Sixth-graders at Holley Elementary School were selected twice in the same week to participate in live webinars with professionals as part of the BOCES 2 distance learning program. In October, they asked questions of professional football player Will Shields during the Heart of a Hall of Famer program, and archaeologist Dr. Michele Koons during the Scientists in Action: Ancient Mummies, New Discoveries program. Schools across the U.S. register to participate in webinars like these, but only a handful of classes are selected to participate in live question and answer sessions with the featured speakers.
Participation in live webinars like these help students meet the new standards for digital literacy, where they are required to use digital tools in learning. For the session with Shields, sixth graders researched information about the Kansas City Chiefs offensive player before drafting their questions about his career and the lessons he’s learned from it. The webinar with Dr. Koons helped students kick off their unit on early civilizations. Students asked her several questions about her methods and experiences on archaeological digs. Students enjoyed their moments on the “big screen” as they interacted with the professionals. It was eye-opening for them to gain insight into classrooms across the U.S. as they watched other students participate in the webinar.
Distance learning programs offer school districts virtual fieldtrips at low cost. Donna Farren, the Distance Learning Specialist at BOCES 2, notifies all of our component districts of upcoming opportunities and registers them for programs. She can also connect schools with other classes around the state or in the nation so they can exchange ideas and information by grade level regarding specific subject areas. Students are able to tour places like museums that have exhibits that are not normally open to the public, but they gain a behind-the-scenes view of specific areas of study. The visual presentations and conversations with experts in the field helps students better understand the concepts they are learning.