Remote Learning Proves To Be A Challenging New Reality


Illustration by MacKenzie Smith

Remote learning included meeting virtually in many classes as a way for teachers to provide instruction or review assignments and expectations.

Molly Kennedy, Sports Editor


As the COVID-19 outbreak hit the US in mid-March, schools across the nation shut down to limit the spread of the virus. Students and teachers quickly had to adapt to the new reality of remote learning. Although there are many different platforms available to connect students and teachers, the transition is not easy and many students who may love sleeping in, are finding themselves missing the socialization and structure that being at school provided.

On March 21, Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, ordered the closing of all Massachusetts schools for the rest of the academic year. At WSHS, Quarter 4 marked the first quarter of distance learning and a new method of assessment. The new grading system utilized a Standard-Based Assessment which means students are graded on whether or not they reach the standard(s) taught in the assignment. The 5-point rubric includes (UN) which is a 1, up to exceeds standards (ES) which is a 5. Students are able to revise and improve their grades if it is scored less than Proficient (PR). 

It has been much easier for students to turn in work at all hours which was difficult for teachers. “Grading is much harder. It’s hard to find every student’s work, especially if I use different platforms such as Google forms, Quizizz, and Deltamath,” said Mrs. Fay, a math teacher at WSHS. Teachers assign work on different platforms in order to keep students engaged. 

AP classes were graded the same as they have been, which is through a rubric on a 6 point scale. Students took AP exams but from home. The exam was cut down to 45-minutes, and it contained less material. All of the multiple choice was removed and condensed to one or two written response questions. Doing an AP exam on the internet comes with a lot of anxiety due to the fact that the internet could stop working or your device could shut off. With many students taking and submitting the exams at the same time, it could lead them to having issues with submitting. 

Most students’ virtual learning concludes of 15-20 minute sessions where teachers go over their expectations for the week. The majority of teachers assign work for each class through Google Classroom which they had been using throughout the school year. Google Classroom includes many different ways in order for students to see the work and instructions that teachers assign. Teachers can make a rubric, or show how many points the assignment is out of, “The “Stream” tab is like the board. “I always include Date, Agenda & Learning Goals (at the top),” said science teacher Mrs. Berrelli. Teachers and students can also use the comments feature to ask questions or to provide feedback on their assignments. Math is a very visual subject, “I think making my own videos and giving assignments that are similar to what I would do in class is working best,” said Mrs. Fay.

Still, different disciplines require different methods to help students learn the content and classroom instruction, discussion, and collaboration are very different without face-to-face interactions. “Without students being required to attend virtual class meetings, having discussions and reaching deeper levels while working with texts was lacking,” said one WSHS English teacher. “While the platforms provided allowed students to access new material and receive feedback on their work, it just wasn’t the same experience. It felt isolating and the idea of making connections with students and content in an authentic way will be difficult if remote learning continues in the future.” 

Some subjects required teachers to find unique ways to reach their students and address standards. PE teachers used activity logs in order to promote exercise. Along with activity logs, PE teachers have also had students count calories, and another log students use to track the activities they miss. Similarly, many art students created art in online portfolios and submitted reflections on their work. 

Online schooling has been hard to adjust to, not seeing friends in each class and in the hallways removed the social aspect of school. Teachers were instructed to assign no more than three hours of work per class in a given week. While some students felt that not all teachers followed this guideline, others were able to use remote learning as an opportunity to bring their grades up. 

Still, students struggled to find the motivation to do school work, and self-discipline was put to the test for many students. As the 2020-2021, school year plans are not fully known, in order to fulfill the safety requirements put out by the state, the possibility of rotating between remote and face-to-face instruction may be part of “the new normal”.