Since August, Broadalbin-Perth Elementary School Principal Dan Casey and Assistant Principal Kerri Barker have spent numerous hours altering class schedules for their 795 students in K-6, to make sure students in all three learning models — in-person, hybrid and 100% remote — stay engaged in a well-rounded curriculum that includes core subjects AND special-area classes: music, band, art, physical education, and Project Lead the Way.
Logistically, scheduling specials has been a big challenge, but according to Casey, it was something they were “not willing to budge on.”
“At BPES, the core subjects provide the foundation for our students, but our specials are just as crucial to our mission of providing them with a well-rounded education,” he said. “Just because a student is learning remotely does not mean they should have to miss out on these learning experiences. To the contrary, we’ve worked together as a team to make specials a priority, especially for our remote students.”
While special-area classes for in-person students look much like they have in past years, teachers have had to get creative to serve their remote students.
PLTW: Project Lead The Way is a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) class taught by Beth Tomlinson and Tammy Staie. The curriculum helps students develop such skills as problem-solving, critical thinking and collaboration, while exploring real-world challenges. Tomlinson described three recent projects that seemed to grab the attention of her students who are learning remotely:
- Forces and Interactions: Using their knowledge of simple machines, students designed and constructed a mechanism to help lift a hypothetical tiger out of a moat at a zoo and put it back in its habitat.
- The Human Body: Students were tasked with designing and constructing a cast that is light, durable, and water resistant to help a hypothetical student who had fallen off the monkey bars at school and broke her arm.
- The Changing Earth and Mapping: A group of houses are at the bottom of a large hill that is in danger because of a landslide. The students designed and constructed a project to prevent erosion of the hillside to save the houses.
ART: BPES art teacher Jon Aery shared some of the artwork submitted by his remote learners.
- (3rd & 4th Grade) Alphabet Monster Name Pop Ups: This project helped students understand positive and negative spaces within the letters of their names as they were tasked with applying a surprise theme inspired by each letter.
- (3rd & 4th Grade) Vitruvian Mannequin Snow Angels: This project taught students about human proportion and how to create movement in compositions.
- (K through 6th Grade) Primary, Secondary and Intermediate Colors: Remote students participated in a scavenger hunt around their houses to find items to illustrate the color wheel.
- (Kindergarten) Giraffe Portraits with Shape and Texture: Students learned to draw both geometric and free formed shapes to create a giraffe portrait and used a watercolor resist technique, along with texture rubbings.
- (K & 1st Grade) Snowman at Night Cards: This project reinforced skills like cutting and gluing, overlapping, and movement with shapes to bring snowmen to life on paper.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION: BPES physical education teachers Jeff Richards, Tim Cornell and Vincent Calderone have created lessons that help get their remote students up and moving at home. Students participate in live workout sessions and games that focus on the health components of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. The PE department uses creative equipment variations, such as using rolled up socks to simulate a ball, and choose interactive videos that they could do simultaneously with their students.
MUSIC and BAND: Music teacher Mary Rasefske and band teacher Brianne Bixby team together to incorporate music education into the curriculum at BPES. Bixby says that remote students who play an instrument are receiving one-on-one lessons every six days via Google Meet, just like their counterparts who are learning in-person.
For music class, Rasefske taught her students in grades 3-5 about Mozart, which included hearing a short biography about the famed composer and using classroom instruments to play along with some of his most famous works. Remote students were able to participate by finding objects at home that could be used as instruments.