Long Island teachers are finding creative ways to enhance their teaching while abiding by COVID-19 guidelines.
From the Hicksville music teacher who put together a "Music Mobile" filled with instruments she takes into classes to the Melville English teacher using his tech skills to better connect kids learning remotely, these innovative instructors are adding extra enjoyment and more personal learning in schools filled with anxiety and restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Danielle Donnelly, a music teacher for schools in the Hicksville district, built her "Music Mobile" so she can transport her lessons and instruments from class to class, rather than having students gather in the music room. Schools in general want students to stay in their own classroom to limit interaction that could spread the virus.
Donnelly got a cart on wheels, loaded it with little drums, egg shakers and a ukulele, and decorated it with designs and frilly boas of pink, blue and green. The kids remain behind masks and plastic barriers as they sing and play along to songs, and she sanitizes each instrument after it's used, she said.
"It's an outlet for their social and emotional well-being," Donnelly said.
Sterling Swaby, an English teacher at West Hollow Middle School in Melville, is using his technical savvy to better connect students in the classroom with those learning at home. When he teaches, it is to both kids in the classroom and those tuning in remotely. He’s able to project the faces of the remote learners onto a big "smart screen" in his class, and he uses the camera in his laptop to show the classroom to the kids at home.
"They feel as if they are seeing each other," he said. "It keeps them on task and focused."
Richard Purdy teaches all-remote classes to children in several schools in the Half Hollow Hills Central School District. He is using programs such as Google Slides and BrainPop videos to make remote learning more engaging to the kids. He's also spending more time having the students do remote show-and-tells and tell each other about their weekends.
These lessons provide kids who are learning alone at home with more connection to other children, he said.