Impact Of Online Learning on the Arts Department

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Students in the Green Hope Arts Departments have had to adjust the way they tackle what's usually hands-on learning

A lot of changes have been brought about by online schooling – one of the biggest ones being how the arts programs are operating. Most arts courses are dependent on physical interaction, but that is no longer an option due to the quarantine. It’s been difficult for arts teachers to decide this year’s curriculum and activities, even having to reshape the mechanics of the entire program in some cases. 

We talked to some students and teachers from the chorus, band, orchestra, graphic art, and theatre courses to get an insight into how the arts programs are running during online school.

CHORUS

As one of the biggest arts programs at Green Hope, the chorus program holds a reputation of making beautiful music and being a community where all singers, regardless of their differences, can come together as a family. Usually a class that depends on physical feedback and peer activities, there have been a lot of major changes to the program’s layout itself.

Choir has always been an art where students come together as one, so it’s extremely important to incorporate that into lessons that are taken from home. “While we are having chorus class virtually, we have to find a new approach to rehearsing music.  Our program is appealing to so many students because of the community of passionate singers that are eager to make music with others.” Mr. Botwick, 2 year choral director, said when asked what challenges he was facing with planning the choir curriculum. All of the schools’ arts courses have been using similar systems of practice through hosting online rehearsals, encouraging collaboration among students, and utilizing digital resources.  

Wake County has done a wonderful job giving resources for teachers to continue providing quality lessons for our students.”

— Mr. Botwick

Mr. Botwick explained, “ There are not any regulations that WCPSS has put in place that I don’t believe are for the safety of all students in our county; however, arts programs continue to be underfunded each year.  This forces us to take time out of the classroom to promote fundraising.  We need resources now more than ever to keep our programs alive and healthy.  I would hope that WCPSS would re-evaluate their commitment to the arts financially.” The arts’ programs continue to run on a path of success, even through all of the hardships it has faced throughout the years. Students seem to agree with this – “I think chorus class is being run very well under the circumstances and I wouldn’t make any changes.” said Zoe Wynns, Vice President of the Chorus Program. Chorus will continue to thrive as one of the most successful programs offered at Green Hope, with new hopes for the future.

Although being in online school is definitely hard, the choir program believes that there is always a brightside, and that it’s important to make the most of it! When asked about positive features of virtual learning, Mr. Botwick responded, “In the first few weeks of class, I’ve already noticed how thankful our students are to have music in their lives on a daily basis.  They continue to have a safe space to be themselves and think creatively.  Virtual chorus allows us to spend more time on growing as individual musicians so that when we come back to in person learning, our choirs have still shown growth.” Individual practice and self growth is vital for choir students, and being at home allows them to have more space to learn at their own pace. “ I hope to provide resources for our students to practice more on their own if they are motivated to do so.  Many of our students are hoping to audition for music programs at the collegiate level.  I find that these students practice more on their own.” Syam Mullapudi, Chorus President, believes that it’s important to utilize the extra time that comes with quarantine. “While it is up to the individual student on how they spend their time being at home, I truly believe that working from home will certainly help add additional practice to our routine.” Time once spent on general school activities is now freed up, allowing students more freedom to discover new interests in music, and practice individuality among themselves. “As we all know, we don’t have to spend time in carpool or bussing to school and back at this time and it will provide us an opportunity to learn more and make great music.” Chorus focuses greatly on working together, and creating one sound for all. Both Syam and Mr. Botwick’s comments look at independence and responsibility in students, this being a time that everyone will have to figure out and adapt to.  

In spite of the new challenges, Mr. Botwick, student leaders, and members of the program continue to persevere through these tough times. Choir remains a place where all students come together to make a difference through music. Even though COVID-19 has created many problems, it can never dent the spirit of the Green Hope Choir family!

BAND & ORCHESTRA 

Band and orchestra are two classes that build family-like environments through creating music with others. Similar to chorus and theatre, people from all different walks of life come together to produce breathtaking art as a collective unit. Naturally, the changes brought along by online school would cause problems for classes such as band and orchestra, but Mr. Flowers and Ms. Ju have been working hard to ensure that having class online doesn’t prohibit students from growing as musicians. 

Practicing is one of the biggest parts of being a musician, ergo, playing music at home is not a new concept for Green Hopes’ band and orchestra students. But, that is not the difficult aspect of having these courses online.

The biggest challenge is not being able to practice and rehearse together live as one large ensemble. There is lag time, and the quality of sound through Google Meets hinders the ability to play together … to create a cohesive sound.”

— Ms. Ju

Ms. Ju, the Orchestra Director, responded when asked about the difficulties she was facing this year when trying to plan curriculum for her class. Although music is a big part of band and orchestra, there is a whole other side to these classes that means even more to the students. Arts classes such as these tend to have larger than average class sizes, reaching numbers upwards of 50-60 students. These students build strong relationships with one another, and tend to have many friends in their class. Lauren Humplett, a twelfth-grade band student, said,

Most of my best friends are in my band class and that’s part of what makes it fun. Even though we see each other through the computer screen, it’s not the same as in person.”

