Parkside teacher gets creative hosting Greek Olympics for in-person and online learners

Local News

NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing teachers to find ways to engage both in-person learners and those choosing to stay online.

Thursday, March 4, sixth graders at Parkside Junior High in Normal competed in a socially distanced Greek Olympic games.

Students in Beth Topping’s sixth-grade social studies class competed in safe versions of javelin throwing (unsharpened pencils), shot put (a wad of paper), and standing long jumps. Topping said this an event she holds every year, but this year she had to socially distance students and account for both in-person and online learners.

“This is my twist on it so that we can all participate in a more socially distanced, individualized Olympic event today,” Topping said.

Topping said she holds the event as a way to celebrate the end of their chapter on Ancient Greece, and didn’t want those learning from home to miss out.

“They’re supposed to be sending me some videos and pictures so we can all appreciate how they did on these events too,” Topping said.

Topping said it’s a nice change of pace from learning behind computer screens and allows kids a hands-on learning approach to the subject.

“Just to be able to get up and move around; and we do a lot on the computer, looking at the computer screen behind our plexiglass dividers. Just to be able to have a little more normal, what they’re used to kind of experience,” Topping said.

Unit 5 Superintendent Dr. Kristen Weikle said Mrs. Topping’s Greek games are a great example of teachers adapting in a school year, not like any other.

“Teachers have had to pivot and adapt things that they’ve traditionally done and that traditional manner and educators are one of a kind and they always step up to the challenge and do what they do because they love working with kids,” Weikle said.

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