"It's actually very, very relaxing," senior Ethan Snead, 17, said Tuesday morning during break from the online classwork he was doing during Homestead's second e-learning flex day.
Southwest Allen County Schools was one of 12 school districts in Indiana granted state approval to hold e-learning flex days this school year. The district chose to implement the program at Homestead, which has 2,300 students.
The first flex day took place Sept. 23. The remaining scheduled days are Nov. 19 and Dec. 11.
While Homestead students worked on classroom assignments online Tuesday, their teachers received training on how to make better use of technology for learning in the classroom and with students online, said Park Ginder, Homestead principal.
Homestead, and the school district, also hope to use e-learning on snow days or other days when severe weather cancels school.
In addition, flex day training also has helped when teachers are absent, Ginder said. Teachers who will be away can create lessons that have educational value, and students can do them online while a substitute teacher is in the classroom.
Students said teachers did a better job Tuesday than on the first flex day of planning the right amount of work for each class and making it useful learning rather than busy work. The My Big Campus computer software students use to access assignments also seemed to work well. Some students had technical problems the first flex day.
On flex days, students have the option of working online from the location of their choosing, including school.
Slightly more than 120 students did their online work Tuesday at Homestead, Ginder said. He didn't have a specific breakdown, but they included students who wanted to do their work there, those who had to be there because they didn't do their work on the first flex day and some special-education students.
Sophomore Leah Force, 15, worked Tuesday at Homestead because her parents thought she could focus better on her work while there, she said. Students all met in the cafeteria, and then she chose to go work in a study hall room where teachers were available to help students in person or online.
All students have the option to email questions to their teachers directly, too.
"I think it's great — just to come in school and get a lot done," said Leah, who arrived at school at 7 a.m. and started her online work about 7:40 a.m.
She expected to complete all flex day online work by 12:15 p.m. and then start on homework.
Other students chose to sleep in an extra two or three hours, starting their online learning at 9 or 10 a.m. rather than the 7:45 a.m. on regular school days.
"I really enjoy it," said senior Michael Delzoppo, 17, who started his class work at 10:15 a.m.
Delzoppo was one of about two dozen Homestead students who studied together at The Chapel church, 2505 W. Hamilton Road S., which offered free Wi-Fi as well as breakfast and lunch for flex day students.
"We all sit in the youth room at tables and do work all day," junior Paige Eakright, 16, said of gathering there with friends. "Then we hang out for awhile."
Studying with friends and classmates also worked well because they can help each other if they have questions, said sophomore Matthew Hope, 15, who also was studying at The Chapel.
Senior Emma Zolman, 17, liked working at home. "If I need a break, I can take a break," Zolman said.
She and other students also like that Homestead can use e-learning on snow days, so the school year won't be lengthened by bad weather.
"I don't want to end school in mid-June again," Delzoppo said. "I'm a senior, and I'm ready to be done."
Homestead flex daysHomestead High School students attend class online on flex days.
Upcoming flex days are Nov. 19 and Dec. 11.