Photo by Kylie Schwartz
History teacher Kerry Koda "presented" notes while students discussed in the chat.

April Forum Recap: Going Virtual

April 3, 2020

The Forum has found ways to alter the unconventional nature of in person meetings to its first ever virtual forum held on April 3, 2020. 

With seventy three students and staff members gathered in the Google Meet, the meeting kicked off with a fun Kahoot made by ASB director Rod Keillor with trivia questions ranging from flag football to the welcome back dance. 

Fifty three students and twenty adults discussed concerns stemming from the stay at home order and possible solutions to keep the community connected. Here is the rundown of today’s meeting: 

 

Staying Connected 

Activities students would normally do at school have been moved online. A student in the Associated Student Body (ASB) mentioned their plans for upcoming events like Spirit Week for students. The Counseling Department has hosted a similar Spirit Week event for staff members, encouraging them to participate in themes ranging from hat day to Mustang Pride day.

Social media has temporarily alleviated the latter by providing ways to engage with the San Dieguito Academy community. A student-led initiative team at San Dieguito Academy has been working to build an app to address communication problems by having centralized information and sending out notifications in a faster and more efficient manner for the San Dieguito Academy community.  

For other activities, Susan Foote, the Learning Commons technician hosted Hogwarts quizzes and commented that if any students would like to access or request any ebooks on Sora, you should email her at susan.foote@sduhsd.net

Some homeroom teachers have found ways to stay connected with students through polls, messages, and check-ins on Google Classroom and Google Meet. One student said that their homeroom teacher Doña Bode has suggested movie nights on platforms like Netflix Party. Other students were pumped about the idea of a school Minecraft server.       

 

The New Normal: Distance Learning 

Students weighed in concerns over busy work and what changes can be made to increase better communication and structure. Many felt that the situation was like a collegiate experience in that students could have the flexibility to plan their day and materials would be prepared and provided by teachers before lectures. 

Many educators and students alike are trying their best to adjust to technology and distant communication. For classwork, students suggested for teachers to provide a clear purpose for the activities they were doing. Steven Dale, a math teacher, suggests to-do lists and calendars to organize information more efficiently. 

 

A lot of students also seemed to appreciate the idea of group collaboration. Having the opportunity to have discussion based learning while talking with one another via Google Docs or a Google Meet was brought up by one senior. Others enjoyed the ability to work at their own pace and appreciated teachers posting assignments on Google Classroom. 

Teachers and students will need to communicate often and classroom plans will be on a teacher to teacher basis. 

Concerns over students who are under-resourced were also brought up. There are meal distributions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. at San Dieguito Academy and Earl Warren Middle School. Additionally, SDUHSD is providing Chromebooks to address the digital divide. Still, there are concerns over internet access and other problems that need to be discussed.

 

Fourth Quarter Grades 

A large part of the discussion was focused on concerns with quarter grades. A straw poll was sent out to students asking for their preference on letter grades over a pass/ fail system next quarter. During the meeting, the strawpoll had a 55% (letter grades) to 45% (pass/ fail) ratio with thirty one responses. 

At 2 pm, San Dieguito Union High School District released an announcement stating that pass and fail grades will be officialized. 

A letter was sent out with the following message: 

“The decision was made in consultation with our principals, instructional leaders, and the San Dieguito Faculty Association. We all believe this is what is best for our students. This change in our grading policy will only apply to the 2019-20 school year. Moving to credit/no credit grading will benefit our staff and students without negative consequences for students with collegiate aspirations. The University of California System and the California State University System have both issued guidance that supports this decision.

Additionally, colleges across the country have made it clear that students will not be penalized for missing traditional standardized tests or for posting credit/no credit transcripts for this semester. We have assurances that private institutions will adopt policies so that students are not penalized for credit/no credit grading and a lack of opportunity to take standardized assessments. Harvard University has already posted this assurance online.” 

 

AP Exams

Assistant Principal Dr. Bobby Caughey, the Advanced Placement (AP) coordinator was there to inform students about the format for this year’s AP exams. Some students had questions over the open books and internet policy. Caughey addressed those concerns by stating that students would not have the time to look up information and the questions will be arbitrary enough to discourage students from cheating. 

For resources and review sessions, students should go on The College Board website and contact their teachers for more information. 

 

Join the Forum’s Google Classroom with your student account for more updates. The code is sq76kx5. 

Special thanks to Mrs. Koda and the Forum committee for hosting and providing notes 

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