Most teachers had just days to move from the classroom to an entirely remote, often digital, way of teaching. It’s something New Jersey’s Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet says is a testament to the adaptability of the state’s educators.
“Our educators have been very innovative in the creation of some of their lessons, whether it’s pen and paper, your traditional packets that you take home when a student is sick, versus Zoom, or versus the virtual world,” Repollet said.
But there’s a disparity between kids who have access to technology and the internet and kids who don’t. “There is a digital divide. We know that,” Repollet said. “We will not know until we get out of this and we assess our kids and see exactly where we are.”
That divide is why the state is working with NJTV to reach the tens of thousands of kids without access to technology, according to Repollet. The partnership, which includes the NJEA, bypasses the internet by bringing educational programs to any student with a TV in the house, in all 21 counties of the state.
Classes start today
NJTV Learning Live, hosted by Kimberly Dickstein Hughes, 2019-2020 State Teacher of the Year, launches Monday, April 6 with daily on-air classes for grades three through six, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on NJTV (find your local channel).
The on-air classroom lessons will be livestreamed at njtvonline.org/live and archived on the network’s website, on the NJTV Learning Live program page. Dozens of teachers from across the state have been recruited to help deliver and prepare content in multiple subject areas, including math, science, English language arts, social studies and physical education. The network is prepared to provide up to 10 weeks of remote learning programming, which will see most kids through to the end of this school year.
That’s how Bill Smith cut his digital teaching chops, creating a homemade studio in his basement. He walked us through the types of lessons he’s planning.
“This was a virtual field trip where I took them through many stops along New Jersey’s Underground Railroad and really make this lesson come to life. So I was aware of a couple programs that I might use, like Google Earth and I use an editing program call Screencast-o-matic,” said Smith, a social studies teacher in the Southern Regional School District.
Smith said he’s already thinking about how he can use the techniques he’s developed at home, when he finally gets back in the classroom.