GLEN ROCK, NJ – For weeks now, schools have been navigating the uncharted routine of distance learning, and after the governor's announcement, it will continue through the end of this school year in June.

After the state ordered the closure of schools as part of an overall effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, students and their teachers were forced to adapt to the new normal. Gov. Phil Murphy has thrice extended the shutdown order, with the most recent extension lasting through the end of the school year.

In Glen Rock, depending on the grade level, students spend between four to six hours each school day engaged in learning activities. Educators across the district have thought up unique and creative approaches for those remote lessons, ranging from participating in a virtual autopsy to creating historical news segments using Tik ToK.

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Superintendent Dr. Brett Charleston said, "Our Glen Rock teachers have been tasked with an unprecedented challenge and they have truly risen to the occasion. Through collaboration, research and experimentation, our teachers are developing teaching plans each week to meet the needs of Glen Rock Public School students in the virtual classroom. We are so proud of this dedication they have put forth to create a learning environment that is engaging, thoughtful and memorable, as well as in line with the superior education of our district."

In a May 1 letter to the school community, Charleston wrote, “The feedback on Virtual Instruction that we have been receiving has been, overwhelmingly, positive, but we know it is not perfect and that there is still more we can do. There has been and will continue to be more face-to-face contact, more instructional resources, continued assessment and feedback.”

“The contributions from our teachers and administrators have been remarkable as we continue to provide support to our teachers and students each and every day,” he said. “Our teachers and support staff are working constantly and in new ways to make distance learning engaging and meaningful.”

The Glen Rock Board of Education recently recognized several teachers from around the district. Click here to see a full round-up of teacher and lesson highlights.

Here are a few noteworthy lessons conducted remotely over the past month.

Glen Rock Middle School

  • Michael Valentino set up his 6th grade science students in an “interactive learning classroom,” where they can engage in real-time discussions, respond to video prompts and perform virtual lab investigations/research-based projects. The setup blends “the feel of a traditional, structured classroom environment with the ability to complete tasks and activities at the student’s own pace outside classroom hours.”

Glen Rock High School

  • Nicole Nuckley connected her Intro to Forensics class with the University of St. Louis Medical School for an interactive autopsy dissection – virtually. Students participated in an autopsy procedure in the university’s medical school labs.
  • Lorna Girgin created a series of guided screencasts for her 9th grade English class to help students get through the tougher sections of Romeo & Juliet. The screens featured annotated pictures/notes. She also recently hosted a class-wide read-aloud of a section of Romeo & Juliet, allowing students to sign up on a Google doc to read parts and students were then able to participate in a virtual improv game.
  • Kathleen Walter assigned her juniors in US History II sections of World War II to create news segments on. Using Tik ToK and research, students took on the role of wartime journalists.
  • Ashley Yancy had her English 10 Advanced class create a “Holden Approval Graph” as part of the “Catcher in the Rye” unit. Students graphed their opinion of Holden across the chapters and then analyzed the data. After that, they uploaded their graphs in a discussion post so the entire class could see and comment.
  • Nicole Rusin started “Free Sculpture Fridays” for students in her Advanced Sculpture class. The lesson encourages students to engage in creative, open-ended, theme-based work. A recent them was “balance” and students were encouraged to get outside or use household items to create the assignment. After, students posted their work online and critiqued their classmates’ sculptures.

Alexander Hamilton Elementary School

  • Jenna Pelaez, a special education teacher, has been providing 13 “live” meetings for her 8 multisensory reading groups each week. She has also been working with her 1st grade reading class twice each week and her 5th grade writing class twice each week. She uses a combination of individualized lessons and live instruction so that she is able to see how her students are doing.
  • John Diomede, a music teacher, has been working hard to make sure his students still have meaningful learning experiences. Fourth- and fifth-grade students enrolled in instrumental music meet with Diomede weekly in Zoom conferences to talk about new material they’ll be covering, as well as check in for understanding and progress in demonstrating those skills. Students also submit video assignments weekly for review. Diomede’s third grade students are continuing their recorder studies at home. He has been posting video lessons and demonstrations for students to watch, as well as meeting individually with them to offer feedback and assistance.

Central Elementary School

  • Ashley Baldeon begins her virtual Kindergarten learning with a daily morning meeting to help her students transition to virtual learning and go over routines and expectations.

Clara E. Coleman Elementary School

  • Al Bazaz, a music teacher, has been conducting lessons online and also sharing a song or inspirational positive message for students to reflect upon.

Byrd Elementary School

  • Jenn Burke provides her fifth graders with read-alouds, engaging writer lessons, virtual math class and always makes time and virtual space for kids to connect with one another online.