family and consumer science (FACS) teacher Chelsea Sanchez-Mueller has a new cooking show this school year, broadcast live to groups of around 20 students at a time.
It's one thing to convey the theory of preparing a scrambled egg to middle schoolers through virtual learning. It's another thing, entirely, to show them how to do it.
"It goes to the hands-on aspect of our classes. The kids have to be in the kitchen cooking," Sanchez-Mueller said. "That's something they're going to have to do on their own at home, those hand skills that you have to physically do away from a computer."
Sanchez-Mueller and the rest of Rockwood's career and technical education teachers have risen to the challenge of translating their largely hands-on curriculum into a virtual format for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
For Sanchez-Mueller, who helped write the FACS curriculum over the summer, the first few weeks have involved a fair amount of tell and show: teach the students about the fundamentals of keeping the kitchen safe and clean, then showing them how to prepare the recipes they will be responsible for cooking.
She has also used technology to reimagine ways to deliver some of the more conventional material. She used Zoom breakout rooms, for example, to simulate a picnic in which cases of food poisoning happened, then tasked the students with finding the culprits.
"They all got a card saying what they ate, what the symptoms were, then they went to breakout rooms to interview each other and determine what food caused it," Sanchez-Mueller said. "I'm doing as much as I can to get them interacting and talking with each other."
In the technology education and material processes disciplines, teachers such as Rockwood Summit High's
Mike Brown and Lafayette High's
Jodie Fowler are using the period of virtual learning to lay a foundation of knowledge for their students so they can get started completing hands-on projects as soon as they return to classrooms.
Fowler, who teaches Digital Electronics and Principles of Engineering at Lafayette, practices a "flipped classroom" style during normal times. That means the students work through a lesson on their own and take notes, then Fowler reinforces the material by working through demonstrations of problems with them.
That method hasn't changed much during virtual learning, she said.
"My goal is that we learn all of the book stuff while we're online," Fowler said. "I want to get through the things that require handwriting, math problems, scientific method and design process so that, when we get back to the classroom, we'll be able to do the projects that apply what they've already learned."
Brown, who teaches Geometry in Construction (GIC) and Metal Processes at Rockwood Summit, said his fellow teachers have been creating videos of safety rules and how to use different machines so that students will have a working knowledge when they return to the classroom.
He said educators such as Gayle Piepho, his GIC co-teacher, Eureka High's
Bill Edwards and Rockwood Coordinator of STEM and Digital Learning Brian Reed were instrumental in readying the GIC curriculum for an online launch.
"There are a lot of people in this district that put a lot of work into this over the summer," Brown said. "We talk about what we can do to improve the lessons, improve the learning every day. We're coaching up kids and telling them it's a little bit different from what they're used to, but they're going to have to learn to take ownership for their learning. We're here to support them, and we want them to be successful."