By CASSIE GORMAN
As distance learning poses unique challenges to teaching and reviewing content, some teachers have decided to branch out and experiment with novel teaching methods to enhance online learning and interaction with students. MySchool, the website used by every teacher and student to administer online quizzes, turn in assignments and organize all class materials, has been the most prominent online tool for CUSD in the past, but now students are increasingly seeing different methods and websites being integrated in their learning.
Notably, Jason Maas-Baldwin began using his iPad and Apple Pencil during lectures for his AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry classes.
“Instruction involves lots of drawings and symbols,” Maas-Baldwin states. “That’s only possible with the iPad/pen combo. I have tried other tools in the past but this is the first to really work because the iPad actually senses my palm so I can rest it on the screen while writing.”
Novel teaching methods are not just limited to academics as art teacher Steven Russell hosts live sessions on Instagram five times a week, where he does follow-along drawing tutorials. The hour-long tutorials are then posted to his YouTube channel for students to watch at any time. Russell enjoys this platform as it allows anyone to access art to relieve stress and explore new creative boundaries.
Since school closed, educational technology instructor Colin Matheson has been instructing teachers and helping them find online resources that work for them.
“Some teachers are early adapters,” Matheson notes. “They are like, ‘Yeah let’s try [new tools,]’ and they are willing to take those risks. After a few times, they find out what works, and then I help other teachers work with what seems to be beneficial for students.”
Matheson created a website where he identifies beneficial tools for teachers. There are a variety of small articles on the site, like “State and County Resources,” “Engaging and Interactive Activities” and “Interacting with and Supporting Students.” The site is available on the home page of MySchool, under the name “Teacher Resource Page for Online Learning.”
More commonly, online platforms already familiar to teachers and students create a solid foundation for teachers. A majority of teachers are increasing their use of sites such as Quizlet for creating study sets; Quizziz and Kahoot to create interactive quizzes; and Edpuzzle to upload videos with questions for students as they watch.
CUSD has been using MySchool since 2008. Matheson notes that MySchool is basically the “Swiss Army knife” of sites, and teachers who continue to use MySchool are finding it an easy-to-navigate and risk-free option. Assignments that traditionally function in a face-to-face classroom environment can transition online using MySchool.
Meanwhile, a handful of AP course teachers are continuing to assign short essays. Though usually written during class time with pen and paper and a strict time limit–45 minutes–online instruction of these essays poses many challenges to maintaining this formula, but AP teachers have found ways to continue.
AP U.S. History teacher Joe McCarty posts YouTube videos in which he explains the weekly essay formats, and the essays are turned in via MySchool. Likewise, AP Language and Composition teachers Barbara McBride and Mike Palshaw continue assigning and grading essays.
“Every teacher has tried something new, guaranteed,” Matheson states. “[Math teacher Kurt] Grahl is making his own Moodle quizzes. McBride is using something called Flipgrid. These are things that are new to them, and everyone is going outside their comfort zone in terms of technology.”
Though it can be said Carmel High was already a tech-savvy school, distance learning has proved that there are myriad unique resources that students and teachers can discover to improve student experiences in online instruction.