Home Learning 101
HINTON — Monday, March 23 (today) will mark the first day of Hinton Community Schools home learning efforts.
The necessity for the new way of teaching came about after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recommended school districts across the state do not hold classes for four weeks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Reynolds made the announcement in the evening hours last Sunday, March 15.
“We’re just trying to offer our students some type of continuation of their learning during this four-week hiatus,” said Hinton Superintendent Todd Meyer. “We had a number of parents contact us in regards to how to keep their children learning while they were home.”
According to a letter issued by Hinton administration to the parents last Wednesday, home learning will look quite different, depending on the grade level of the students involved and the expectations associated with the curriculum and staff expectations.
“We do understand and acknowledge that this type of instruction will not replace the instruction your child receives daily when they are in the classroom and face-to-face with their teacher,” it read. “However, we believe continuing their education and providing a sense of structure is important during these uncertain times.”
While Gov. Reynolds has informed the districts they are not allowed to require students to do online learning unless every student has a device and the Internet at home, the school can provide them with an opportunity to maintain their learning.
At Hinton, Meyer said 96 percent of the students have a computer at home and 94 percent of them have Internet at home.
“As high as those two numbers are, they’re still both not 100 percent, so we can’t require our students to do the online learning. However, we will have our teachers preparing work for their students to work on during this four-week period,” Meyer explained.
Hinton is a 1:1 school in grades 9-12, with each student having a MacBook. At the 6-8 grade level, Meyer said the district has enough Chromebooks to send one home per family for those who don’t have a device.
“The middle school and high school students will be able to study on any of the classes they’re currently taking in school,” Meyer explained.
At the elementary school, iPads were also available for parents to borrow if needed.
“Our younger elementary students will be able to concentrate on Math, English and Science. The older elementary students will also have those three subjects available along with Social Studies, music and P.E.,” he shared.
For Meyer, the importance of offering this home learning is about maintaining skills.
“Keeping the students’ skill levels up over this break is very good to help them be ready to continue learning as soon as the state allows us to continue the school year,” he said. “I would hope 100 percent of our students continue to learn through this online option or the option of putting together packets of materials for kids who don’t have Internet at home.”
Hinton junior Isabella Fickett welcomes the idea developed by the district.
“I believe Hinton’s decision to continue with at home learning while on this four-week quarantine will benefit us. This opportunity will help us maintain our education throughout this time off,” she said. “I also like how the teachers are still available to us if we have any questions or need help.”
Fellow junior Taylor Reuter agreed.
“Having online school is a good idea so that we don’t lose everything we know and just sit around for a whole month,” she said.
For the students and parents in the district, Meyer said he truly hopes they all will take advantage of this new opportunity.
“We live in the 21st century and we need to remember that we are preparing these kids to live in this world. A great deal of our society is now online. We’re putting our kids at a disadvantage if we don’t teach them how to use it wisely,” Meyer said. “In today’s society, the technology exists to do online learning. Some states across the country offer complete K-12 online schools or academies.”
Meyer, a former superintendent in Jackson, Minnesota, said they were one to provide that opportunity.
“In Minnesota, they have the abilities to have snow days made up by kids and teachers staying home that day and doing it online. We can do this too. We have the technology. We can make online learning look like anything we want,” he shared. “As a school district, we just have to make it a priority, then follow through and purchase what we need, train our teachers, and finally train our students. The last one will be the easiest one of all.”