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Trying to keep her students engaged during the shutdown of schools because of the coronavirus pandemic, Attleboro High teacher Adeline Bee asked them to write an essay from home comparing and contrasting similar books or movies.

She said she got some interesting responses.

One student wrote a piece comparing how different actors have portrayed the Joker character in Batman productions over the years.

Others compared a movie to the book it was based on, or two movies from the same genre.

It’s the type of work teachers all across the country are doing since schools have been closed in an attempt to slow the spread of the potentially deadly virus.

Local school superintendents said their teachers are trying to keep the students engaged and busy and their brains occupied during the prolonged shutdown.

They admit sending lessons home or having children watch educational videos do not adequately replace classroom learning, but it can keep children’s minds on learning while school is out.

“It can never take the place of what the kids experience in the classroom,” North Attleboro Superintendent Scott Holcomb said.

Also, students will not be tested or graded on what they learn at home during the break, Attleboro Superintendent David Sawyer said.

He said the work should be considered enrichment and not a substitute for a regular classroom.

Both Sawyer and Holcomb said not every child has access to the internet so virtual classrooms are not considered a substitute for school by the state.

Sawyer said another problem with the shutdown is it came so quickly that teachers had to scramble to find materials to direct their students toward.

Another option for home learning, Holcomb said, is age-appropriate programming the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is working with WGBH television to provide during the shutdown.

In the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District, Superintendent Anthony Azar has sent a message to parents explaining teachers are sending students materials they can read and links to programming such as Google Classroom.

“In summary,” he wrote, “our extended learning opportunities continue to grow and we encourage families and students to access our resources daily.”

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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