Borrego Sun - Since 1949

By Kim Simas 

Local Teacher Makes Distance Learning Fun


Last updated 10/9/2020 at 12:59pm

Mrs. McFedries helps students learn to do multiplication correctly in her Multiplication Recipe video.

We've all had that one special teacher that helped shaped our school years. The teacher who inspired us to work a little harder and learn in new creative ways. Julian Union School District's fifth grade teacher, Marisa McFedries is just that teacher. For years, she has been known for her innovative ways of engaging with her students. Whether it was the use of alternative seating options or artful classroom decorations, McFedries finds stimulating ways to connect with her students and make learning fun.

When the schools closed in March and distance learning became the new norm, McFedries knew that she had to find a way to connect with her students. She decided to post videos of herself reading chapters from The Hobbit. With being online for most of the day, students were finding other ways to amuse themselves rather than spending time completing assignments. So McFedries then began to dress up as characters from the novel in an effort to not only amuse her students but to engage them in a more entertaining way. She realized that she could "bring a little happiness and fun to the students who might be struggling with online learning in any grade." McFedries feels that she needs to do anything she can to help her students learn the material during this difficult time.

McFedries hopes to help her students become engaged, more focused and eager to learn by viewing her videos. She has taken her videos to a new level in an effort to reach her audience. McFedries' recent videos include writing assignments or math lessons disguised as fun story lines. For example, McFedries took on the role of a Math Chef in her "Multiplication Recipe" as a fun way to remind her students that they need to follow the directions when completing multiplication problems. "I was really happy when I received feedback from parents that said they were watching the videos with their kids! I love the idea that the family can learn the math together because they watched one of my silly videos," said McFedries.

Students and parents have given McFedries and the school district many positive reviews about the YouTube channel. McFedries has even received comments by former students which keeps her motivated to do more. She understands that when the schools reopen, she will have to make a lot of changes to the way that her class operates. McFedries said, "I want to bring my best, and use every talent and tool that I have to keep every student engaged and learning. I want every student who passes through my fifth grade to feel important to me, even if I have to embarrass myself to do it!" Many students and parents eagerly subscribe to her YouTube channel (Mrs. McFedries) to see what fun production she does next while they learn at the same time. The pandemic may have changed the way education looks like, however, the experience of having a teacher like McFedries is an asset that students will cherish for many years to come.