Due to COVID-19, teachers have been forced to rely on conferencing apps such as ZOOM and Google Meet in order to teach students virtually. Online learning has been particularly challenging in certain classes because students require hands-on methods to better understand the subject matter.
The physical education department was pushed to make modifications in order to adjust to teaching online. One of these changes was focusing on the immune system and tracking student physical fitness.
“This new fall semester in PE 1 we have shifted to covering a lot more of the thought behind why we exercise, how to get the most out of it and how to do it independently,” P.E. Dept. Chair Ben Philpot said. “A few topics we are focusing on and their relationship with exercise are the immune system, metabolism, weight loss, hypokinetic diseases, and anatomy. We are utilizing a lot of videos in our curriculum to demonstrate skills and training concepts that students can utilize in pursuit of their own goals.”
Another major change was incorporating online workouts into the curriculum. Students use STRAVA, a workout app that involves recording workouts and being able to share it with others. The department has also decided on using TABATA, an interval training program for their P.E. 1 class.
“These are great because the kids finally have choices for their workouts and are not having to constantly just run for us,” P.E. and yoga teacher Lee-Anne Ghimenti said. “I feel they are actually liking it. I’ve been excited to see that 99.9% of the kids are taking it seriously and really are engaged and that makes me feel better about it too.”
Philpot explains that through using workout apps, students are able to make a fitness goal and commit to it with the variety of tracking the apps can provide.
“They aren’t limited to the equipment we have and the majority of students have activities they already enjoy that they now have ever more reason to partake in,” Philpot said. “The fitness logging process is something that will be growing and “upgrading” all throughout the semester as we begin to cover more topics and principles of fitness. The goal is students go through an ever-growing process to achieve and adapt their personal fitness goals in appropriate ways of their choice.”
The mathematics department also made changes to the curriculum. Geometry, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC teacher Jordan Merkin made changes to her curriculum in order to help her students transition to learning math online easier.
“Many of the discovery-based and hands-on learning activities needed to be changed, so that students did not need tools like a printer, scissors, glue, compasses, etc. to complete them,” Merkin said.
Merkin has started implementing video lectures and online activities into her teaching, to ensure that students can grasp concepts virtually.
“I also changed my classroom to more of a “flipped” style where students watch video lectures during independent work time and complete activities during class time,” said Merkin. “This way, students will have guidance when doing activities and get a chance to work with one another.”
Student’s comprehension of math concepts online has been another difficulty for Merkin, so she is providing check-in quizzes and created a youtube channel for math tutorials.
“Another challenge is being able to make sure my students are understanding what they need to after completing an activity,” Merkin said. “Therefore, I have implemented more check-in quizzes. I have also learned a lot more about how to use technology in the classroom and have even started a math tutorial YouTube channel.”
Labs and experiments have been the main engagement for science classes for students to better understand concepts without being in the classroom. It is harder for students to participate in the labs due to the lack of materials.
“For my freshman biotech class, I am lucky because they will have both semesters for this class. I am trying to concentrate on the biology concepts for now,” AP Biology and Biotech teacher Jennifer Carlomagno said. “Then, if we go back in person learning, I hope to do hands-on labs. For the time being, we are doing virtual labs and I will do lab demonstrations. Obviously, this is not ideal, but we will do the best we can and there are a lot of great resources out there.”