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Phoenix teacher uses costumes, props to keep students engaged online

Callie Krohn
Posted at 8:32 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 10:17:56-05

PHOENIX — Parents, students and teachers have been juggling the challenges of virtual learning for months. The spread of COVID-19 has kept some districts learning online since March.

However, teachers across Arizona are going to great lengths to make it work.

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ABC15 first met Callie Krohn in December of 2019. It was clear the first-grade teacher felt most at home surrounded by her students at Catalina Ventura Elementary School in Phoenix.

Fast forward to 2020 and things look a bit different, but her passion and energy remain the same.

"There's another buzzword now, it's 'edutaining,.'" Krohn said. "So how can I make this exciting, give them that positive energy going all day long."

"Doctor Science" is one of many characters in Krohn's repertoire for keeping 31 first-graders, and their families, engaged. Their district, Alhambra Elementary, has been learning virtually since March.

She repurposed her daughters' dance class backdrops for story time with "Mother Goose," uses costumes and props whenever she can. All while juggling a half dozen devices, seven hours of live daily instruction and troubleshooting technology issues.

"The mental bandwidth is so much greater in online teaching for the teacher," said Krohn. "Some of our families, this is the first device they've had in their homes, so it has been a huge learning curve for all of us. They're resilient. They get frustrated and they keep coming back."

In a year filled with so many challenges and changes, Krohn says she is savoring the silver linings.

"I've never had the kinds of relationships with the families in all of my years that I do right now," said Krohn. "It's personal, this year is personal."

"They're resilient! they get frustrated, and they keep coming back."