Teachers prepare innovative plans ahead of launch of Duval HomeRoom

Although the setting & technology will be different than inside a classroom, teachers say they are excited to interact & challenge students in a new way

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With virtual learning set to kick off Monday morning for Duval County students, the Duval HomeRoom website is set to launch Sunday night.

According to Duval County Public Schools, the site will include links to learning materials and instructions for families so that students can learn remotely while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duval County School Board on Saturday began the process of checking out laptops to eligible students. The process will continue into next week, and a total of 25,000 devices will be distributed.

Teachers are now preparing plans in innovative ways to virtually reach 130,000 Duval County students.

“Even though I’m in my kitchen, there’s content, curriculum, lesson plans. There’s organization in place. There are all kinds of things that were ready to make this happen,” Jack Leon, LaVilla School of Arts teacher, said in a video posted on the DCPS Twitter page.

“I’ll be able to do some things that I’ve been wanting to with Apple Pencil and drawing on the screen and really getting a lot more engagement then I probably would be getting in the classroom because they will have to ask questions, they’ll have to check in with me. They’ll be forced to communicate,” Levonne Griggs, Westside High School teacher, said in another video posted on the DCPS Twitter page.

“I’m so excited. I’ve missed them. I think that all teachers were just excited to get to reconnect to our students. Even though it’s from a distance, we all, as teachers, want to have that instruction,” said Lacy Harbison, Saint Clair Evans Elementary School teacher, said in a video shared by DCPS.

Although the setting and technology will be different than inside a classroom, teachers said that they are excited to interact and challenge students in a new way.

“What I’m doing is more of a blended approach, and I’m going to be giving assignments on Monday mornings, giving them the week to complete those, and meeting for video conferencing with them three times a week for about 30 minutes,” Leon said.

“The process of that I’ve been going through is to make sure they understand the ground rules being online because it’s a little different, so that’s the first thing we’re going to do as we open up on Monday morning -- what are the ground rules to communicate and how our lessons will be delivered,” Griggs said.

Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said it’s not a requirement to start right at 8 a.m., but it’s critical for students to log into their courses and keep up with the work. Teachers will only be available from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.

“This is definitely something that, for our community, is a new journey and I can only say how impressed I am,” Greene said.

The Duval HomeRoom website includes links and learning materials, instructions for families, and bus route information where families can pick up educational materials and school lunch.

“I mean, she’s a little nervous about it because it’s something new about it. The only thing she does now is that they been, in fact, utilizing some of the systems already in their classroom setting,” said a parent of a Duval County student who did not want to be identified

Duval HomeRoom website can be found at Dcps.duvalschools.org beginning Sunday evening. Just go to the district website, find the Duval HomeRoom banner and then go to the grade level of the student.

There is a plan to continue education and resources are available for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). DCPS posted this on its website:

"For the safety of students and staff members, services will be adjusted in this model.

"ESOL and ESE students on General Education standards will use the same prescribed general education platforms and meet the same expectations with applicable accommodations.

"ESE teachers will provide services and supports in collaboration with the content area teacher.

ESE students following Access Points standards will use teacher-assigned, on-line Unique Learning System (ULS) lessons/activities or ULS adapted paper packets. Teachers of the gifted will provide enrichment activities and online resources aligned to gifted frameworks."

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