Originally published April 11, 2020 in the Reedsburg Times-Press.

By Erica Dynes

Brenda Erdman, a physical education teacher at the School District of Reedsburg, said adapting to creating lessons online wasn’t easy and something she and other teachers have adjusted to with school shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest adjustment for Erdman, whose taught for the district for 26 years, was not being able to see her students every day.

“They are our children, they are our family,” Erdman said.

Erdman said she spends about 2-4 hours a day creating and organizing current and future lessons for her students, and wants to spend additional time working on other school-related projects she had been putting off for a while, like reading professional books and going back through notes from conventions to help her with her teaching.

Erdman posts those lessons on Facebook with videos of herself exercising, along with reviews of materials she taught during the year. The videos range from reviewing of juggling to obstacle courses and resources on what students can do at home to keep active.

Reedsburg school district will provide virtual learning opportunities for students amid virus
She posts announcements and student accomplishments to the page, she said. She also reminds her students and their families to take care of themselves emotionally and physically as schools have been shut down around the state for almost a month due to the pandemic.

“As much as we want to keep up with our skills in school, I think right now a big part of everything we are going through is staying mentally and emotionally healthy because this is a really difficult time for everybody,” Erdman said.

Business Education Teacher Connie Jump is teaching a dual credit accounting course, using Screencastify and voice-overs on PowerPoints to insert into Google Classrooms to share with her students to complete their assignments. She’s had them submit work completed on paper by having them take a picture of the hard copy on their mobile phone to upload to Google Classroom for her to grade. Personal finance classes involve videos with topics such as saving accounts, an important unit as people around the nation have lost their jobs due to the economic effects of the pandemic.

“We talk about why is saving so important, well now we are in this pandemic and this is why saving is so important,” Jump said.

Because not everyone learns the same, Jump also holds an optional Zoom meeting for her students to attend to talk about what she can do as a teacher to improve lessons and assist them in their studies, like hosting one-on-one lessons.

“I think we are getting by the longer this goes the more we seem to be learning a lot from it as far as technology goes,” she said. “It can be done. The kids have to have the structure.”

Jump, who is also the advisor to the high school’s Future Business Leaders of America chapter, said the group had their final activities plan halted to become recognized as an outstanding chapter. For one of those activities, the group was scheduled to have students job shadow a professional during the month of April.

So the group adapted by job shadowing their parents who had their work experience changed to mainly working from home during the pandemic. She said in an April 2 interview she submitted the paperwork to become an officially recognized chapter.

Future Business Leaders of America President Ella Erdman, a 17-year-old senior, decided to job shadow Brenda Erdman. While her future plans after graduation include taking a year off school to join the Army National Guard, she decided to job shadow her mother to help the chapter obtain the award and to learn more about her job and how she’s had to adjust.

“It was really cool to see what she does every day,” Ella Erdman said of her mother’s teaching efforts. “It was very different than what it would have been if I would have job shadowed her in the classroom but it’s very interesting to see how the teachers have adjusted to this time and how they still want to stay connected to their students.”

Ella Erdman, also completing her own school work for classes, said it takes about an hour or two to complete homework every day rather than sitting in a classroom for eight hours, she said. Erdman said the teachers have been understanding with grading and explaining notes to make sure everyone understands the lesson plans.

“The teachers, they are not going like super hard on us because of what’s going on,” Ella Erdman said. “They have been really understanding.”

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