Learning from a distance

Pam Cassidy, a math teacher at Baker High School, writes equations on the board. Her class copies them down as a whole, but not all of her students are sitting in front of her, or even in Baldwinsville.

Four of her students are sitting 50 miles away in a distance learning classroom in McGraw, video conferencing into Cassidy's class.

Balwinsville is broadcasting a college level calculus course to four students in McGraw who would otherwise not have been able to take the class. The McGraw students use cameras to see the class at Baker and Cassidy's computer screen as she writes. They fax their homework to Cassidy in the morning. They are still able to ask questions and talk to Cassidy, like the students in Baldwinsville.

"The important thing is we have four students that might not have had the chance to take calculus and get college credit," Cassidy said. "In the long run that's what we do it for. We do it for the students."

McGraw was unable to offer the course because of scheduling constraints, said Mary Curcio, the superintendent for the McGraw Central School District.

A mother of a senior in the school approached Curcio about the lack of math classes for advanced math students. As a previous math teacher, Curcio said she understood the importance of having math all four years.

"That's what should happen," she said. "Parents should be advocating for their children and superintendents should be advocating for their students."

She then put a call out to superintendents in the area over the listserv asking for a school to partner with them to teach the class. Baldwinsville was one of two districts and was chosen based on scheduling, she said.

"We're so grateful Baldwinsville took it," she said, adding she gives Cassidy, the teacher of the course, a lot of credit for taking the class because the technology provides extra work for Cassidy.

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