Lydster: school days, reimagined

rigorous sans being onerous

albany-city-school-district-squarelogoBy Friday, March 13, the rumors were rife in Albany, NY that there would be no school the following week because of the pandemic. Specifically, Albany County had confirmed two cases in the county the day before. Two of my daughter’s teachers gave her homework for the following week, just in case. At about 4:35 p.m., it was official: no school for the next two weeks.

The district had links to old exams, Khan Academy and other materials. As it became obvious that the schools would be closed well beyond the initial March dates, the district started distributing Chromebooks to students to assist families with computer access at home. Some free WiFi options were touted.

A new schedule

On Monday, April 6, teachers were to begin new instruction at all grade levels. For high schools, it meant classes at 9 and 10:30 a.m., lunch between 11:30 and 12:30, and classes at 12:30 and 2.p.m. The online learning is through Google Classroom. So the daughter is up by 8 a.m. to start her reimagined school day.

It was interesting to me how the course work has been recreated. Her physics teacher has worksheets and short videos, featuring herself. Others were making use of existing worksheets from various sources; some are great. Some, though, were difficult for even me to follow.

I have helped my daughter with her physics, math and French homework because of my experience from a half-century ago. My wife, the ENL teacher, who is also working all day from home, assists with English Language Arts, as they call it, and art, not that my daughter needs the assistance there.

Electronic resources continue to be available. Given the fact that these classes weren’t designed for online learning, the schedule seems rigorous enough without being onerous. It would be trickier, though if she were taking two classes of the same category, such as math, science or language. Or if she and siblings were sharing a Chromebook. Fortunately, this not the case. I feel very glad that I’m not in the position to have to homeschool my daughter, just help her a bit.

One real drag: the spring break, scheduled for April 10-17, became instead “scheduled days of instruction in alignment with Governor Cuomo’s executive order closing all New York schools through April 29 due to COVID-19.”

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