Teachers turn to unique strategies during remote learning

Block schedule demands a variety of tools to keep students engaged, including breakout rooms, independent work and TikTok


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Science teacher John Miller distributes Physics materials on Trevian Way

With the school year beginning Aug. 26, teachers have implemented several ideas to make their classroom more engaging and productive during remote learning. 

At the beginning of the school year, New Trier decided to remain remote until October due to COVID-19. The new block schedule allows students to have each of their classes every other day four days a week, and all of their classes on Trevian Days. 

Due to the 70 minute periods, teachers had to modify their lesson plans so that students are engaged and able to comprehend the material. 

For science teacher, Dr. David Haak, some ways he is able to keep students engaged during the 70 minute period is by slowing down presentations and using shorter periods of time for presenting. He also uses  breakout rooms as much as he can and has changed labs to be more analytical than hands on. 

Haak has a unique style to ensure that students are engaged and participating in class.

“I have students take themselves off of mute and they are responding to questions. It makes the feedback and responding of questions a little more fluid” explained Haak. 

Hanna Cohen in the science department uses a popular social media platform, Tik Tok, and incorporates that into her style of teaching. 

“I use it because it is a way to connect with students and get to know them on their level. I know many students (if not all) use the app, so it’s a great way for students to take in information and present it back in the form of projects and such,” said Cohen. 

Cohen uses the Tik Tok app because she notices her students also enjoy the aspect of combining social media with the lesson.

“I started using it when I was a student teaching at Stevenson last year, and they were always engaged in it. I love that it’s limited to 60 seconds, so it’s an easy way to show your understanding of a subject,” said Cohen. 

Cohen believes that Tik Tok helps build a stronger relationship with students. However, she knows that it may not resonate with all students. 

“ I’m aware that not all of my students use TikTok, but for a lot of students, using TikTok is encouraging,” explained Cohen. 

Some classes have different styles of teaching. For example, classes can meet synchronously or asynchronously depending on the teachers preferences and lesson plans. 

 “I like to do a break up of a little bit of lecture, some breakout room time where students can work together, then come back and discuss, and maybe a little more lecture and then asynchronous work time,” said Dr. Haak.

Though classes don’t physically meet in person, some classes were able to do a drive by material pick up. Dr. Haak did a drive by packet pick up for his science class.

“We have been blessed with the PPS and security being willing to have the packets at the front door to pass out. The fact that they could just be there for a large period of time for students to pick up the packets based on their schedule was super helpful in trying to get that done,” said Dr. Haak.

The responses from students regarding the remote learning process has been very positive as well. Wynne Hague discusses how Haak has aided her through the past few weeks in her science classes. 

“Dr. Haak has helped a lot with adjusting to all remote learning. One thing that’s been particularly helpful is he makes students in our Anatomy class un-mute on zoom and talk through new topics and concepts. It really helps my understanding and keeps me engaged because I know I’ll be called at some point to share my understanding,” said Hague.