May 29, 2020
Keeping a ‘Sense of Normalcy’ for Students
Mrs. Hasenbeck-Meyer adjusted quickly to eLearning -- with the help of her Fenwick faculty peers.
“When I found out that we would be moving to eLearning, I sat down and thought about what my priorities were for my students and for myself,” says Fenwick Theology and German Teacher Kaitlin Hasenbeck-Meyer, who also is an assistant poms coach. “My primary goal was to ensure that there wasn't a drop in the value of their education and that they still had some sense of normalcy during a very chaotic time. For me, I knew that I didn't want to be inundated with grading.”
Mrs. Hasenbeck-Meyer then turned to colleagues to discuss her ideas, troubleshoot different apps and practice using them with one another before eLearning officially began. “Preparing and implementing my goals continued to be a team effort,” she adds.
Because Fenwick already had laid many of the technological foundations (students submitted assignments on Schoology, tested on their iPads, used Socrative, EdPuzzle, etc.), she was able to continue fairly normally with just a few adjustments.
“To keep their education consistent, I focused on ways that I could present them with material similar to how I would in the classroom,” she explains. “To make sure that the students were comfortable during this process, I tried to limit the number of apps and programs to things they were already familiar with.”
To present materials, Hasenbeck-Meyer mainly recorded lectures over her slides. “In a normal classroom setting, I teach using the Socratic Method,” she says, “and I wanted to make sure students could still ask and answer questions even with recorded lectures. A typical daily task for students was to take notes on the lecture. “I built in breaks and pauses for them to reflect or answer questions in their notebook,” she adds. “Additionally, I've used the Socrative Platform for bell-ringers and exit tickets where they can pose questions they have over the materials and then their classmates can view the submissions and vote for the questions they most want answered.”
FlipGrid is one new technological tool that she discovered. “It has been great for giving the students controlled face time with one another,” their teacher explains. “The students can post a video and their classmates can then respond to their videos. In my Theology classes this allowed for students to still do presentations for their class and get feedback from their peers. In German, this was valuable in that it facilitated conversation and pronunciation practice.”
It is important to Hasenbeck-Meyer that her students still feel a sense of community during a time of separation, she says: “Once a week, I held Zoom [video] conferences to check in with the students and allow them to check in with one another. I also encouraged them to complete assignments and projects together. Using the Google Suite, my Theology I students were still able to complete a project together that had been assigned a month earlier,” when school was still in session at 505 Washington.