Clara Barton teacher: Kids have ‘about 30 minutes of science per day’

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are edited for length and clarity.

Tracey Schultz, science teacher, Clara Barton Open School

The rule of thumb for middle schoolers now is about 30 minutes of each class per day. So that’s about 30 minutes of science. We are doing the most essential pieces of our curriculum right now, which are those pieces that are spelled out in the state standards. But we’re losing a lot of other content, and that’s hard.

My lessons always have a component where the kids are watching a video I’ve made. There is still a science lesson, and it’s still taught by me, and it involves the student following the directions I lay out. It’s really deliberate [and] focused.

[In addition to regular virtual question-and-answer times] I’ve started offering another live time on Google Meet. For half an hour, I teach the lesson and then the kids stay at the end to get their questions answered. I really specifically target kids who are not engaging. That just doesn’t leave me anything left between my planning and my grading. Back at school, our homeroom was a really important part of my day. That’s a piece I just haven’t been able to fit in.

There’s a lot of really important rationale behind [the Minneapolis school district’s switch to a credit/no-credit grading system for grades 6-12 in fourth quarter, which was announced in late April]. I’m glad we have that credit option, because there are many kids that need it. But similarly, if things are really going well for you academically [and] if you have earned that A, I’m frustrated that what you’re going to see is a credit. If there were a way we could have credit/no credit but also a grade option, that would be great.

What we’ve kind of said as a team is that we hope we can just continue to report grades on the site where students and parents can see the grades, so kids can see that up until the end. We’re making sure that the kids who we have engaged start to see evidence of that in their grade. It doesn’t mean you go from zero to an A, but we’re making sure that kids who are looking at a grading screen aren’t seeing zero. These are young adults and we need to be honest with them, because that’s what they demand and that’s what they deserve.


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

 You can read all of the stories here.