MUSCATINE, Iowa–In a typical school year, Jefferson Elementary School teacher Lisa Seaba helps students improve their reading skills as a Title I reading teacher for kindergarten through second grade students. However, when COVID-19 led the district to add virtual classes for students whose families wanted them, she stepped up to the challenge of teaching kindergarten online. Since the beginning of the school year, Seaba and her 18 students have met virtually each day, learning together how to create the best online learning experience possible.
Though working with such young students online may sound daunting, Seaba has found the experience overwhelmingly positive and believes her class has had a good first year year of elementary school so far. “They’re just the best kids and the most supportive parents–we’re a team,” she shared.
Wanting to provide a unique experience to her students, especially in a year when they cannot take conventional field trips, Seaba applied for an Internet2 Community Anchor Program distance learning scholarship. Through this scholarship, teachers could earn a free virtual fieldtrip for their class provided by the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration.
In her scholarship application, Seaba requested a virtual tour of Rocky Mountain National Park for her class, an intriguing virtual trip that would relate to subjects they had studied. “We read several books in language arts about moose and bears and other animals that live in the woods, and this is a great way to tie these fictional stories to real life,” she explained.
Early in February, Seaba learned she had, in fact, received the scholarship she applied for, making her the only teacher in Iowa to get one of the 38 awards. Both she and her students felt very excited when they received the news, and everyone looks forward to the virtual trip tentatively scheduled for the third week of February.
A live tour, Seaba looks forward to giving her students the chance to interact with a real Rocky Mountain National Park tour guide, who can answer their questions about the animals and habitats they learn about on the tour. “We’ll have a guide, so it will really be more personal for them because they can talk to the guide,” she detailed.
Most of all, Seaba hopes to give her students an exciting real world experience that they can enjoy and participate in from the safety of their own homes. “I think it’s really wonderful to give kids that background information and to let them enjoy and see things other kids might not”
Though the Internet2 Community Anchor Program distance learning scholarship only provides for one online virtual learning experience, Seaba looks forward to finding other unique ways for her students to keep learning and growing online.