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Elementary specials adjust with COVID

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The elementary school specials–gym, music, art, Project Lead The Way (PLTW)–have been taking extra precautions this school year so that the students can be both safe and have fun.

Jim Pedretti, P.E. teacher at Kingsbury and Riley Elementary, has been making sure that his students can have fun even with all the new safety measures. 

Pedretti has his students use hand sanitizer as soon as they walk in and out of the gym, as well as using six foot markers for social distancing. The students wear their masks the entire time, unless a mask break is needed, and all equipment is sanitized and rotated every 10-15 minutes. 

Lesson planning is more difficult this year and some lessons are modified, but there are few lessons that are the same as before COVID-19. Pedretti has had significant participation from all of his students, and they are doing a great job with all the new precautions. 

 “I’m so glad we haven’t had much time in the ‘red’ zone. I’m thankful we had many weeks in our ‘yellow’ and ‘blue’ zones earlier in the year, until October. The kids miss the fun and socializing that school gives them, as well as better academics, of course,” Pedretti said. 

Shawn Popplewell, P.E. teacher at Hailmann and Kingsford Heights, also makes sure all the kids are able to have fun while being safe. 

Popplewell makes sure all students use hand sanitizer. If equipment is used, it gets cleaned. She also uses paw print floor markers to help with the social distancing. The students are able to take mask breaks at these spots, and it’s a creative way to help the kids know where to stand. 

Lesson planning has been a little more difficult trying to find fun activities that the kids can do at home. Popplewell’s students have adjusted well with all the changes, and she is happy with the results. 

“I would like to thank the adults who are trying so hard to work with the kids at home while they are trying to manage their personal lives. Also a shout out to the classroom teachers-the amount of time and effort that they put into our virtual days is unbelievable. They are working harder than ever to reach as many students as possible. This is a hard time for everyone and we are all trying to do our best for the kids,” Popplewell said

Diane Noveroske, P.E. teacher at Lincoln and Crichfield Elementary, has been helping her students still enjoy gym class, despite the challenges brought by COVID-19.

Like the other gym teachers, Noveroske has her students use hand sanitizer when they enter and leave the classroom, stand on spots six feet apart from one another, and she uses very little equipment. When using equipment, she makes sure to disinfect anything they used. 

For lesson plans, Noveroske and many of the other P.E. teachers work together to think of fun ideas for the kids. Overall she has had a successful year, and although the kids are at home most of the time, Noveroske still gets messages from the students saying how much fun they are having with their exercises. 

“It’s hard to know for sure if they actually did it, but many students send comments that they are having fun doing the P.E. exercises at home. It is always nice to hear comments from the kids,” Noveroske said.

Connie Kaminski, art teacher at Hailmann Elementary and Kingsford Heights, has been keeping art fun for all of her students. 

A big change this year for art classes would be that the students can’t share art supplies, so everytime a student uses a marker or paint brush, it gets sanitized immediately. After each class, all tables are cleaned and readied for the next class. Lesson plans are hard to find due to some students not having art supplies at their house, but Kaminski has adapted lessons so that the students can use pencils and crayons. When the students get to go back, she hopes to do her favorite lessons that involve paint.

“I think the students have done a remarkable job adapting to the changes this school year, and they are doing a great job wearing their masks at school. Huskies and Tigers have shared and created some amazing art,” Kaminski said. 

Katie Talbert, PLTW teacher at Lincoln and Crichfield Elementary, has been following the precautions that were put in place by the LaPorte Community School Corporation. 

Talbert has been working with other PLTW teachers to see what works best. There has been more cleaning in between activities. Talbert and the other PLTW teachers have worked hard to make sure lessons are engaging and follow the curriculum. Student participation is higher when Talbert makes a Loom video. These changes have been hard on the students, but Talbert keeps working hard to make sure that the kids know she is there to help and support them while they are learning. 

We have a great specials teams, and I lean on them for ideas, tech support and motivation during these times. We also have great students, principals, and teachers to work with,” Talbert said. 

Krista Hay, art teacher at Lincoln and Crichfield Elementary, has also been following all LPCSC, Lincoln, and Crichfield precautions. 

Hay makes sure to sanitize all desks in between classes, give the students hand sanitizer when they enter and leave the classroom, and sanitize materials. Lastly she has made individual packets of art materials for the students, which she sanitizes after every use as well. 

Hay has been working hard with the elementary art team to make plans, and she uses Google Slides to make lesson plans for her students. One of the biggest challenges is creating remote lessons similar to what they are working with in class, but with minimal materials. 

She, like the others, has leaned a great deal on her teammates.

“Our Crichfield/Lincoln Related Arts team is amazing! We communicate constantly to make sure we are meeting kids needs, as well as supporting and motivating each other. I think we are doing a great job letting all of our students know we are there for them. We are also so lucky to have amazing support from our principals, parents, and fellow staff members,” Hay said. 

Along with all the other teachers, Liz Kirk, music teacher at Riley and Kingsbury Elementary, has been helping the kids stay safe while having fun.

The students wear their masks and are spaced out as much as possible during the class. Instruments are sanitized after every class, and singing has been reduced to stop the spread of germs. Almost all of her lessons have been changed to keep the students safe. 

So far, it has been successful, but it’s hard because she hasn’t been able to see some of her students since going to the red programming.

 Kirk loves getting comments from her students and positive feedback from her Loom videos.  

“The kids have been great. They have taken all this in stride, and they are amazingly resilient,” Kirk said. 

LaPorte is lucky to have such a wonderful elementary specials staff to help the kids have fun during these unprecedented times. 

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