Home videos keep AP class on course during snowy season

Posted March 3, 2015

Many North Carolina students had class for only two days in the last two weeks because of the icy weather. But that doesn’t mean some of them haven’t been learning, or that teachers have stopped teaching.

On Friday morning at Millbrook High School in Wake County, Mark Grow carefully sidestepped an icy pathway where someone was shoveling.

“It’s been pretty slippery trying to get in and out of the building,” he said as he walked inside a school pod.

Grow teaches an advanced placement course on human geography. Even though class has been out of session for a while now, he’s been putting in hours to make sure students don’t fall behind. This week, he made two YouTube videos.

“What I want to do today is go over some types of economic activities, some stuff that you’ll see in the book,” he explains in the video. “We haven’t really talked about it too much in class because of the snow.”

Grow said he makes the videos, which his wife tapes with an iPhone, so students are ready for the big A.P. test at the end of the year, which he can’t move.

“They know that we’ve been out for two weeks and that the test isn’t going away, but also that school isn’t going away and that there are certain things we’ve got to do,” he explained.

Across the hallway is another A.P. teacher – David Beller. He has also spent the last couple of weeks putting together online lectures and sending out assignments to his history and world religion students.

“I’ve come up with a series of online lectures where it’s a PowerPoint, but then there’s my little floating head in the top corner,” Beller said. “I walk my students through the French revolution and the rise and decline of Napoleon.”

Beller said he’s not naive and realizes that some students may not be caught up by the time they’re back in school. He also realizes that not everyone has access to the internet at home.

“So that’s why I’m trying to push for donations, so we have laptops in the classroom and they can access these resources that are online.”

One student who does have access at home is 17-year-old Rachel Navarro, who’s in Grow’s human geography course.

“When I saw he [Grow] was posting those videos, I was like ‘thank you!’” she exclaimed. “It like kind of put a little stress off of you that at least your teachers understand…that they’re not just leaving you hanging.”

Navarro has a couple of other A.P. classes she’s been keeping up with during the snow days. She plans to work over the weekend after she spends Friday night with friends.

“It’s nice to have breaks,” she said.

This report first appeared on WUNC/North Carolina Public Radio as part of their education coverage. Reema Khrais is the 2014 Fletcher Fellow focused on Education Policy Reporting. The Fletcher Fellowship is a partnership between WUNC and UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication funded in part by the Fletcher Foundation.


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  • Mark Freeman Mar 3, 2015
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    Working on a snow day!? These teachers definitely deserve a raise ;-)

  • Ginger Lynn Mar 3, 2015
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    This also enables rural schools that might not other wise be able to offer some of these courses becausefinding funding a teacher for AP Chinese or AP Calculus might be difficult if only a few students are interested in taking it. It opens up alot of opportunities.

  • Fred-Jennifer Williams Mar 3, 2015
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    This is great! I have been working from home and learning from home for a while now. As long as you have power, you are not constrained with geographical problems.