Virginia teacher shares her experience of connecting students, even when learning is virtual

Education

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Adapting to online learning due to COVID-19 can be difficult. That’s why a teacher at Virginia Virtual Academy is sharing one of her experiences in hopes of spreading ideas and helping other teachers.

Teacher Jennifer Smith got an idea to send National Junior Honor Society Students, as well as some fellow teachers and staff at Virginia Virtual Academy, packets of Eastern Redbud tree seeds in the mail. They would all plant them around Earth and Arbor days. 

“We had to trick the seeds. Normally you plant seeds in the fall and they have … the winter. So we had to … put them in the refrigerator so they kind of thought they went through winter,” said Smith.

Everyone was then told to take pictures of them planting the seeds with their families and send them in, so in their next virtual meeting, it would feel more personal. They could all see each other’s pictures.

“So even though everyone’s in a different location, if you can get creative with it do your research, see what everyone else has done too, I  definitely think you can take these experiences that seem daunting in the virtual world and make them a really great experience to bring everybody together,” she said.

10 On Your Side stopped by Norfolk Botanical Garden to see what the trees would look like once they are grown. They have pinkish-purple leaves that bloom in April and turn dark green as summer approaches.

Smith says she encourages other teachers to find ways to connect the students even if they can’t be together physically in a classroom.

“Anything that maybe you are interested in doing that you might be hesitant about doing virtually, I really think you can make it happen,” said Smith.

Smith says 53 National Junior Honor Society students and 27 teachers and staff members participated in the experience. 


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