Jasper students to use blended instructional model

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 4/3/20

Students may not be able to return to Jasper City Schools due to the threat of COVID-19, but they will still be academically challenged through a blended instructional model.

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Jasper students to use blended instructional model

Posted

Students may not be able to return to Jasper City Schools due to the threat of COVID-19, but they will still be academically challenged through a blended instructional model.

“We will utilize technology as well as traditional paper and pencil assignments,” Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson told the Daily Mountain Eagle. “Our teachers will use Edmodo, Google Classroom, iXL, and Facebook classroom pages to provide video instruction. Our younger students will use their workbooks that come with math and reading.”

Jackson added, “Teachers are creating assignment calendars with packets being picked up next week and posting the assignments online. Most all of our teachers have already been providing enriching activities and checking in with their students.”

At the direction of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, schools systems across the state have been developing plans to serve all students, taking into account the lack of Internet access in many rural areas.  

On March 26, Ivey and Mackey said students would not be returning to schools this academic year, and school systems had until Friday to submit instructional plans to the state board of education.

Teachers for Jasper City Schools have made visits periodically to schools this week to retrieve course materials and other necessary items needed to do at-home digital instruction.

“Teachers are being paid but are working from home. They are creating lessons, contacting parents and students, and planning for next year,” Jackson said. “Hopefully, May will look much different than April. We think there will be some great opportunities for professional development and vertical and grade level planning. Teachers will be meeting in small groups or digitally for the first few weeks.” 

Jackson said one of the greatest challenges the school system will face is serving enrolled Hispanic students.

“We are very concerned about our Hispanic students. Instruction with our Hispanic students is difficult under the best circumstances. Our English Language Learner teachers are in touch with our families and are trying to support them by making them aware of what is going on.

“We will be sending information home in Spanish. The biggest challenge we face is that most of our Hispanic students and families do not speak, read, or write Spanish. They speak a different dialect that is not in written form. Many don't understand the Spanish language.”

Jackson said the school system’s career tech students will also be utilizing a blended model and have access to online opportunities to prepare for credential testing.  

“We will also make study information available to students, especially seniors, who are credential candidates,” Jackson said. “We will take advantage of those tests that have been made available digitally and will reach out and work with students in the future when it is safe to bring them together to take the onsite proctored tests.”

Like other school systems, Jasper City Schools is declaring seniors who were in good standing at the conclusion of the third nine-week period as graduates. 

“The governor ordered that all seniors in good standing were declared graduates. This means that they have met course requirements,” Jackson said. “Our counselors are working to make sure everyone has met the graduation requirements. In the event that a senior needs help passing coursework then we can assist in providing remediation.”

Jasper High School may still hold a graduation ceremony for students when it is safe to do so.

“Our high school folks are not ruling out graduation but we don't know what that will look like or if it will be possible. We’re hopeful that by the end of May we will be able to do something. So much depends on when and how large groups can congregate,” Jackson said. “I think everyone is most disappointed for our seniors. There are so many memory-making experiences that they are missing. We hope to make up some of these experiences.”   

Jasper High Principal Jonathan Allen said in a post to Facebook, “Over the next several weeks, it is our goal to love your students, provide opportunities for learning, and prepare them for the years to follow. We can do this together.”

Jackson said she knows the weeks ahead will be challenging, but she said every effort will be made to make sure all students remain engaged, even if they are learning at home.

“We are upset and disheartened that we are not going to be able to finish out the year with them in the manner in which we are accustomed. We want our students to know that even though we are not with them physically, we are mentally and emotionally,” she said. “We still want to be there and will be for our kids. If they need any of us, we are still available. We are trying to figure it all out too, but one thing is consistent, we all want what is best for our kids.” 

Jackson added, “We want so badly to make this as stress free for our families and students as we possibly can, but the bottom line is, it is a stressful time across the globe. This is new for us and we will learn and make adjustments as we move forward. … I have complete confidence that our teachers will make lemonade out of lemons. They will rise to meet the challenge and will in most cases exceed it.”