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Classes taught online on snow days

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TARBORO — While most students in Edgecombe County were missing school during the recent January snow days, students at G.W. Bulluck Elementary School had the option to continue learning and the school has earned some props in the process.

Hillary Boutwell, principal of G.W. Bulluck Elementary School, shared with the members of the Edgecombe County Board of Education last week the lengths her teachers went to so the students could continue learning in spite of the missed days.

“This was just the teachers understanding that we had circumstances beyond our control and just thinking outside the box,” Boutwell said.

Boutswell said that some of the teachers got together and decided to convert the snow day into an e-learning day, during which students could continue learning at home from their computers and tablets.

“We posted a notice on Facebook the night before saying that we would go live the next day and teach lessons during the snow day,” Boutwell said.

Boutwell said the school posted the schedule of lessons at 8 a..m. Lessons began at 9 a.m. and went live on Facebook every thirty minutes until about 4 p.m. Jan. 18. However, Boutwell said she did not expect the level of response the lessons received.

“We felt over 5,000 views on Facebook that day, These views were not only from the students at the school but from across the district and from other districts interested in the lessons as well,” Boutwell said. “We had a lot of new teachers follow our Facebook page that day.”

On Friday, Boutwell said, “snow and ice were not on our side” so Friday was another snow day for students and an optional workday for teachers. However, school leaders decided to try a new experiment in online learning.

“There is no planning like being in your own building so we knew the teachers needed to be able to get back into the building to plan, but we did not want to stop the instruction there,” Boutwell said. “So we went live once again and asked the students to teach the teachers while the teachers planned, and that was an overwhelming response as well. Parents joined together with their children and went live on Facebook and the students taught us and their peers.”

Boutwell said the project became a competition. Students who participated in the project received a gift and were entered into a drawing for a free tablet because the students were “Facebook live stars.”

“What we did not anticipate was the number of questions from parents and the ‘thank yous’ we would get from them,” Boutwell said. “During this process, they learned how to go to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction website and how to go to the ECPS website to learn what the learning objectives for their children were ... the parents had taken the time to show their children that this is what you are supposed to be learning right now.”

Boutwell said the experience was positive for everyone involved.

“It was a really interesting and pretty inspiring day. The teachers at our school are just phenomenal,” Boutwell said. “It has caused a pretty big movement. Martin Millennium joined on the next day at their site. And teachers have been coming up to me saying they don’t want it to stop there. Some said they would be interested in doing lessons on Saturdays or during spring break.”

Boutwell said many of the children seemed to enjoy the experiment as well.

“You can reach so many children this way,” Boutwell said. “The idea of learning in pajamas is super fun.”

For more information about the project, go to the G.W. Bulluck Elementary Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/gw.bulluck.7

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