As local educators adapt their lesson plans to online platforms, one challenge they face is how to connect with their students over a computer screen.
To address that hurdle, Mancos Elementary School Principal Cathy Epps is dressing up as science whizz Ms. Frizzle every morning and reading aloud a “Magic School Bus” book to her tuned-in student viewers.
“I want to make sure to continue the connection I have with students and families,” Epps said. The new tradition kicked off March 30 with a reading of “The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body.”
After the coronavirus pandemic led Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to close all schools through April 17 (which has now been officially extended through April 30), Montezuma County school districts have been adjusting their instructional formats to ensure students keep learning while practicing social distancing and following the governor’s order.
Much of the new remote learning style involves video instruction. At Mancos Elementary School, teachers are expected to provide lessons of up to 30 minutes per content area.
“I have said many times that we have had to redesign the delivery of education in a matter of days, which takes years, at best, to do,” Epps said. “I will say that Mancos Preschool and Elementary School has the most determined, passionate, strong, creative, and loving teachers that I am incredibly proud to work with.”
And to keep up with her students, every morning Monday through Thursday, Epps sends out a video recording of herself reading aloud a “Magic School Bus” book – wearing a solar system dress and red wig reminiscent of famed fictional science teacher Ms. Frizzle.
Students are then expected to take an AR quiz, or a reading comprehension quiz taken by students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Epps said. Usually students take the quizzes at school or at the Mancos Public Library, but in light of the circumstances, the quizzes’ creator, Renaissance Learning, is providing access for students to take them at home.
And at the end of each lesson, Epps (or Ms. Frizzle) sings “Happy Birthday” to any student whose birthday it is – bringing the celebration home.