So, what if your students are not online…?

Slice of Life Challenge Day#17

So schools are officially closed as of today in our state, for two weeks. This is not a hugely populated area of the country, so I am very much hoping they will open again after 31st March. The main reason…? Our students are really poor, English is not their first language, their parents don’t speak any English and they do NOT have access to online learning!

Once again, the divide between rich and poor comes to the fore and there seems to be no easy solution. These kids have very little to do at home, so they tend to roam the streets and neighbourhood when school is not on, which is just what they’re not meant to do at this time. About the only thing they can do at home is watch cable TV which is mostly mindless rubbish here. They tend to watch Cartoon Network or something similar and think that most people in the west live in a castle like those in Frozen or Beauty and the Beast.

The kindergarten class is at a crucial learning stage, just eight weeks into a new school year. How do their teachers get them to study phonics on a daily basis at home? They have no books at home and barely any toys. The homework book we do send home with the kindergarten classes on a daily basis, usually ends up fairly grubby and worn in a matter of weeks.

If anyone has any ideas, please do let me know! So far I have thought of giving older students ten different words a day,  to put into their own sentences in their neatest possible handwriting and a couple of topics a day to do some free writing on…… They can also take home a book a day (if they want) from our little library. Yes, I know they’re not meant to come to school, but I figure that popping in and out for a bit more homework every day on an almost empty road, is not going to expose them unnecessarily.

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Handwashing is part of their daily routine. Everything these kids have learned about hygiene has been here at school.

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18 thoughts on “So, what if your students are not online…?

  1. This is one of the things that I think is most stressful for teachers! We take the weight of the world onto our shoulders. Their parents appreciate us, and everyone is grateful for out contribution to their education. But we can’t bear this weight alone. Their parents will simply have to step up. Or they won’t. There’s nothing we can really do either way. In our province we’ve been told to do nothing for our students because it’s not fair to the children who have no internet access at home. The divide will get wider anyway because children like mine will be getting homeschool from me while my students, at least a lot of them, will mostly play video games. I’m really waiting to see if we will all end up in summer school! It makes sense that we would at least offer it. I can’t imagine everything just going to back to normal all of a sudden and we don’t do something to make up for this lost school time. Perhaps this is the beginning of mass year-round school calendaring?

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  2. My community, too, is experiencing the have/have not access divide. There is even a fraught conversation ensuing online involving asking teachers to volunteer, some of them over 60 as well as immune-system compromised. Wherever we are, so is inequity. I do agree with Lisa. We, as teachers, can only do so much. At the very least, perhaps this will prompt change or a move in that direction.

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  3. As you seem to have a supply of paper … might these little ones draw pictures each day of words beginning with certain sounds -? From their own surroundings and understandings? I base this on the collection of objects we often use at school to teach or reinforce beginning sounds to kindergartners, etc. Maybe it could be in the form of a word-collector dictionary made of blank paper folded in half, with pages labeled as you see fit. And for older ones – bear with me – this takes me back to a childhood experience, sitting with a friend and making a little village out of notebook paper. We figured out how to draw each piece, to cut it and fold it so that it would stand (or lie) just so. We cut the doors on one side so they would open and close. We made playgrounds with swings and slides … pretty sure we made little people, too. We entertained ourselves for hours by making up the story of this paper world as we went. I wonder what your precious children would create – where their realities of their imaginations might take them – in representing words or sounds they are learning. The youngest can draw even if they cannot cut, and they can all tell their stories.

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  4. In this age of technology we then to forget that there are many that don’t have technology available to them. I don’t think anyone knows what the impact of what is happening is going to be.

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  5. I’m also wondering if storytelling has a role. Perhaps coming up with a story and telling it to someone in their family? Or, if they have paper, create drawings of characters and put on puppet shows for themselves?

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  6. Even here in the States this is an issue. If our students have a device or were given a device, for many their only internet is at McDonald’s – not exactly helpful at this time and only for those who can walk or drive into town. We are still in school, but am preparing for soon not being here. I am so thankful for these blogs with lots of ideas for students who can connect.

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  7. I wonder if you could set something up like the free lending library boxes we have all over our city. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but would be great if they could hold some basic supplies that you already have. along with books. Maybe kids could leave things in them that they have created. (Maybe this is too complicated, just an idea.)
    I also like Lainie’s idea of storytelling, which requires no materials, but is such a great way to rehearse for writing.

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  8. AH! What a stressful time. There are just so many challenges we haven’t faced before. I love the lending library idea. I am not sure if you have access to Raz Kids but they have a lot of printable books that perhaps could help with the supply and not being concerned with how they are returned to you.

    GOOD LUCK!

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