— Lauren Humphlett

Despite the problems mentioned above, Mr. Flowers and Ms. Ju have been focusing on the positives, and working to make the best of the situation at hand. According to the Band Director, Mr. Flowers, “(Having online class) is allowing us to focus on individual development more than we would have been able to in the past.” Since ensemble practice is not a possibility, the music teachers have been focusing on helping the students grow as musicians in smaller settings, by working on solo pieces or in small chamber groups. The main reasons that these two classes have been running so smoothly through a screen is the hard-work and devotion demonstrated by the teachers. “Orchestra online has been a positive experience for me because Ms. Ju is a fantastic teacher, and keeps us interested and engaged throughout the class. I’ve always thought that the quality of the teacher is what makes or breaks a class for the students, and I think that Ms. Ju’s efforts to keep the class interesting is the primary reason I, and without a doubt everyone else, am having a positive experience.” Casper Masiarek, a sophomore orchestra student, said when asked about his experience with virtual orchestra class. Both the orchestra and band classes are working towards producing a “virtual concert”. Which entails all of the students recording their individual parts, and then compiling them all together to create the finished piece. Not only are the classes taking this approach, but the Green Hope Marching Band is also using this method to produce their 2020 show, “We Go On-Line”. 

VISUAL ARTS

Another huge part of Green Hope High School students interest is graphic art, where students with a common interest come together, share their passion, and learn new things with the opinion of the teacher but unfortunately a large number of students are involved in art are having trouble because of the COVID-19 restrictions including online school . The Art program which has the potential to help improve memory and concentration skills, develop decision making and critical thinking skills, but also encourage focus and discipline. While we are not in school due to COVID 19, it makes it hard to perform graphic art, without having the same atmosphere, students all around, and a mentor to guide.    

 

Teachers are excited to see what students will create this year! Students are excited to learn more with new techniques and activities. Ms. Poppe, a Known art teacher at GHHS optimistically answered “I am working on making it the best fit for everyone,” say [Poppe’s quote] . Some challenges that students and teachers face during this time is drawing and creating work during the limited time via Google Meet.

I miss the 90 minutes to work on pieces of art,”

— Ms. Poppe

said Ms. Poppe. Students also miss the extended duration to keep working on their assignments, especially upper-level students. Many students also miss communicating with teachers and classmates graphicly about their artwork but using Padlet to upload pictures of art for feedback. Critique from other students in the class made it easier for students to work with other students. Teachers are loving Padlet and Google Classroom for communicating and pleased with how well students are using the forums and giving feedback. Planning an online curriculum for the art department is quite a challenge for teachers but collaborating with fellow art teachers across the county and state to find new ways of teaching remotely makes it collaborative and fun. It’s a great way to stay fresh on all the new ways of teaching and students learn different ways to create and study art.

Working with materials and creating a new thing is all this class is about. While we can’t be in the class, the school is organizing artwork supply distribution, which students have opportunities to ask for supplies, and teachers will make supply packets for any students that need supplies.

   Teachers and students are very excited to learn, work with the constraints, and help each other in this current virtual school!

 

THEATRE ARTS

With most if not all art classes facing various challenges due to the online learning system, Green Hope’s Theatre isn’t an exception from thriving to achieve a successful educational year along with the other art classes. Theatre is built around in-person interaction as an essential and foundational part of the class. However, with inability to have this important part as effectively due to the nature of online learning, Green Hope Theatre students and teachers are trying to adapt to the challenges followed by.


Mr. Gorski, Director of Theatre Arts at Green Hope described, “in-person human connection” is  theatre’s bread and butter. However, without a doubt, the interaction and communication between students and teachers are majorly interrupted by online learning. Mr. Gorski also added “We are now having to find new ways to connect to people, in a world where ‘zoom fatigue’ is a real thing and people would rather do anything else than sit in front of a screen in an attempt to view a live performance,” as negative part of the online learning within the theatre arts class. Hope Boland, Senior in Green Hope’s Theatre class, also identified that inability to interact with each other during warm ups was one of the big challenges she faced within online learning. She added that

interaction with each other helps us bond and trust each other in performances.”

— Hope Boland

The cruel nature of online learning also interrupted the learning and activity portion of the class. Because theatre arts normally require students to practice acting and perform, online learning has brought hard limitations into the class. Hope commented on her experience so far with online learning in the theatre class. She said that

I do find it hard to really carry on a discussion online or act in front of the camera.”

— Mr. Gorksi

Mr. Gorski also identifies his experience so far as “very challenging,” because not only is he having a hard time interacting with his students, but he also struggled with making changes to the whole course outline to adapt to the online learning environment. In addition, all of their performances had to be and will be video recorded instead of performed live which is a crucial challenge for the theatre team to attempt to deliver the same feeling as live performance to the audience. 

Although online learning left theatre with various challenges, one clear thing is that theatre students and teachers are working together to adapt to the new environment and bring out the positivity. Hope identified “being able to record our performances” as a benefit from an online system. When performing live, students can be more nervous and potentially make mistakes, however, because performances are being recorded, Hope said recording the performance helped reduce stress and perfect the performance [more] than performing live. She also said that Mr.Gorski has been encouraging and helpful in trying to help everyone in theatre to feel comfortable acting as well as creating a fun and trusted environment by playing theatre games online and utilizing breakout groups.

Without a doubt, theatre class as a whole is thriving to be successful despite the challenges that online learning has brought. It is encouraging to see a class that was challenged arguably the most from online learning, figuring out their way through this unusual situation. Theatre is having their performances all on an online platform, their first showcase taking place this Friday, September 4th at 7pm as well as their Fall Play “She Kills Monsters.” 

All of the Green Hope Arts programs are taking steps to have the best school year possible, whether or not classes remain virtual for the remainder of the year. Despite all of the challenges that the arts classes are facing this year, Mr. Botwick, Ms. Ju, Mr. Flowers, Mrs. Poppe, and Mr. Gorski are all looking towards the future, and trying to do best by their students. They are constantly searching for new strategies to enrich their students, and make sure they continue to grow. Additionally, the students are trying their best to welcome all of the changes brought along by online learning, both positive and negative. That being said, there are a lot of new and exciting things coming out of the Arts programs this year, so be sure to keep your eye out for them.