Middle school teacher in Starkville uses film equipment to enhance virtual learning

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STARKVILLE, MISS. (WCBI) – Armstrong Junior High school teachers have chosen Tri Nason as teacher of the month because of his commitment to helping students succeed through virtual learning.

Tri Nason has been using zoom to help students since back in 2016.

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So when Armstrong Junior High was planning how to handle classes during the pandemic, Nason was more than ready to help students through the virtual learning experience.

In just his second year at Armstrong Junior High school, the history teacher and football coach has been running fully virtual classes since the semester started back up in late August, but his experience with teaching through Zoom predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In order to help my students not fall too far behind, we had to come up with a way to still meet even if we were out of school for snow, so what we started doing was I actually started using Zoom in 2016,” said Nason.

About 40 percent of the student body at Armstrong Junior high take virtual classes. Coach Nason is responsible for 140 students this semester.

Zoom sessions with students start at 8:45 in the morning. The first thing he does is review how exactly they can find the material and do their assignments.”

“Before I can teach them history, I need to make sure they understand the learning system,” said Nason.

Nason’s set-up includes a video camera, a high-end microphone and light stands to give students the best Zoom sessions possible.

He uses a green screen background to display images related to that day’s lesson.

“If they get tired of looking at me, which, I believe they would, I would get tired of looking at me, they can zone out into the background that they see and they can be learning that way,” said Nason.

Nason says he often will play a pre-recorded lecture, then use Zoom sessions for class discussion.

“Instead of me telling them what they need to know, I’ve already given them what they need to know and they can come to Zoom and they can ask me, ‘I didn’t quite understand it, help me understand this better,” said Nason.

He says the more personal setting of the online classes can help students learn at their own pace.

“They have the chance to come into a smaller group setting without 25-30 peers and ask a real question they may have been scared to ask in a classroom full of people their age,” said Nason.

Nason says that early on, adapting to the virtual learning style was like asking students to go from riding a tricycle to a motorcycle.

But he says since then, they’ve improved in leaps and bounds and that he is committed to helping them continue to move in the right direction.

“If I’m expecting my students to put their best effort into everything they do, then I want to give them the best I can,” he says.