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Virtual start to the school year running smoothly for local middle school

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Most area school districts began classes last week with some, including La Crosse, opting for an online-only start.

Jennifer Appel, a seventh-grade math and science teacher at Logan Middle School, told News 19 that she's beginning to notice some of the benefits of her virtual classroom.

"They are very interactive. They’re participating," said Appel. "I also noticed they’re turning in homework or little activities we’ve done thus far. They’re doing it right away, so they can enjoy their afternoon."

A majority of Appel's lessons are taught in the morning with the afternoons reserved for 1-on-1 instruction and small group work.

"It’s definitely great for students who may be a little too afraid to ask questions in class," said Appel. "It gives them a separate time to reach out and get help but also builds your relationship with your teacher outside of doing it in front of all of your peers.”

Appel added that virtual learning is also providing parents and guardians the chance to play a more active role in their child's learning.

"I've had parents communicating with me right from the start which is kind of cool in a school year," said Appel. "I'm getting to know them a lot earlier than I normally may have been able to, and it's fun because sometimes they'll even pop into their child's Zoom and kind of take part."

While online classes can't fully replace the value of face-to-face learning or help a teacher read body language, administrators believe this newer type of instruction may be here for good which just might make snow days a thing of the past.

“If somebody is sick or we have snow days or different things happen like that where there is a student that is unable to be within the classroom for whatever reason, it gives us that opportunity that now we have organized this plan, we have our virtual instruction, and we could be ready to go to get the pieces that they would otherwise be missing,” said Logan Middle School Principal Amber Erickson.

With the world turning to more technology like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime, Appel believes this will get kids engaged with technology even more and help them succeed later in life.

“I think it’s preparing them for their future," said Appel. "I think it’s getting them to be more confident in a virtual environment which sets them up for success.”

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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