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Ridgefield Teachers Overcome Challenges to Teach Online
Marie Bouvier
Monday, January 25, 2021

When classes went fully online in March, teachers had to adapt their lesson plans and classroom ideas.  But how do you teach a class that is almost entirely hands on, like PE, shop, or band?  Some Ridgefield teachers found creative ways to make online learning work for their students. 

Band

Hearing and seeing students play music is an important part of band class, but it’s difficult to do on Zoom.  Fortunately, band teacher Stephanie Bloom was up for the challenge.

Her experienced band students adjusted quickly, but for brand new band students, Bloom had to teach them how to play their instruments via Zoom.  She patiently demonstrated each instrument and song in class, then asked students to video themselves playing.  “I spent a lot of time watching videos—which meant I might have to hear Hot Cross Buns for the 78th time,” she laughed.   Bloom wasn’t sure how well it would work, but her students are all doing well.  Hopefully they’ll be able to play together in real life sometime soon.

Band teacher Stephanie Bloom made videos to show new band students how to play each instrument.

Physical Education

Physical education classes had to leave the gyms, equipment, and fields behind at the school.  How can you keep a class full of students in motion when you are all miles apart?  Ridgefield High School PE teachers use PLT4M, a program to track students’ workouts, progress, and fitness test achievements from a desktop or smartphone. 

Teacher Ted Beyer explained, “Our general PE classes are using very fitness-oriented programs requiring only equipment that students can create using their backpacks, water jugs, broomsticks, etc.”  The shift to a more flexible concept of sports equipment and workouts means students have been able to stay fit even from home. 

From the PLT4M program, you can choose videos, track activities and more.

Wood and Metal Shop

Most students’ homes don’t have the specialized tools for shop class, like table saws and welding equipment.  So high school shop teacher Chris Shipp moved as much of his class as he could into online experiences—even the woodworking and metalworking projects.

Shipp decided to go alone to the high school shop and make every project himself, filming each step from start to finish for his students.  “I walked them through all the projects,” he explained, “doing demonstrations on what a student would have gone through if they were doing the work themselves.”  While it’s not quite the same as being there in person, Shipp’s students now have the training to jump right in when they get back to the shop floor. 

Ridgefield High School shop teacher Chris Shipp made each class project, step by step, for his students, including this Texas Star.

The Ridgefield High School Shops Instagram reminded students in March that the shift to virtual learning was temporary.

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Ridgefield teachers and students have gone above and beyond to make online learning a positive experience.  Bloom pointed out that everyone has had to be flexible for online learning to be a success, and she’s proud of what the students have achieved.  “They’re all progressing at a pace that makes sense for online learning,” she said.  “They’re showing us they can do it.”  As classes begin to transition gradually to hybrid learning models, Ridgefield teachers and students are proving they can overcome all kinds of challenges.