress science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as they require teams of students to engineer a robot to compete against other teams in a game-based, engineering challenge.