Perry Elementary School tackles online learning

Andrew Brown -
Perry Elementary principal Ned Menke hands out a computer on Friday, April 10 at Perry Elementary School. PHOTO BY ANDREW BROWN/THE PERRY CHIEF

There has been a lot changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the hardest-hit sectors has been education.

Now, as both teachers and students are forced inside their homes, schools are becoming more creative and technology has come into use. For the Perry Elementary School, teachers have shown their creativity with the various ways they’ve been able to reach students via online means which has been a big emphasis.

“Right now we’re not able to be with our students so I believe it’s extremely important to still be present in their lives and technology is the best way to do that,” said Perry Elementary music teacher Shaylena Bell.

Recently, the utilization of technology into the lives of the students meant the Perry Elementary School handed out school computers for those in second through fifth grades on Friday, April 10.

“There was the question of why didn’t we do this earlier but things were so up in the air initially,” began Perry Elementary School principal Ned Menke. “Up until that point, we’d never really done anything like that, we actually don’t have bags or any way to transport them efficiently and safely. We know it’s important though because of the need that’s out there.”

With the pause in the school year pushed back even further until the end of April, the act of handing out the computers was a crucial aspect in helping the students learn during these times away from the classroom.

“With this extended far beyond where we thought it would be, we thought it would be in the best interest of the students and the potential of getting some voluntary learning done,” said Menke.

Even with that said, while handing out computers for students to use during this time may be new, the use of technology in learning has always been a major component for Perry Elementary. While it also helps extend the ability to learn for students, Menke also went on to discuss a further benefit.

“In our current set-up, second through fifth graders are using their computers a lot,” said Menke. “They use them a lot through the school day and our teachers are really savvy with them. Now with their use of Google Classroom, Facebook teacher created sites and other uses of distance learning, kids are still able to learn and hold on to some resemblance of normalcy. That can be huge for students.”

Teachers all across the Perry Elementary School are continuing to utilize technology at their disposal and now students are better able to receive what teachers like Mrs. Bell are putting out there.

“Each week I do a focus video which is something I’ve used during the school year as well and really helps out now,” said Bell. “Recently I’ve been doing videos on social distancing, what it is, and how do we handle it. I think just communicating the curriculum and making it fun for students during this time is important.”

Teachers all across the spectrum are finding ways to achieve that important communication with their students. While COVID-19 has put a halt to learning in the classroom, it hasn’t stopped the pursuit of that very use of technology that Perry Elementary School is constantly utilizing.

“I think it’s important to have the use of technology right now because we as a state and even the country are moving towards a computer science initiative,” said Perry Elementary instructional coach Nathan Horgan.

Horgan continued to shine a light on the never-ending pursuit by the school through the use of technology which hasn’t been dampened even by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We’ve received a computer sciences elementary grant and were one of roughly six schools initially to get that grant which has really helped us,” said Horgan. “It’s helped us with coding options through programs like Tinker, Scratch, Codable and so forth. It’s going to help students and even teachers learn and teach better.”

Horgan also mentioned current online resources like Class Dojo and other resources that teachers have been utilizing to reach out to not just students, but their families as well. In fact, those very same online resources (which also include Seesaw and others), have helped ease the burden caused by the pause in classroom time.

“We’ve been utilizing technology a lot already and while this whole thing is tough, our use of technology has really helped keep some things normal so that our teachers are still able to deliver help to our students whether through simple video messages or online resources,” said Horgan.

Keep watching for how the middle and high school buildings are utilizing technology to help with voluntary learning opportunities at home at and in the Perry Chief paper.