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'We don't want parents to feel like they have to become a teacher' | Guilford County Schools explains online learning

The district is utilizing a program called Canvas, where students can access lessons, ask questions and even have interactive classroom discussions.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Online schooling starts in four short days for Guilford County Schools. 

The district is utilizing a program called Canvas, where students will be able to access lessons and ask their teachers questions.

These are step-by-step instruction on how to access Canvas.

"There's a mobile app for parents, teachers can also download this mobile app," Executive Director of Student Assignment Rashad Slade said. "So on our GCS homepage what we've added on there is step by step instructions and its really important that parents who want to use this mobile app follow without missing any of those steps."

Slade said Canvas is nothing new. The district has been using it for 5 years, especially in middle schools. But never district-wide. 

He said the district tried to make it as easy as possible for students.

"The student view is a lot less congested than the teacher view and that's done intentionally."

Teachers and students are able to interact by sending messages in the inbox, located on the left sidebar. Teachers can even start discussions so learning can continue to be interactive.  

"If the teacher wants to create a classroom discussion and just have students reply to that, the students will see a discussion link on the side" Slade explained. "The teacher has already set the topic and students get to reply to that topic."

Jenn McClinton, an Elementary Literacy Supervisor at GCS, says the goal is for teachers to still do the teaching. 

"We want the content to go out in a way that kids know what they're doing," McClinton said. "They've seen this the entire school year, we're not putting out any new content so kids are able to figure out what's on here on their own and complete the activities so parent don't feel like 'oh now I have to become a teacher' because that's not an easy task to do."

McClinton says the learning will be reviews of course material that's already been discussed in class, as to not overwhelm both parents and students during this unprecedented situation.

"We’re trying to push out content that they’re comfortable with," McClinton stated. "No new learning, just repeated learning and reviews so they don’t feel scared that this is something that they haven’t learned before."

Teachers will be recording videos or voicing over powerpoint presentations.

"I'm excited because we have some teachers who have truly made their Canvas page their own," Adjoa Botwe-Rankin, a district Elementary Math Supervisor said.  

District leaders encourage parents and students to start getting a feel for Canvas now. Don't wait until Monday morning, when online learning officially starts.

"We're really trying to make sure students can get in there, teachers are giving them what they need so parents are just really the facilitators of the practice," McClinton explained.  

And remember, you don't have to login at 8 a.m. when school normally starts. Much of online learning will be self-paced because the district understands all parents are operating on different schedules in this unprecedented time.

"Everything is saved, everything is always there so if there is a parent that needs to do it at night because they have to work they can always access the resources," Botwe-Rankin said. 

Do you have the technology needed for online learning?

The district said 23% of their student's households don't have the technology to support online schooling.

GCS was originally planning to work with libraries and utilize computer labs. But now local libraries are closed. 

The district says a plan is in the works. A delivery of 5,300 iPads should arrive at the end of March. 

If you don't have a device, make sure you call the principal of your child's school to let them know. 

GCS says they will NOT be taking attendance during the online learning period, so no one will be at a disadvantage. 

Days will not count against students who do not have a laptop or other means to access Canvas. 

Are your child's books stuck at school?

Don't fret!

McClinton says the reading materials will be on Canvas.

"This is the student reader and when they click on it, it's going to download as a PDF and show them the actual book that they would have had."

Also, district leaders say bus drivers will drop off your student's reading materials if you call the school and request it.

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