Hands-on learning during the pandemic

Adjusting active classes to Zoom lessons

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Photo by Alex Shaw on Unsplash

You sign up for a semester of Net Sports to fulfill your Physical Education (PE) requirement, expecting to play some basketball and tennis in the fall. But with the start of the school year, all of your expectations have quickly changed. Now, you have to log onto Zoom and exercise on a video call with your classmates. 

With all classes taking place online this fall, every Miramonte High School teacher is forced to make adjustments to the execution of their curriculum. However, more hands-on classes such as PE and Publications, formerly known as Yearbook, are forced to make bigger adaptations as to how the classes are taking place virtually. 

Publications, taught by Rebecca Promessi, is one of the classes with the most changes brought about by distance learning.

“The biggest changes we’ve had to make to the yearbook have been to the ladder (basically the table of contents) because we have come up with new ideas to replace old topics,” Senior Class Editor Christine Pearson said. Typically, the yearbook editors are able to plan out what topics they are going to be covering at the beginning of the year. However, due to uncertainty of how this school year will unfold, they are unable to do that. 

Promessi allows the editorial staff to take over the Zooms and teach students how to create different components of a yearbook page, which they are able to do on their own devices.

 “It has been a new experience to train the staff, but everyone has been doing a great job learning about how to put together the yearbook over Zoom,” Senior Editor-in-Chief Hannah Klein said. 

Zooms usually last 30 to 35 minutes each day and following the meeting, students are expected to work independently on assignments for the class.  

“This year’s book is going to be quite unique and special. Our goal is to create a historical publication that covers everything that is going on in our world right now. We are going to cover as many of the traditional items that we would normally cover as we can,” Promessi said. 

For academic classes, the staff is planning to cover Zoom periods and interview students and teachers. The editorial board is unsure as to how they will cover sports. 

“With the extra space in this year’s book we are really excited to include spreads about what has been happening in our community. For example, we will have a spread covering the Black Lives Matter movement and the discussions that movement has created in our community,” Klein said. 

Another class impacted by the switch to distance learning is PE.

 “In ninth grade PE we start the year with a ‘What is PE Lab’ where we learn about the five components of fitness and have the students test themselves in each area. We then transition to a dynamic warm-up followed by a strength high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout that lasts from 20 to 30 minutes,” PE teacher Anna Gunn said. 

Zooms usually last 40 to 60 minutes and students are expected to have a 5 by 5 foot area to move in. 

“I’ve actually found that most students are ready to get up and exercise after sitting in Zooms all day. Also, since no one can really see them, they are not as embarrassed and seem to really be putting in some effort!” Gunn said. 

Some students are happy to take a break during a long day of staring at their screen. “Net sports is definitely a lot different than my other classes but I’ve gotten used to doing my exercises on Zoom. I use a yoga mat in my bedroom and I have enough room to move around,” senior Fiona Akazawa said.