Electives adapt to virtual learning environment


Donne Biggs

Cooking classes, like Culinary Arts and Gourmet, have required teachers to adapt to virtual learning for typically hands-on classes. They are also sometimes simultaneously dealing with in-person students.

Career electives and visual and performing arts classes are among those that have changed dramatically to continue learning at a high level amid this pandemic.

These electives are hands-on programs that require engagement and teamwork from students, which is hard to obtain when not in a classroom together.

Teachers have had to adjust their teaching styles and the way they present lessons to their students. Trying to adapt to new learning systems and platforms, sharing their screen on Google Meet or even splitting their computer screen have all been new challenges.

“I have grilled on my own deck. I have cooked at home and had my family kicked out of the kitchen. I have cooked at the school in the culinary kitchen. I have had to use my own cell phone to record video,” Culinary Arts teacher Christine Gloninger said. “I went from showing students how to do a technique, hands on, to students being online and not having access to the food or equipment that they need.”

Many career and technical education classes depend on public funding to purchase the necessary food and equipment for the class. With students participating in class virtually and unable to make food in the classroom, funding has been cut short due to the lack of food produced and then sold.

In electives that depend on student collaboration to succeed like orchestra, band or chorus, it has been difficult for classmates to mix and match their music and voices to create a polished result because everyone is not together. In these classes, teachers have given out online sheet music so students can listen to a recording and then play or sing along with it.

“Our teacher has made a great effort to try and recreate a classroom environment online with breakout groups and sheet music online,” sophomore Shalini Vlcan said. “Obviously, it’s not the same as being physically in the classroom talking directly to my classmates and teacher, but it is still a great experience.”

Teachers have continued to hold online office hours after school and on Mondays to offer support to students with assignments or concepts they might be struggling with.

“It’s been more difficult to collaborate with my classmates to spark ideas and help on projects,” sophomore Olivia Cruz said. “This year, I have had to reach out to my teachers more than ever if I am having trouble with an assignment.”