Electives reshape to fit COVID-19 guidelines
By Jett Legry, Reporter
Electives that have to do with building, sculpting, and casting are hard to conduct during a global pandemic. Even so, teachers and students are doing their best. Vashon High School’s jewelry, pottery, and woodworking electives are continuing in quarantine, although the teachers’ methods have changed.
In some cases, the classes are going better than the teacher imagined.
“I was very hesitant. I did not see it as able to work well. But I’ve been incredibly pleasantly surprised with how it’s gone,” ceramics teacher Kristen Adams said.
The teachers and administrators worked together to ensure that the students have all of the materials they need for creating their work.
“We were able to make sure that students were able to get their hands on kits and get enough supplies and equipment to take home with them,” Adams said.
The jewelry department also puts together homework kits, putting an emphasis on not losing the hands-on experience of making something.
“I purchased toolboxes… and I loaded them up with quite a few tools… My goal has been to not have that CTE hands on experience go away,” jewelry teacher Kate Dunagan said.
Even with the kits, the at-home experience has been vastly different from the classroom environment, and came with its own set of unique problems. Students face issues such as faulty cords, bad internet, or not being able to connect with the teachers and receive one-on-one assistance.
“It was initially, and still is challenging to figure out how to have those conversations with students one-on-one… Now, when you’re sharing, you tend to be in front of the whole classroom. Breakout rooms can make that somewhat easier. But I would say it’s so different and not as achievable. Whereas in person, I can much more easily have individual or small group discussions,” Adams said.
Teaching online requires the teachers to shorten their lessons and make them easier to understand, but clear explanation and help is still needed.
“I have simplified to an extent so that everyone is able to follow from home… and especially with the quarter model, we’ve really just condensed everything,” Adams said. “So projects are on a quicker timeline than they might normally be. But I would say the core of the work and the quantity is generally the same. We’re still learning the same methods. We’re just learning them in a more timely manner.”
During October the pottery students are doing what they always would be, shaping monsters out of clay to give to kindergarteners. Chautauqua kindergarteners draw monsters, and the students in the pottery class bring them to life. This year they will drop off their monsters at the high school for Adams to fire.
A clay monster made by a ceramics student holds its arms out with a large smile on its face. Despite electives being moved online, the ceramics class has still managed to adapt and make the traditional monsters for the kindergarteners at the elementary school.
These electives are challenging to conduct in quarantine, but the teachers and the students are doing their best to make it work.
“When students take my class, they get a chance to have a break from the grind of sitting staring at a screen all day long and they get their hands in the toolboxes and learn a new skill, and do something creative. A tiny amount of creative space, wherever you are in your life, is good for your spirit.” Dunagan said.