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Lake Placid High School rearranges schedule

Principal: 9-period day was exhausting students

Lake Placid Middle High School (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid High School students returned from spring break Monday to a new, more structured phase of its remote teaching program.

Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Roger Catania said high school Principal Tammy Casey “has been on the front lines of designing the program, getting feedback from people and then redesigning it.”

Casey said this is really version 1.0 of the program because, up until this point, the district had left the curriculum choices up to the individual teachers.

She said she changed to program Monday to bring all students and teachers under one, unified schedule after students told her the usual nine-period day just did not work for working from home.

“A lot of the students were saying that the teachers were still doing kind of what they were doing in school, where they would try to meet with them online every day for 40 minutes, so by the end of the day they had been online probably five or six times, and then had work assigned after,” Casey said. “It was just becoming all-consuming in their day. … For some of them, they were booked solid with Zoom meetings and work.”

The new schedule accounts for two classes a day, in which students meet teachers online for 30 minutes at a time. The rest of the day they will work on whatever they have for homework, with Fridays set aside for catch-up work.

Casey said this will hopefully help students learn more rather than just get through the work.

“I think that we would have had some kids burn out if we continued what we were doing before,” she said.

She said that with the whole family at home during this pandemic, many students are taking care of siblings, doing housework and feeling the stress of rising coronavirus numbers in the area.

“School isn’t necessarily the primary focus right now,” Casey said.

She said teachers are also balancing home and work life, and sometimes schooling their own children from home. They said preparing online lessons takes longer than usual, too. She said they also support this change

Elementary more flexible

Lake Placid Elementary School Principal Sonja Franklin said her school took a similar approach to instruction from the start. The elementary school pairs students with teachers for the whole day, unlike the high school, which has students see as many as nine teachers a day.

Franklin said teachers are still holding online office hours and class times for their different grade levels, with a maximum of three days of face-to-face instruction, so as to not wear them out.

She said the special area teachers for physical education, art and music are also holding online classes.

She said the elementary school schedule is less rigid than the high school one, and has become more flexible over time.

Spring break

Over spring break, Lake Placid students kept up their studies in less rigorous programs.

High and middle school students had “bingo boards” and could choose to do five activities in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally. These included items like building a garden, math challenges or free spaces like “learn something new.”

They documented their progress and presented a slide show at the end.

Elementary school students had an “Olympic challenge” with five questions and five activities, with various levels of response acceptable. Students could write songs, keep statistics on their daily activities, blog or create slide shows.

Testing

Casey said she’s asked teachers to do more formative assessments than traditional tests.

“To say that you have three days to learn something and then you’re going to take a test on it isn’t necessarily fair to everybody,” Casey said.

She said there is a balance of adapting the assessments for students without making them too weak, educationally.

“We’ve been pushing our students forward. We continue to provide them with new material,” Casey said. “Now that the Regents exams have been canceled, our teachers have a little more freedom to go more in depth with some of the topics that students were interested in.”

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