With schools shut down, Bristol Bay educators adjust to curriculums outside the classroom

Apr 3, 2020

Governor Mike Dunleavy mandated that schools remain closed until May 1 to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Teachers are changing their curriculums to accomadte at-home education.

 

The last time students met for classes in Dillingham was March 18, before spring break. 3/19/2020
Credit KDLG/Tyler Thompson

Educators and students around Bristol Bay were forced to adjust after schools around the region shut down due to the coronavirus.

In Dillingham, teachers are preparing take-home packets with written instructions for students on a week-by-week basis. Mariah Smith teaches high school math, French and computer science to more than 60 students. Smith said the transition from in-class instruction to remote learning is a challenge.

 

“You realize how much you explain with your body language and showing people examples," Smith said. "To just write it all out is tricky and time consuming.”

Instead of developing a computer app in class, for example, Smith is having students write out prototypes on paper. She is also condensing material for the final weeks of the school year. The state mandated that districts remain closed until May 1.

 

“To be able to prepare eight weeks’ worth of work in two weeks, is a lot of thinking," Smith said. "Like, okay, how am I going to make this successful for the students where they understand and don’t get stuck on week three.”

Smith and other teachers in Dillingham have shared their direct contact information with students and families. They are required to call each student at least once a week, and students can reach out anytime.  

Julien Deljanovan is the reading interventionist at the Dillingham Elementary School. She’s prepared reading material for her 12 students to work on at home. But normally, she meets with larger reading groups at the school and visits classrooms throughout the day.

 

“Really the most important thing I can do is read with the students," she said. "Listen to them read, give strategies for reading, and that is really difficult to do when you’re not actually with students. I miss the engagement.”

Deljanovan is asking them to read aloud at home with family members. She is using the same learning materials from class, which the students are already familiar with.

In Igiugig, 18 students in grades K-12 are receiving homebound packets each Monday. The Lake and Peninsula School District provided science kits for students to take home, along with iPads and computers with preloaded coursework. Igiugig’s head teacher, Tate Gooden, said they have figured out ways to get creative after a two-week adjustment period.

 

“As a district we are meeting twice a week online to share ideas amongst the teachers and that’s been real helpful," Gooden said. "People are doing botanical studies of plants and homeopathic, natural medicine units.”

This week, students and community members can participate in the district’s art contest. Another teacher created a platform online for people to share poems and speeches. 

The Southwest Region School District sent students the first set wave of homework this week. Teachers are staying in touch with families while the schools are closed. 

The Southwest Region and Dillingham City school districts are distributing meal services in the form of pre-packed lunches.

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200