UM Education Student Teaches Missoula Online Academy Learning Module | Local news

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In the basement of a house in the upper Rattlesnake neighborhood this week, Alex Carey circled a table of four Missoula third-graders typing on laptops.

On one wall, a poster showed multiplication tables and on another, student art projects gave the space a splash of color. In the background was a dry-erase board with the schedule for the day.

“Alex, how do you spell ‘spoken?’ Asked Lucie Moriarity, one of the third grade students.

“Let’s spell it out,” Carey replied, as she knelt next to Lucie to speak one letter at a time. The third graders worked on narrative writing before switching to quiet reading time. Later today they would take their Unit 1 test.

In a smaller room down the hall, two kindergarten children could be heard ringing the letter “M” in the background.

“Mum, mum, mum, mum,” echoed in the hallway, as the kindergarten children accentuated their “M” sounds. Carey heard one of them call her name, and she was gone to help him with whatever he needed.

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The University of Montana education student has been working as a home teacher for the six-student group since day one of school for the Missoula Online Academy (MOA) through Missoula County Public Schools. She was hired by three families who teamed up to form a learning module for their children.

“You just walk in and you feel like you’re in school,” said Meaghan Moriarity, mother of the group’s third-grade twins Lucie and Amelia. “When we go to work, she brings the kids together and gets them ready, and that’s as normal as it gets, I think right now.”

Carey teaches students four days a week, working alongside their MOA teachers and developing part of their own curriculum to complement online academy courses.

She is with them from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays and for longer periods on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until 4:30 p.m.

Between the two age groups, Carey simultaneously teaches students at two completely different stages of development.

“It can be difficult at times,” she said. “I’m going to kind of guide one of the age groups through an activity, whether it’s an online task that they have through the online academy or something… then I’ll move on to it. ‘other group while the first group is sort of working independently. . “

She also has the opportunity to develop her own study program. Thanks to the MOA, the kids are technically “in school” every day from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, “so on Tuesdays and Thursdays, those extra two and a half hours after that it’s a bit of my planning,” says Carey. .

The group has started to call this extra time “inquiry time” and Carey needs to make sure that classes are geared towards both Kindergarten and Grade 3 students.

“It’s a little difficult to find a happy medium, where we do activities that are mentally stimulating and interesting and at the kindergarten and third grade level,” she said. “Last week, our investigation in the spirit of Halloween, we did a skeletal investigation. We explored bones, played games, did activities, and learned about the skeletal system. “

The experience has been invaluable in terms of real-world learning, she said.

“I learn so much in all of my courses (UM) and this is obviously information that I will take with me as my professional career progresses, but having the hands-on experience is amazing when it comes to management strategies. class and class planning and having that kind of real, tangible experience.

Specializing in mathematics, Carey particularly enjoyed working with third-grader Charlie Schmidt, who has an affinity for the subject.

“It’s nice to be able to guide her in some way,” said Carey, adding that it’s a topic that tends to get a bad rap. “I’ve had great math teachers, so I kind of want to take on that role and be this great math teacher who makes math fun, interesting and relevant to other students. “

Carey is a full-time student in addition to teaching the module, which she admitted has been difficult at times.

“I definitely have to practice my time management skills to be able to do it all, but I don’t think I would really like it any other way right now,” she said, adding that she was as well. paid, so it is more than the value of any sacrifice.

All parents in the group work in healthcare and came together this summer to deliver a distance learning setup for their children that provides consistency, structure and social interaction and would allow them to continue working with their patients safely.

“I am a healthcare worker, I run a business and I need to work, my husband needs to work and we also needed something that felt safe enough for us,” said Angela Listug- Vap, mother of students Logan and Levi. Vap, in third grade and kindergarten.

The module also enabled their children to learn alongside a small group of peers, which families saw as an essential part of their education.

“In the spring and summer we were so isolated that I really wanted the kids to be with kids,” Listug-Vap said. “I think children need other children to learn. It brings them joy.

Moriarity, Listug-Vap and the group’s third mom, Samantha Schmidt, said they worked with Carey on an action plan and safety protocols they all agreed to follow to keep the capsule safe. Schmidt’s daughter Charlie and kindergarten son Robin are in the pod.

“We’re all living very intentionally in the sense that our kids aren’t doing any extracurricular activities in the community, and we’re sort of saying we’re all kind of living under those phase one restrictions,” Moriarity said.

Carey is even taking online classes only this semester to limit his interaction with other UM students.

“She makes huge sacrifices to be part of this group in terms of social restrictions that we have all accepted. She has been an amazing pod instructor and so willing to live in this very careful way so that she can be a part of the pod, ”Listug-Vap said.

Carey said she feels a strong responsibility to keep the entire group safe.

“We all agree on these conditions … I can do my part to make sure children are safe and families are safe in these uncertain times,” she said, adding that this means also give up social gatherings with friends.

So far, they have had a few instances where a family in the group has had to quarantine themselves for a short time, but otherwise it has been quite successful.

“We had our ups and downs, especially at the start, but we all had to support each other the whole time, and it went really well,” said Moriarity.

For kids, having Carey in the room has made all the difference since the spring when they had the support of their parents and grandparents rather than a teacher-in-training.

“What’s so much better now than last spring is that they are really having fun learning. They feel like the pod is a highlight of their week, ”Listug-Vap said. “I don’t think it replaces the whole school experience, but for our family I think it was the right decision to bring as much magic as possible to this strange school year.”

Moriarity said Carey was able to create what looks like two-dimensional learning through the three-dimensional online academy, as well as providing a more typical school structure that children are used to.

“Last night at dinner (Lucie and Amelia) were talking about how they were going to have a ‘star of the week’ in their class, and they were planning a little Halloween party. It has provided them with some of that normalcy that they so missed last spring and is very important in their stage of development, ”said Moriarity.

Currently engaged in the pod until the end of December, Carey and the families are unsure of what the spring semester will look like in terms of options for schooling through MCPS, but all parties are hopeful that they can continue the pod to some extent.

Carey, who is also the Hellgate High School first-grade girls basketball coach, said her schedule would be a bit more difficult once the basketball season begins, if it begins.

“It’s a really big time commitment, so I’m weighing my options, but I would absolutely love to continue working with the pod if possible. “

Her favorite part of teaching the pod? Getting to know the families and children involved, which is why she first started teaching.

“The most important thing for me in all aspects of my life is the element of human connection and the ability to connect with other people and build relationships. This is something that is a very big part. teaching that often isn’t really focused on, “she said.” If you ask any teacher, they’ll tell you it’s the students and it’s those relationships that matter. It’s a great group of kids and I love working with them.

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