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New Normal is no Problem at Seaford Middle School

Learning looks a little different this year at Seaford Middle School but teachers and students have adapted to a new environment that balances both education and safety.

Instead of hundreds of students in the hallways between periods, they are assigned to one classroom for the day, with teachers coming to them. Each grade is clustered in a different area of the school, and all desks have protective barriers.

Students use their district-provided laptops to access their course material, submit assignments and work collaboratively with classmates. Each classroom is equipped with a camera to provide live instruction to students on full remote instruction.

Seventh grade science teacher Roseann Zeblisky said that because not all of her classes are in a science room, she has been creative with lessons, relying on technology. Her students use a program called Gizmos to do virtual labs.

“Everything is on a screen, but it is as if they are using the real tools,” she said.

For a lesson on motion, in which students studied direction, position and displacement, they used Minecraft to design a town and create a route through it with a start point and end point. Students worked in groups using a chat feature. Once the projects were done, students then tried to navigate through the digital towns made by other groups.

“It’s a fun and unique way to express your creativity,” seventh grader Tommy Sen said. “This is definitely a new way of learning science and I love it.”

Technology teacher Matthew Dolan gave every student in his eighth grade robotics classes a lollipop and asked them to write directions on how to open it and eat it. This gave them an understanding of how computer programming works, and the important of being detail and specific. After each student wrote directions, another student would act as the robot to see if the directions were successful.

Students do get a break from their classrooms for physical education. In the gym, there are markers spaced out 12 feet apart, where students do warmup exercises and light aerobic activities. On nice days, they go outside to the track and turf field for social distancing activities that also require minimal sharing of equipment. Student can walk, jog or run around the track, or play field games such as Cornhole and Kan Jam.

Physical education teacher Cara Klasson said healthy bodies lead to healthy minds, so students learn activities they can do on their own to maintain an active lifestyle.

For incoming sixth graders, the transition to middle school hasn’t been quite what they would have expected a year ago, but they are still excited about the change and to be back in school after remote-only instruction from March through June. Michael Kofod and Molly Montagano, who both attended Harbor Elementary School, said they like having different teachers for the different subjects and getting to make new friends from Manor Elementary School.

“It’s nice being back,” Molly said, “and being in a new school starting a new chapter.”