Pascack Valley High School (New Jersey) English teacher Matt Morone was maybe a quarter of the way through his morning coffee when students began to respond to The Autobiography of Malcolm X on Twitter.
. . . For students, it was a lesson in time management and self-driven learning, one he’s sure they’ll take to college. For teachers, it was a chance to try ideas they’ve only pondered before. For everyone else? Proof.
“We are in a fortunate position here … but you don’t need a whole lot of infrastructure to do some of the stuff we’re doing,” Morone said. “There are means by which to do this. A lot of Twitter discussion is through iPads, cell phones — whichever glowing rectangle you want to use, that’s fine.”
Sophomore Zak Terzini contributed concisely to the Malcom X discussion. He had 140 characters to make his point. He listened to the tweeted views of classmates whodon’t speak up in class. Later, “he listened to a teacher explain some algebra concepts, completed some history work and forced himself to figure out some stoichiometry problems that he might’ve given up on if he’d been in the same room as the chemistry teacher.”
Going into Pascack Valley Regional’s virtual school day, teachers feared some students wouldn’t log in, despite warnings that the day’s assignments would count toward their grades. It wasn’t a problem: The virtual school day had higher attendance than they expect on a normal school day, the superintendent said.
“It was energizing, invigorating,” said social studies teacher Karen Kosch, who has taught in Pascack Valley schools for 28 years. “I don’t mean to sound corny, but we were all in it together.”
Knowing that snow was in the forecast, the high school sent home laptops with students who needed them. That works if most students already have digital access at home. And it helps if the power doesn’t go out all day.