By CHARLIE BIER
COVID-19 outbreak hasn't stopped the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's College of Education from developing inventive ways to teach.
Faculty members have created a curriculum that "offers innovative approaches to support families trying to keep kids learning at home during school closures," said Dr. Aimee Barber, a senior instructor in the Department of Educational Curriculum and Instruction.
Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the closure of all K-12 Louisiana public schools beginning on Monday, March 16, until Monday, April 13, to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The "Learning at Home" system maps out a slew of educational exercises designed to engage children and give structure to their days.
One tip suggests taking walks outside with a journal to sketch interesting sights, jot down observations, or make note of plants or insects that can be researched online at home. Another advocates small construction projects using household materials. Other suggestions include converting cooking measurements into math problems, and having children write stories for English lessons.
The syllabus incorporates "life skills" tasks such as making grocery lists and washing clothes, and times for naps and exercise. Lists of virtual museum tours, and websites, YouTube channels and livestreams that deliver educational content are also provided.
The "school day" is outlined in half-hour to one-hour blocks as a traditional day would be.
Barber, however, said the curriculum is designed for parents to pick and choose which components work best for them, and fit into remote work being required of students by their schools. "It's not intended to be rigidly adhered to unless parents want to."
The curriculum is a "living document" to which anyone can offer suggestions for additions. "We want people to give feedback, including information that could help high school students or toddlers," she explained.
Barber relied on a range of experience to coordinate the project. She's a former first-grade teacher, and has "three kids so I have an idea some of the challenges facing parents at home," she said with a laugh. Barber also consulted colleagues from the College of Education, and area elementary school teachers.
"We saw this as an opportunity to give ideas for structure, online learning tools, and fun learning experiences that get kids wondering, moving, learning life skills, and seeing learning as a lifelong endeavor," she said.
"When there's too much emphasis on tests and textbooks, kids think that's all that learning is about. Learning happens everywhere, not just inside a classroom."
For more information about "Learning at Home" or how to access the curriculum, visit https://www.ullearninglab.org/updates/learningathomewithullafayette.