Why Some Classes are Better in Person Than Others

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Samir Tusneem, Writer

Being stuck at home during the school year has brought many challenges to both the students and the teachers, with one of the most notable being the lack of interaction within class meetings. There are certainly some classes that work better online, while others work better in person for the sole fact that they are more collaborative than independent. With this problem in hand, it is likely that students of these classes are not getting the optimal experience that they would be getting in person.

 

Some classes are meant to be taught in-person, due to the fact that they consist of seminars, group projects and discussions, presentations, and public speaking opportunities. Speech class, for example, strives to help students become more comfortable with speaking in front of audiences, as well as offering strategies to make these types of presentations more effective. However, with classes being online, these teaching methods had to be altered in order to fit the virtual environment.

 

The general trend shows that in-person instruction is better for classes that are more reliant on learning through projects, experiments, and discussions. Learning concepts from subjects like math, however, are more derived from lectures and practice rather than discussions and collaboration. Although there are multiple opportunities to integrate creativity with mathematics through projects, it is not necessarily required in order to teach the content. This is opposed to another core subject like chemistry, in which students are encouraged to learn the concepts through labs that are done in class. This allows students to have hands-on opportunities to further their knowledge of the notions they are learning. This also expands to other classes such as U.S Government and Politics, History classes, English, and more. 

 

So how have teachers taken the initiative to combat this obstacle? In order to do the best they can to help increase the interaction within the class, some teachers have moved towards more group projects and breakout groups rather than tests and quizzes. This way, teachers can ensure that students still have opportunities to talk to one another and learn through critical thinking and projects, rather than memorization and exams. By doing this, students are able to get to know one another while also blending creative thinking with education. 

 

Ms. Hannini, one of the speech teachers at Green Hope, took creativity to a new level to create activities and alternatives to help students achieve the best experience possible during this time online. “Students have had the option to prerecord major presentations in front of an audience or to present live to the class, depending on their comfort level. We’ve used breakout rooms for group activities/games and it’s been different, but still engaging and fun,” she stated. “I try to ensure our class is as interactive as possible and want students to have the opportunity to engage with the material as well as each other throughout each of our units,” she added. After this period of remote learning, the key takeaway is to make the best of the new environment that we are experiencing and to learn to adapt to it. “While I do wish we had the opportunity to practice together in our classroom and make those fun memories, I’ve come to accept this new ‘normal.’ Things most certainly look different, but ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.”

I try to ensure our class is as interactive as possible and want students to have the opportunity to engage with the material as well as each other throughout each of our units”

— Ms. Hannini, Speech teacher at Green Hope

Online learning has presented new opportunities to try different things in order to make the best of this new setting. Teachers such as Ms. Hannini have taken the opportunity of this unprecedented period to take advantage of the technology we have to transition what we once knew as normal to this new perspective. By using videos to assess new skills, and breakouts rooms and projects to enable interaction and creativity, teachers are paving the way for a new environment that brings the “normal” we previously recognized to the new virtual school setting.

 

As this school year has been all about adjusting to the new virtual environment and making the best of the classes that we previously hoped we would get to experience in person, teachers have been taking steps towards producing a comfortable environment for students to resume their interactive and collaborative studies and expression of creativity. This school year has definitely been strange and spontaneous, it is important that we remember that this shift in education may not be so bad after all.