Google Meeting the Bible Again for the First Time: Days 12-14 of Summer School

I was wrong. I didn’t find the key to grid view using Google Meet. At least not one that works consistently. The extension ‘Grid View’ by GitHub has become increasingly unstable that past few days. It prevented by Assistant Teacher from signing on until she uninstalled it. I used it last a few days ago and it wasn’t a grid but a bunch of slivers stacked on one another. I couldn’t see anything but a few names. Google Meet needs to add this feature as a standard one before the fall.

Otherwise, summer school has been great. I’ll continue to post reflections on the actual content and teaching over the rest of the summer. But I haven’t encountered much that is new regarding the art of online teaching. The first week was the learning curve. I’ve settled into a routine since then.


Google Meeting the Bible Again for the First Time: Day 4 of Summer School

We’re almost a week into my three week summer school class and here are some concerns:

  1. It’s hard to address absences. Brick-and-mortar school is easier. The student is present or absent. Maybe traffic or car problems can muddy things a bit. Online classes make it harder to know whether an excuse is being given or if there’s a real situation. Summer school, specifically, is a problem because each day is like a week, so one day of bad Internet connection is worse than one day of car trouble.
  2. I like Google Meet. I don’t dislike Zoom but it’s not my favorite. That said, Zoom allows you to see all the faces present…Google Meet doesn’t. I downloaded an extension that should allow me to implement grid view tomorrow. We’ll see if it works! If so, that takes care of that problem.

Otherwise, things are going really well. At some point I’ll share some of my students insights. Their discussions of Lamentations 1 and Psalm 137 were great. I want to say more about that when I have time!

Educating in the Era of COVID-19: Week 1

The first week of digital/online learning is coming to an end. Monday was a day of preparation and the releasing of some online assignments. Tuesday‘s highlight was meeting with my advisees on Google Meet and posting more assignments. Wednesday was my first opportunity to check-in with my students as each class session became a Google Meet and a good percentage of my students made an appearance. Thursday including posting more assignments and using Google Meet to host our first online Philosophy Club meeting. Today, I did the bulk of my grading for the assignments from earlier in the week and participated in a faculty and staff meeting via Zoom.

I want to return to Thursday. Ten or so students joined our Philosophy Club meeting and they talked about COVID1-9, love, and capitalism (yes, it bounced a bit) for an entire hour. Most importantly, they did the talking. My colleague, Fr. Nate Bostian, and I were the adults in the online room, but they were the ones doing the philosophizing! The students enjoyed it so much that they want to do two meetings each week! Of course, I support this.

I hope all you students, parents, educators, and administrators are doing well after this week. I hope we’re being patient with one another and supportive. I’m sure we’re all trying to do our best during these difficult times.

Educating in the Era of COVID-19: Day 3

Our school has a daily chapel. Sometimes this chapel features a unique tradition: one of our seniors gives a talk to the whole community. Obviously, there won’t be any chapels of this sort for a while, though our seniors will be recording videos of their talks that will be shared. One of the young ladies in our Residential Life program wanted to practice before doing the ‘official’ recording, so one of our ‘parents’ set up a Zoom meeting. A couple dozen or so of us signed in, applauded, muted our mics, listened to her talk, and then unmuted to applaud again. It was a heart-warming experience and the talk was great.

This is an example of the small things humans are doing to make things better during these trying times. It may seem irrelevant to some that people signed into Zoom to watch someone practice a talk but it meant the world to this kid. And it was important for our community as we seek to find practices that will normalize what we’re experiencing.

Today, I’m ‘meeting’ with my classes via Google Meet. While I’m leaving time for them to ask questions about their online classwork, my main concern is to ask how they’re doing and how they’re using their time (not to berate them about time-management but to make sure they’re connecting with family and friends and finding things to keep them busy). So far, it appears that it’s like a weird hybrid of summer break and homework, but they seem to be doing well and that’s what matters most.

Day 2
Day 1

Educating in the Era of COVID-19: Day 2

Yesterday, Google Classroom revealed to me that my students have received their assignments and some of them even completed them already! Most of my classes receive their assignments today. Our school has divided up the week so that students receive materials on different days based on what class period they would’ve been studying that topic. So, for example, my 3rd Period students received their classwork (which doubles as homework!) yesterday since Periods 1-3 receive materials on Mondays and Thursdays, whereas my 4th-7th Period students (I teach 3rd-7th) all received their materials today and will receive more on Friday.

This morning I used Google Meet to conduct a virtual Advisory. It was good to see my advisees. They seem to be doing well. Most of them shared a basic report: it’s super easy to get all their work done, but they miss being with people. Welcome to online learning, students!

To protect us, and our students, my employer requires that we record our online sessions. Google Meet’s recording option is simple. I imagine the same is true of Zoom. Additionally, this allows me to post the video for advisees/students who may have missed the ‘live’ event.

Today I’m lesson planning for my ‘Religion in the United States’ course. My students will learn about the Latter-day Saints and the Adventists this week. Next week, they’ll be introduced to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostals. I tie these groups together in a few ways. First, they’re all expressions of Christianity that emerged in an American context. Second, they’re all shaped by the glow of the Civil War and world as it was around the turn from the 19th century to the 20th century. Third, each group is ‘restorationist’ in nature, claiming to have found something about the earliest version of Christianity that had been lost and needed to be recovered. Fourth, each group emphasizes the Second Coming of Christ in some way whether it be the very identity of the Latter-day Saints, or the predictions of William Miller for the Adventists, or the mystery of the 144,000 for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the restoration of ‘apostolic power’ during the ‘latter rain’ for the Pentecostals. I’ll miss discussing these groups in person, in class, with my students. They’re all fascinating in their own right. I just hope my students still get a basic understanding of these movements, their founders, their distinctive identities and such, in spite of being limited to the virtual classroom.

Day 1