Persuading classmates to buy a chicken in Freshman Seminar; an interpretive dance depicting a scene from Othello submitted via video for Honors English; a poem describing daily responsibilities of a medieval job during the Middle Ages; and an online Bible study are all examples of different ways Episcopal faculty are seeking to make remote learning engaging and interesting while the campus remains closed to students and the city engages in social distancing.
Valerie Bow '79, Freshman Seminar Instructor, shared the fun her class had during a unit on Persuasive Speech this week.
"I had each student take five minutes to find something in their house and then work up a persuasive way to sell it to their class members or get the support of their classmates," she shared. "It was so much fun. I had everything from pets, to iPhones, deodorant, a chicken, and a tractor! The students did well and it broke the norm of what we would have been able to do in our classroom environment."
Sixth graders are highly engaged with Project Based Learning. Students are submitting videos of themselves through FlipGrid for the recitation of monologues in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. They are also exploring life during the Middle Ages through learning about occupations held during that time. Each student will be assigned an occupation, such as squire, blacksmith, farmer, shepherd, knight, falconer, baker, barrister, or cartographer. Students must research their assigned job and then present to the class on it, using Google slides, a poem of at least 32 lines, or creating a storyboard. They must include details of their character's life, such as dinner foods and clothing descriptions, compensation and work day details.
"The “Zoom”ing taking place in Upper and Middle School English classes is giving everyone a chance to keep in touch and continue Harkness-style camaraderie," said English Department Chair Cathy Kanaday. "To keep excess screen time down, though, several teachers are working on individual project based activities, such as ninth graders creating podcast-style storytelling units."
For example, Tara Kneale's Honors English 10 students will have options that encourage their creativity for their final Othello project. Some options include creating a portrait of a character in the play, with an explanation of the artistic techniques and the materials chosen in order to communicate the character's personality. Costume design, interpretive dance, and composition of an instrumental piece are also all options that can be submitted, along with accompanying compositions explaining the artistic choices made.
Communications Department Chair Leah Glotzbach is incorporating current news for coverage for The Talon Times newspaper staff's assignments.
"The Talon Times newspaper staff is conducting business as usual! Each staff member is writing a different piece pertaining to the pandemic for the next issue. Topics range from how small businesses are being affected to their own experiences," Leah shared. (The Talon Times)
AP Environmental Science is working on Free Response Questions for the modified AP exam this year. Students are exploring this format of question and brainstorming answers via group work, David Wandel, AP Environmental Science instructor shared. David is able to view the students as they work in groups together, discussing such things as the reduction of air pollution.
Finally, ensuring students still know they are cared for is part of instructor Pat Crandall's daily classroom protocol.
"I find it helpful to ask each one of them a simpler question about the material directly. I want them to know I am attending to each of them. At the end of the class, I check them out of the 'room' by saying their name and having them way goodbye to me. They may be seniors on their way off to college, but everyone likes the personal touch, knowing that their teachers actually do CARE about them!" said Pat.
In addition, Tracy Jester, Physical Education and Associate Director of Honor Education, who will be the faculty liaison for Episcopal's new technology initiative, shared advice for how to adjust to increased technology use during remote learning, with input from ESJ Learning Specialist Tim Stegnik.
"We discussed easy adjustments you can make to help decrease eye strain during remote learning. First, adjust your monitor settings so that the screen brightness is consistent with your environment. You want to avoid having the screen too bright or too dark. Also, under display settings you can turn on “Night Light” to decrease the amount of blue light emitted. Lastly, one of the easiest things we can do is just take a break! Use the 20-20-20 rule, set a timer, every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds, looking at an object 20 feet away. These are some of the tricks you can try to help reduce headaches, blurred vision and stiffness in your head, neck and shoulders,” shared Ms. Jester.