April 17, 2020
As schools shift online, Eye of the Tiger reporters take a look at what that means for individual departments and classes.
All schools in RJUHSD switched to distance learning after midterms last month in a mitigation measure against COVID-19. The district has announced that distance learning will continue through the end of the school year.
In response, classes have had to adapt curriculum and exams to match the distance-learning format. According to RHS principal Nicholas Richter, teachers have been meeting over Zoom to align department curriculum and determine new formats for classes.
“We want to make sure that the work being given is legitimate – that it’s going to be part of the learning,” Richter said.
English tackles new technology
The transition for English courses at RHS has taken advantage of a slew of digital resources to continue along a similar curriculum pathway to before the transition.
Some resources for English teacher Jamie Handling include Google Classroom for assignments, Zoom for office hours and Flipgrid for class discussions.
“It’s day-to-day, I have to be flexible and say, “ok now I have to change my hours,” because not enough kids are coming or maybe it’s not the right time, so I have to really listen to the needs of the students,” Handling said, “I’m utilizing multiple forms of technology to reach out to the students.”
Though the curriculum in terms of readings and essays has progressed as normal, English teacher Amy Marsh what is really lost in the switch online is the collaborative and interactive learning environment.
“The interaction isn’t there so much – I have to wait for kids to do assignments or check in with me in Hangouts to answer questions or clarify information,” Marsh said “I like to do a lot of activities where students are interacting with one another – getting up, getting into partners and groups, sharing ideas… The push to provide asynchronous lessons and activities makes that a little bit more difficult.”
Dance learns via video
With the switch online, students in RHS’ dance pathway no longer practice with the floor and mirrors of a dance studio. Instead, students learn dances over video and submit a home recording of them trying it out. There’s also an influx of online reading on the origin and culture behind different dance styles.
For Gavin Valdemoro, a sophomore in Dance 2, the new learning format can still be fun, but has its drawbacks.
“I think the hardest part of online learning is that it’s so difficult to contact the teacher… Also, another [challenge] is social distancing,” Valdemoro said. “Especially in dance, having friends and other people around you while in a learning environment definitely helps you improve and put yourself out there. Now that we’re stuck at home, I feel pretty starved of that.”
The classes were planning to continue to prepare for the dance show before the district extended school closures through the rest of the year.
Rec. admin stops work with elementary schools
For the elective class Recreational Administration, going to online school took a large shift in curriculum. For the remainder of school, the students were supposed to put the recreational organization skills they have learned to use by teaching P.E. to students at Spanger and Maidu elementary schools.
In order for the class to go online, Rec. Admin teacher Emily Dodds has had to create new curriculum. The assignments have consisted of students creating presentations, researching assigned topics such as “Benefits of Living a Physically Active Life,” and reading articles about recreational activities.
Junior Tanner Duncan, a Rec. Admin student, knew that this was going to cause a dramatic change for the class, as they planned on teaching kids for the rest of the year.
“It’s definitely a new feel for all of us in the class. We didn’t really know what we were going to have to do, since most of the class is teaching P.E. to our students,” Duncan said. “But we knew that Mrs. Dodds would have to give us something to do… The online portion of the class is alright but there isn’t much else that she could’ve given us.”
He is also sad that he isn’t going to be able to continue teaching the students he got to know before RHS went online.
“I’m pretty disappointed that I won’t be able to see the kids because I made a connection with most of them and I wish I could see them again,” Duncan said. “But I won’t be able to.”
Ceramics shapes sculptures from home
Ceramics, a hands-on VAPA elective, typically relies on in-class resources, and has had to rework curriculum for distance learning. Because of the sudden lack of resources, students took on more assignments analyzing and writing essays on ceramic sculptures from different eras.
Students still get hands-on learning by picking up clay at the Art Quad at school to use for sculptures, or make sculptures from
disposable material found in their area.
Ceramics Teacher Joyce Henry is currently the only instructor teaching the course, meaning she has the sole responsibility of keeping the course going. Henry said she noticed that students, particularly seniors, miss working at school.
“They wanna be at school. They wanted to socialize,” Henry said. “They’re upset about missing very significant events. The seniors are saying there’s a possibility that they won’t be able to go through a ceremony, and this is all very upsetting.”
Henry wanted to have the students become more creative at home. If school doesn’t go back in session in time for finals, Henry is planning sculpture assignments for students to do with different materials at home.
Sophomore Lily Jorgensen is one of the ceramics students affected by the school closures, and found switching online difficult.
“It affects the ability to actually learn hands-on.” Jorgensen said. “We were supposed to start a new way of building that a lot of people were excited for, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to do it.”
Despite that, sophomore Spencer True feels Henry has done well bringing students together in groups while transitioning the course online.
“I know she wishes that we could be in the classroom making art, but we can only do so much right now.” True said.
True said the limitations of the online class in terms of working hands-on with clay makes learning more difficult.
“Ceramics helped build our creativity and since we can no longer work with the clay, I feel like I am a little less creative since I can’t make anything.”