First-week review: School-wide modules contain valuable information with potential of being successful

September 6, 2020 — by Kavita Sundaram

When I looked at the schedule for the first week of school, I was surprised to see that it consisted of a meager hour and 15 minutes of classes followed by a three-hour block filled with something called modules. These modules, as I would find out, were activities and informative videos centered on ideas like wellness, organization and consent culture.  

While these modules harbored good intentions, many were lengthy and had few breaks, two issues that made them less effective overall. 

One thing to keep in mind with regard to modules is that the audience is a bunch of sleep-deprived, busy and easily bored high schoolers. Knowing that, the modules that I found most effective were those that were not too long but still informative and helpful, like the COVID-19 presentation and the guidance Q&A.

One specific module that could have been more effective was an asynchronous video “Unity Makes Community.” This video addressed important topics specific to the school such as  anti-racism and consent culture. While I appreciate the administration addressing these topics head-on, putting them in a 55-minute asynchronous video diminished their importance and did not leave students with the intended effects. 

Because many of the issues addressed were so specific to our own district, I would have preferred hearing about this in a synchronous call with interactive aspects. Having the video be asynchronous not only encouraged many students to simply skip the video, but also prevented students from asking questions and engaging with the topics. 

Still, the modules had its highlights. Brief, informative videos like Dr. Yi-Mei Chng’s COVID-19 presentation and Verna Meyers’ TEDTalk were interesting and eye-opening. 

As a student, it was valuable to see the pandemic through the lens of a doctor. Chng talked about the specific reasons for wearing a mask and social distancing, encouraging students to be wary even in small groups of five or less people. This is something that was important to educate a young audience on, especially at a time when students have become more reckless and restless. 

Synchronous calls like the Guidance Q&A and the class meetings were also helpful and instructive given that the information covered is sometimes harder to be aware of in online school. 

The weekly advisory periods seemed a lot more effective. With their 30-minute time frames, it’s a lot easier to focus on and appreciate the material. It was also interesting to watch a video coming from an authentic voice on something unrelated to school, which I found very beneficial. 

I found the TEDTalk by America Ferrera timely and applicable to our own school climate as she talked about what it means to be an American, a question that many students here grapple with. 

The following week’s virtual simulation also gave valuable insight on how to have difficult conversations with others. While it might have seemed a little awkward or unnatural, the simulation addressed a very important topic to a high school audience: mental health. It is important to educate students on how to cope with their own mental health and that of those around them, and the simulation offered assistance on how to approach this topic.

With modules being in the weekly schedule for the rest of the year, I look forward to interacting with the educational videos. If the modules stay within informative topic ranges applicable to highschoolers, they will be valuable and effective. 

 

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Due to the lightning complex that occurred in the week of Aug.17, Santa Clara County is currently surrounded by wildfires, covering the city of Saratoga in heavy smoke. The air quality was in the range of 100 to 200 for the past five days, forcing SHS to close down. Photo by Selina Chen.

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