Carlmont’s PE and music programs adapt to in-person learning

Returning+to+in-person+learning+has+affected+classes+like+the+physical+education+and+music+programs.+%22There%27s+only+a+couple+of+students%2C+so+the+ensemble+doesn%27t+have+the+power+that+it+normally+would+have+when+you+have+60+people+playing+music+in+a+room+together%2C%22+Switzer+said.

Rebecca Von Tersch

Returning to in-person learning has affected classes like the physical education and music programs. “There’s only a couple of students, so the ensemble doesn’t have the power that it normally would have when you have 60 people playing music in a room together,” Switzer said.

With students returning to campus, classes have had to adapt new strategies for learning. 

Not all classes have students sitting at a desk and taking notes for the entire period. Carlmont’s music and physical education (PE) programs have implemented new formats to continue teaching. 

In an effort to provide the same level of education as a typical school year, many classes have used websites or apps. The PE and music programs have also done this, and students on campus still use these apps. 

“Soundtrap is like Garage Band meets Google Docs. You can record yourself and make multiple tracks, and the information exists in the cloud rather than living on your computer. Without [Soundtrap], I don’t know how we would have done anything this year. The app itself is a bit finicky, but everyone has been really understanding and patient in working out the kinks so that we can all make the most of this experience,” said Brian Switzer, one of Carlmont’s music teachers. 

The PE program also uses an app during class. This app is called FitLife Lifestyle, and it enables students to send videos of their workouts to their teachers. But using apps to modify the curriculum is not the only change brought on by distance learning. Teachers have had to take out units in their curriculum to account for less time in class. 

“The swim and dance units are the more difficult ones. It’s not the same as in-person; it’s a little different for kids to be able to play their own music and dance along to it and record themselves. We don’t need to do a couple of the dances; some dances were for if we were in person. And we can’t expect kids to swim on their own,” said Irene Oliveira, a PE teacher at Carlmont. 

Now that some students attend in person, the Carlmont administration made safety modifications to ensure everyone is safely distanced. 

“On campus, we’re using the weight room, and we’re rolling up all three doors. Outside the weight room, we painted squares across the blacktop. Each person has their own workout [space],” said David Heck, who teaches PE and weight training at Carlmont. 

For the most part, students participating in PE exercise outside. Due to safety guidelines, some students in the music program are also set up outside. The music rooms have been modified to allow for synchronization of the ensembles during class.

“There are these different guidelines that we’re trying to follow, and one of which is for wind players. Wind instruments can’t be playing indoors just yet, so we have them sitting right outside the door,” Switzer said. “I’m running Zoom just as I was before, except I have a big speaker hooked up [to my computer]. All of the audio is coming out of the speaker so that anyone who is live can play with the speaker and be in sync. If they use their headphones, they would be out of sync because of Zoom lag.” 

Although students are on campus, teachers have said that it is not the same as before distance learning. The social aspect is not the same, and teaching to a screen differs significantly from teaching to actual people.

“It’s not as normal; there are usually 40 kids in front of me, being active for about 40 minutes out of our 50 minute class period. Like the dance unit, it’s one of those things where you know in person would be so much better,” Oliveira said. 

So far, according to some of the teachers, there have not been many challenges with returning to in-person. The dynamic of distance learning vastly differs from that of in-person learning, but it does not inhibit adapting to these new circumstances. 

“The only challenge was really engaging with that game of cat and mouse that happens, and trying to kind of manage the behavior that happens between high school students and their teachers. It’s kind of part of the fun, and I like it,” Switzer said.

Even though returning to campus has been relatively challenge-free, Heck feels that he has been less productive back on campus.

“The time that I’m spending commuting would be time that I could have been teaching [in distance learning]. I just feel like time is being taken away from me,” Heck said.

Overall, the return to in-person learning has been positive, despite the need to adapt more for some classes. 

“We only have a few weeks left in the school year. I think we can we can get through this and figure out what’s going to be the best solution, moving forward,” Heck said. 

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