Continuing education online has been one of the many unexpected transitions of the COVID-19 crisis. To make this easier on elementary school students in grades K-6, Auburn University’s Martina McGhee is one of a few faculty members in the College of Education launching the Home Works program, a program designed to help elementary school kids get the most out of learning from home.
“The Home Works program is a new program,” said McGhee, a first-year professor at Auburn and an experienced educator of 12 years. “‘Distance learning curriculum’ is the way we’re marketing it.”
McGhee explained how she has always had a passion for helping children understand academic concepts from within their own home, and said that she always wants her students to understand why they are being taught the subjects they are.
“This idea of helping children understand academic concepts at-home is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said McGhee. “I taught elementary school students in Houston for eight years, and it was always important for me to make sure my students understood why I was teaching what I was teaching.”
Students in the College of Education have been working to think of activities for elementary school kids to learn with materials they already have in their households. The Auburn students work to make lesson plans, videos and activities that children between the ages of 5 to 12 will be not only able to do at home but also be able to understand on their own.
Education students, along with their motivations to help the Auburn community, have worked on the program in place of a state and national requirement to have a certain number of hours spent face-to-face with children unattainable because of the pandemic. In the past, the requirement has been reached through a three-week on-STEM camp for local community students.
“Because we’re not able to do that because the University originally suspended on-campus activities until June 30, we had to reimagine what this looks like,” McGhee said. “We are getting creative to get our students doing purposeful work where they are learning how to teach, but also not just writing lesson plans and doing activities for the sake of doing it… we want to impact our community.”
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The Home Works program is described as a three-pronged program with three purposes. Firstly, to support children that the students in the College of Education do not have access to by way of at-home learning activities; secondly, to make a connection between home and school; and thirdly to make sure that students, teachers, and parents at home are all provided with the resources to do just that.
“Our goal for our Home Works fundraiser was $17,700, and we were able to meet that goal”, said McGhee. “A large portion of that will go towards printing and binding the curriculum and making resources available to the community. As we produce this curriculum, we want to make sure that families in our local community have access to it. It will be available online, but we also plan on printing and binding the curriculum as well, for people who do not have access to computers.”
As Home Works builds and develops, McGhee said she has faith that the program will be easy to continue further into the fall semester and beyond.
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