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The New Educational Norm

by Atlanta Northcutt- Reporter for the Southern Standard

Students are learning a new norm in education as schools are closed indefinitely through the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

Rylan Corley, 12, is a sixth-grader at Irving College Elementary School, and has been practicing her studies online since Tennessee schools were officially closed on March 13. She has attended Irving College since preschool.

“The online programs have made it a bit harder for me because I feel I can’t learn as much through virtual education as I could in the classroom, where I can ask questions and get help from my teachers if I need to,” says Corley.

In a previous interview with the Southern Standard, Director of Warren County Schools, Bobby Cox, stated online instruction will continue. He said if the governor’s stay-at-home order is relaxed in May, educational packets can be distributed to students who don’t have internet access at home.

“I feel like going back to school next year will be harder because students may be further behind if not understanding what is being taught online or not in the classrooms,” says Corley. “I’m not afraid my grades will go down this current year, but I’m worried they could go down the following year if I don’t fully comprehend the way everything is being taught at this time. It definitely makes me more aware of the importance of doing everything possible to learn and take in all I can right now.”

Corley’s favorite subjects are ELA, or English Language Arts, and science. However, she claims she was able to perform experiments in the school’s science lab, and is now unable to do so with the closures.

“It’s more difficult because there’s no visual or hands-on education available, and that’s how I learn best,” says Corley.

“I interact with my teachers through e-mail,” adds Corley. “Some of the teachers will send us videos while others don’t. We use Google Classroom and BrainPop a lot.”

BrainPop is a website where instructional videos are given on several subjects, quizzes are available and information is provided to students participating in the program.

BrainPop’s website informs instructors the online program “is here to help you and your curious learners stay informed and on-track with free access during school closures.”

“When using these virtual programs, you’re unable to raise your hand and ask questions if something isn’t understood,” says Corley. “At school, you have your teachers and classmates to interact with, but with BrainPop, you just watch videos and take online quizzes.”

Unlike the normal classroom setting students are used to, Corley states the virtual programs being used are individualized to each student rather than an online class filled with the students who’ve been in the same classroom together since the beginning of the year.

“Our online classes aren’t done together,” says Corley. “We do our own individual work through math games, reading articles and answering the questions the teachers’ assign through Google Classroom.”

Although the educational aspect of schooling is of the utmost importance, students are lacking the availability to develop and continue healthy social skills acquired through interactions with one another during their formative years.

“My favorite part of school is seeing and being with my friends, and I haven’t been able to do so in a long time,” says Corley. “Seeing all of my friends, fellow students and teachers is something I really miss,” adds Corley. “Since my school is so small, everyone knows one another. It’s been really hard not being able to interact with everyone, including my teachers.”

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