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How teachers are using projects to stay connected to students

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JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- With schools being closed across the state, students and teachers had to adapt to online learning.

It was at first a worry for many, including second-grade special education teacher at Johnson City Erin Fahrenbach.

"How are we going to engage second-graders in online learning when they're not right there in front of us?" asked Fahrenbach.

Teachers were forced to get creative to fill a void while not being around students.

Second-grade teacher Heidi Tiderencel says that's been tough to do remotely.

"Throughout a school year you really develop wonderful relationships, strong relationships with your students. And teaching remotely has been a very difficult thing to do for that very reason, because we miss those connections, we miss those daily interactions," said Tiderencel.

In the Johnson City School District, the second-grade team took on a new project based on the book "Flat Stanley."

"We sent each child a flat teacher of ourselves and their assignment was to take us on adventures with them," said Tiderencel.

Over a two-week period, students carried their teachers around, participating in a whole bunch of activities.

"I went to Sesame Street and I went to my piano practice with them," said second-grader Stephen Howell.

The students were then asked to write about what they did, an engaging assignment from the start.

"We've been doing math and reading and writing lessons all along, but it was nice to see something that caught their interest and motivated them to do a little more with their writing," said Fahrenbach.

They say they do this to help stay in touch during a tough time.

"It was just a really fun project to make connections with our kids since we can't be with them in the classroom," said Tiderencel.

For more pictures of the adventures the "Flat Teachers" went on, head over to the Johnson City School District Facebook page.

Annie Flaherty

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