Educators' online learning challenges

With classroom instruction moved to distance learning, there are specific challenges and hurdles for elementary school teachers

Posted: May 20, 2020 8:57 AM
Updated: May 20, 2020 9:43 AM

CHICO, Calif. – All across our region, student learning and classrooms have gone virtual.

The Chico Unified School District includes 23 schools, serving over 12,000 K-12 students.

Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough joined a McManus Elementary School teacher for a virtual class. Instructor Terri Lowe has had to adjust her lessons and mindset, to effectively teach youngsters online.

A veteran instructor, Lowe has been a teacher for more than 30 years. The online course Yarbough joined, offered 2nd and 3rd graders a reading and comprehension lesson.

In addition to covering the basics of reading, the students are also part of the English Language Development program, which Lowe says, can add an additional layer of difficulty to setting up online learning.

Lowe hosts her classes in 30-minute sessions, with a limit of 10 students. During the most recent class, only eight came on-line.
Lowe says she first makes sure all the kids are present. Then, she double-checks they can all hear and see her and are able to view the day’s lesson plan.

On any given day, Lowe says she might host up to four online courses.

“We’ve been doing online classes for seven weeks,” explains Lowe. Yarbough asked if online learning is an effective way to teach young children.

“In the classroom is more effective but this is the next best thing. We’re making the best of it and I’m really liking this experience.”
Lowe says there are challenges but also successes.

“I was having to navigate Google Classroom and ZOOM and my graphics and work the chat room and manage the kids online,” says Lowe. “I have to make sure they are focused and awake and paying attention and not disappearing then coming back. But, I have learned so much with technology that once I do go back in the classroom, I’ll have a better handle on everything.”

With the future of classroom learning not fully established the concept of online, virtual classes even for the youngest students, could be a long-term reality.

“What concerns me the most is that 100% of our kids are not getting the education they need to be getting,” says Lowe. “Whether it’s technology, family life or parental issues, all 400 of our kids are missing out on getting all their academic needs. As hard as we are trying, it’s not like being in the classroom.”

Lowe says she typically hosts classes for the English Language Development program, one-on-one lessons for individual students and small group lessons.

She says for some of the more ambitious students, they might attend up to four online classes a day, with different instructors.

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Warm temperatures and a Red Flag Warning for high fire danger are ahead for our region today. The heat ramps up this weekend and that will prompt an Excessive Heat Watch for the valley and foothills.
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