History (Class) Repeats Itself - With A Virtual Twist

April 29, 2020


At the end of her Cold War unit, Ms. Morgan Lieske always holds a conference for her sophomore US History students to debate how it started. While this year's conference had to be held online, the format was able to remain almost identical.

Lieske split the class into two, so they each heard about 10 speeches from their classmates on a Google Meets call. She offered extra credit for those that dressed or acted with the demeanor of a historian, so some students showed up for the call wearing a bowtie or a jacket over a t-shirt and sweatpants.

"It has been difficult not having a class atmosphere and being able to see all of my students' beautiful faces every day," Lieske reflected. "I have noticed that some students are thriving in this online format, because they are able to manage their time in a different way. I think all of our students are forced to gain self-motivation, time management, and organization skills that they have not had to use in the past. Hopefully, they can take those skills into the rest of their academic and professional careers."
 
She has also found that some students are more proactive about reaching out virtually if they don't understand a concept. She's been connecting with her students one-on-one to review concepts and make sure everyone stays up to date. 
 
While some of her classroom activities, such as the historical conference, have stayed almost identical in an online format, others have changed significantly. For example, Lieske has started holding group quizzes. She will invite small groups to join a Google Meet, and quiz them as a group. They are graded on both their final answers and their collaboration. 
 
"This has been a great way to have them talk through concepts and is a way I can hear that they are actually talking through the material, not just trying to look up the answers. I will likely do something like this in the future, when we have returned to campus, because it showcases the social and interpersonal learner," Lieske said.

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