Connected Learning brings a new style of remote learning to students

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MJ Martinez

Virtual Meet-Up -- American Studies teachers Patrick Mulcahy (bottom right) and MJ Martinez meet with their students juniors Max Alvarez (top left), Sasha Davis (top right) and Olivia Espinosa (bottom left) for office hours through Google Meet. Farmington began Connected Learning practices on March 23 in response to the school closure. The school will be closed until at least April 20.

Lily Mastrobattista, Features Editor

The recent events of the rapid spread of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19) have left schools, businesses, and much of the world in quarantine. During this time, the high school has adapted to the change by using the approach of Connected Learning. Students started Connected Learning on March 23 and will continue until at least April 20.

Recently, Governor Ned Lamont released an executive order permitting schools to complete less than the previously required 180 days of school; however, schools would still have to continue until June 30. The Board of Education voted on March 23 for senior graduation to be held on June 11, so Connected Learning will help achieve this goal. 

Connected Learning is a way for students to connect with teachers virtually, using Google Classroom, Google Meets, or email to complete assignments. Teachers and administrators spent time planning remotely in virtual platforms to create lesson plans and at-home curriculum for students and continue to meet to refine it. 

“The goal of Connected Learning, as articulated to students, families, educators and community members is to have students connected to us, connected to learning, and connected to one another,” Principal Scott Hurwitz said. 

The Connected Learning plan is divided into three sections, that will offer support through each:

Ongoing and Meaningful Instruction: Allow students to continue their learning at home with meaningful instruction and feedback from their teacher(s) through a digital platform.

Social Connection: Create a sense of continuity and help students maintain connections with the school during an extended school closure. As much as possible, students will receive help in managing any possible worries or fears.

Equitable Education and Supports: Provide appropriate resources and personalized support so that all students can continue to progress in their skills and knowledge.

COVID-19 has forced Farmington Public Schools to adapt and change from normal routines. The administration emphasized the importance of staying connected while at home. Teachers have been using their resources to provide students with work to complete at home. With the change in setting, it has altered the way many subjects are taught.

“Connected Learning is allowing me to slow down a bit in terms of the content and skills being covered, which I think can be positive. It is also allowing me to provide very specific on-demand feedback daily to students, which sometimes can be more difficult during an actual school day,” Social Studies teacher Kara Trubia said. 

The overall growing theme throughout teachers, staff, and administration is their longing for the students. 

“The most difficult part for me, and I’m sure for most teachers, is losing the face-to-face connection with students. I miss being able to interact with students one-on-one and as a whole class, and making the little adjustments that come with teaching each unique class. Connected Learning focuses more on the ‘behind the scenes’ work, but I miss being in front of the classroom and with all of my students,” Trubia said. 

As students start to make their transitions from in-school learning to Connected Learning, many students adjusted their schedules to complete the work.

“It has definitely been an adjustment moving to a remote learning style. It is not necessarily the same experience as in school; however, I think it is important to stay motivated and hopefully get to finish senior year with a bit of normality,” senior Sydney Boyd said.

Hurwitz acknowledged some of the challenges as well but is confident that everyone will pull through this. 

“We don’t expect things to be perfect, but are openly receptive to learning and growing together. While we’re away, this is a great opportunity to problem-solve and persist through challenges, critically important life skills. While I wish we didn’t have to take on this challenge, I am confident in the determination of our community,” Hurwitz said. 

Hurwitz also went on to credit junior Voice editor and 9:05 News anchor Ricky Podgoriski on his broadcast on March 13 for his words to the school. 

“As a community, it is up to us to grow from this situation and determine what our legacy will be in the future. FHS we’ve got this,” Podgorski said in his sign-off. 

Feel free to look at the Connected Learning Website  for more information: https://sites.google.com/fpsct.org/fpscl/