How Do Hands-On Courses Look Online At LRHS?

Pictured is artwork made during virtual art class by Maria Cortes. The piece was a choice piece made during the first week of online classes.

All students in Wake County have launched their school years online. LRHS offers a variety of hands-on classes, including: Visual Arts, Gym, Team Sports, PEPI, Weight Training, etc. 


Students have several different reasons behind how they feel hands-on courses are going online so far. A senior at Leesville Road High, Maria Cortes, said via text, “So far it’s been okay. I enjoy it personally. I feel like I can make my own schedule and the classes are not long. Doing art away from the classroom isn’t too strange, and I don’t like going to school as much anyways.” 


Joseph Bennett, freshman, said via text, “Class has been good so far; there’s not much [class] work or homework.” 


Teachers have been doing their best to continue giving students the best virtual learning space that is possible. Mr. Shingler, Visual Arts teacher, said via email, “Very challenging in some ways and surreally smooth in others.  You may have heard the expression ‘we are building the plane as we fly it’ well this feels more like ‘we are falling out of the plane and rebuilding it.’” 


Shingler explained that he and Mr. Patterson (another Visual Arts teacher at Leesville Road High) are doing what they can to give their students the best virtual art experience possible. “Mr. Patterson and I have been working hard to collaborate and come up with engaging and creative pushing assignments that can be done from home.  So far I believe it has gone well,” said Shingler.


Bennett explained that his gym teacher, Coach Rogers, has only explained what units will be covered, but not much of how gym class will work online. “…Bowling and other sports, but he hasn’t said what we would actually do for it,” said Bennett. 


Seemingly, the required freshmen gym classes will try to focus mostly on the health units of the course at the beginning of virtual learning. Cortes said the same about her art class: “Not much in detail [about what class will look like online], but my teacher emphasizes how much he hopes to see us in person as soon as possible.”


Julius Rice, senior, said via text, “Teachers have informed us that in Lifetime we will be talking about many sports and going deeper into the history of the sport.” Rice also explained that his Weight Training class has in fact been working out together virtually.


With much understanding, a majority of classes have been working on easing into virtual classes and taking opportunities to get to know their students away from the classroom. Visual Arts students have been working on personality self portraits.


 “That’s [the self portraits] is the only exciting thing so far, but I’m sure big projects will be assigned to work on at home soon,” said Cortes. 


Bennett mentioned how his gym class has had conversations about COVID-19, and how it has affected them and the sports they play. Conversations about the sports schedule for this year have also come into conversation for his class.


Completing hands-on courses online comes with many difficulties, some that don’t have solutions quite yet. “Sometimes the internet can start to act up, and the awkward silences after a teacher asks a question that no one wants to answer are strange, but I’m sure those difficulties and awkwardness goes for a majority of virtual classes,” said Cortes. 


Bennett said, “I think the most difficult thing is going to have to do a bunch of written work in place of hands-on learning [for these courses], which I’m better with.”


Shingler identifies the most difficult thing about virtual learning as technology; “As it is known, technology is not the most forgiving entity.  Keeping up with everything and not getting behind on all the many aspects of teaching online is stressful.  There is little forgiveness if you make a mistake with regard to technology,” said Shingler


RIce is most concerned about not being able to play the sport as a class after they learn about the history. “The most difficult part of taking Lifetime at home is after we learn about the sport together, we can’t play the sport together as a class in person,” said Rice.


Staff and students are both excited and slightly intimidated by what the future will like for these courses online. Many teachers and students are missing the community feel of being in the classroom. “The community experience [the biggest difference between in class and virtual learning]. When in person, one can easily look at, glean from, and engage in conversations easily about other people’s work.  That has not easily been the case so far with virtual classes,” said Shingler.


However, LRHS and Wake County plan to make the most out of this situation, and provide students with the best virtual learning experience they can provide. Many hope to be back in the classroom as soon as it is safe to do so, working on hands-on projects, and interacting with our peers as a community. 


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