Edgenuity

Edgenuity is one of the online teaching programs being used by the Ellensburg School District this year.

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Teachers in the Virtual Academy are dedicated to teaching their class of students remotely for the semester. With over one third of Ellensburg students in the Virtual Academy, teachers in the academy must learn to use the new online programs.

The district has decided to start all classes remote, although in two different learning models. There is the Virtual Academy which students signed up for before school started and will have all classes online for the next semester. There is also the hybrid model, which will return students to in-person education as soon as it is safe.

Like students, teachers need to register to teach Virtual Academy classes. There are some such as Ellensburg High School teacher Jesse Stueckle who teach for both the hybrid model and the academy.

ESD decided to find new learning programs that would remain constant through all teachers, schools and grade levels. The new online learning programs are Schoology and Edgenuity.

According to Executive Director of Student Services Kelly Kronbauer, teachers mainly used Google classroom in the spring, but were also allowed to use any programs they wanted. This led to an “overwhelming” number of learning programs for students and families.

Now, teachers are using the new programs for the first time with their students. Ellensburg High School teacher Charlie Acheson has been with the district for 10 years, said he is having some trouble adjusting to the new programs.

“It’s like being a first-year teacher again, everything is brand new,” he said. “That can be stressful but it’s also very exciting.”

Acheson decided he wanted to teach fully online in June because he is concerned with the dangers posed by COIVD-19, and felt ESD would be starting school online, no matter how much everyone wanted to resume in-person education.

His daughter has underlying health conditions, which makes her a higher risk for COVID-19. Because of this, he has kept all his kids in the Virtual Academy, and he is teaching all his classes through it.

He said, as a teacher, the new programs are currently making remote education more difficult than it was in the spring, but it will become better when everyone starts to get used to it.

IMPROVE WITH PRACTICE

Jesse Stueckle also said the programs will improve with practice and will likely become better than the online teaching platforms used in spring.

“I think we are still trying to learn what the limitations are with the new platforms,” Stueckle said. “How best to utilize them, and I think experience will probably be the best teacher there. I think it’s important to get feedback from our students and to listen carefully to them. Then move forward and make adjustments and make changes.”

Stueckle is teaching one Virtual Academy class and one hybrid class, although both are currently being taught online. He is also teaching classes at Thorp High School.

Mount Stuart Elementary teacher Joe Chang registered to teach Virtual Academy classes because the academy needed teachers. Normally, Chang teaches second grade, but jumped up a grade level because the school needed a third-grade teacher for Virtual Academy students.

For him, the new programs have largely been an improvement. He said there are some small issues, but nothing that can’t be fixed in a few days. The best part about the program for Chang was his students were excited to start the new year, even if that meant remote education.

“So far, so great, it was excellent,” Chang said. “The kids came in just ready to roll, ready for it start. You didn’t see any sadness from missing their friends in person. We began at 8:30 with the whole group virtual meeting, and they were already hyped up, they didn’t need anything from me they were ready to go.”

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