Performance Based Classes Find New Ways of Learning

At-home learning has changed the assignments for performance based classes (art, P.E., music) as they are no longer able to teach and grade in person. Ever since March 13, all schools in Maryland have been closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This has led to the process known as at-home learning completed online by students and teachers. MCPS is using Zoom video chats in order to keep teachers and students in touch. In addition, MCPS has made the fourth quarter into a pass or fail grading system. 

During the lockdown, art teachers and students have had to adapt to different kinds of assignments. They have been asked to watch art related TED talks and answer questions but teachers are also trying to keep their students creating art.

“We’ve just been given some quick prompts and asked to draw, paint, or try to create something out of the materials we have available in our homes,” said junior art student Andrea Rentel. 

Compared to other classes, her art class has had a similar process for handing in work but the level of difficulty is lower.

“I haven’t handled my art class that differently than my other classes because the process of being given assignments and turning them in is pretty much the same. The workload is smaller, though, and I use my art assignments as a sort of stress reliever so it doesn’t feel much like schoolwork,” explained Rentel.

P.E. classes have also had to adapt during this time as the teachers can no longer monitor the students physical activity. For some classes, such as weight training, students are asked to log what they do for a workout instead of lifting weights in a workout plan. However, others, such as specialty basketball, are trying new ways of learning. 

“The assignments I have used in class since we went online were designed to connect what students had been learning to new information within the content area,” said specialty basketball teacher, Mr. Thomas Lang. 

They also had to create a fitness plan but had written assignments on top of that. Students had to write a 3 paragraph essay explaining the role of physical education in the prevention of disease, read articles about shooting a basketball and answer questions, and analyze basketball fitness products and training camps and write an essay. This is a major change to the way this class is usually taught on the basketball court.

“I generally spend 6-8 hours a day on the computer either planning and setting up assignments, grading assignments, recording lesson navigational videos, hosting zoom sessions or sending and responding to emails,” said Lang.

Another performance based class that has been affected is music classes. Chorus class has strayed away from performance based grading and delved into written assignments and quizzes. Students have had to listen to NPR tiny desk concerts on YouTube and review them,  listen to the song “Lean on Me” and respond with how it made them feel, and take quizzes about musical concepts, such as rhythm and beat. Other classes, such as guitar class, have had to change the assignments because students do not have access to instruments.

“Now lessons ask students to show they can personally connect with building blocks like rhythm, melody, and form with resources they will have at home,” explained guitar teacher Mr. David Rogoza.

However, although students have had to submit different kinds of assignments, there is still more room for creativity compared to other classes.

“It mostly differs from other classes with our major submission is usually a video and allows for more creativity,” said senior guitar student Maria Lanasa.