Several students are taking online classes this year that involve minimal teacher guidance, including sophomore Giselle Khalil. She is enrolled in World and Regional Geography class through the platform Edgenuity, during the period she would usually play lacrosse.
“It tends to get stressful when it comes to keeping up with Edgenuity,” Khalil said. “There are some weeks when my other main classes are giving lots of work at the same time and I (fall) very behind on Edgenuity.”
Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) students in a variety of grades are experiencing the rewards and difficulties of taking online, primarily asynchronous classes. These classes are using platforms such as Edgenuity and Apex Learning, which provide tests and assignments virtually. They also grade students’ work automatically. Without these platforms, DPMHS would be unable to provide these classes at all.
“Apex is being used because we do not have enough students to fill up an AP Calculus class,” DPMHS counselor Martina Torres said. “We use Apex to help provide AP Calculus to those students who are ready for it. Edgenuity is a decision that the teacher makes. The teacher has the option to use Edgenuity or to give instruction themselves.”
DPMHS math teacher Tuan “Duke” Huynh is using Edgenuity for 95% of his students’ grades in his Algebra 1 and Geometry classes.
“The videos are easy to understand,” Duke said. “The quizzes and tests are doable. (However,) I would much rather be back in class where I can engage with students face to face. There’s no substitute for personal interaction.”
The Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB class is using Apex Learning. The class consists of nine seniors scattered throughout periods three and four.
“Because we have just started the course, I don’t feel prepared at all so far (for the AP exam),” senior AP Calculus student Kevin Castro Valencia said. “I am looking forward to learn.”
Math teacher Lori Seo is the mentor for the AP Calculus class, but she does not grade student work. Although she does not teach the students any material, she tries to make sure they succeed in the course and do well on the AP exam in the Spring.
“We chose Apex because Apex has a virtual teacher,” Seo said. “Although these students are in my class, they actually have a teacher that helps them virtually. I don’t teach them calculus. I’m the mentor and I’m the one who oversees their progress.”
This unprecedented year has brought many challenges to students taking online classes, including the lack of in-person support. Students are frustrated but are trying to make the best of the situation.
“I’ve been trying to tutor AP Calculus (students) in my free time,” Seo said. “Although having another Zoom session is a little bit rough, I’ve been trying to do a once a week Zoom session where I can check in on them to see how they’re doing. The more help the merrier.”