Overnight the norm was delivering education through a virtual lens. Alondra Nelson, the president of the Social Science Research Council created a public document or ‘coronavirussyllabus’ to share resources in the virtual classroom. You can scroll down in this article to the words ‘public document’ and double-click to check out their google docs format that is a capturing of arts during the coronavirus.
By Alina Tugend, Phyllis W. Jordan and Mark A. Stein
Published Oct. 14, 2020Updated Oct. 15, 2020
This article is part of our latest Learning special report, which focuses on ways that remote learning will shape the future.
A fall semester unlike any ever known is underway in America.
The coronavirus is lurking around every corner like a ghoul in a Halloween cornfield, waiting to leap out and frighten — if not sicken or kill — anyone who dares pass by.
It has created chaos in the world of education, as some schools refuse to open while others do, only to close again as cases rise. Some are online, while some are in person — or both. The pressure on students, teachers, administrators, and parents is immense and has aggravated educational inequalities. Schools, after all, do more than deliver an education: they are a source of food, socialization, and internet connections to the rest of the world — along with child care providers for working parents.
The instability for so many who depend on all that is grim.
But wait. In every dark time across history some people rise up and cope — more than cope really. They demonstrate resilience, creativity and an ability to innovate.
Dig deeper into the moment.
Chris Cerf, who started his career as a high school teacher, served as the New Jersey education commissioner, deputy chancellor for New York City’s Department of Education, and is a founder of a nonprofit called Cadence Learning, is one of the optimists.
“I absolutely believe that we are going to come out of this pandemic having learned a great deal about how to deliver quality instruction to students,” he said.
You’ll find a handful of examples — snapshots, if you will — here and throughout our Learning section of creativity in a time of crisis.
It developed, as many things do these days, on Twitter.
In March, Anne Fausto-Sterling, an emerita professor of biology at Brown University, tweeted that professors should “teach the virus” whatever their discipline.
The ideas came pouring in with the hashtag #coronavirussyllabus, and Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and a professor of sociology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., collected them into a public document that now includes books (scholarly, fiction and graphic novels), medical journal articles, music and music videos, podcasts and radio, and archives.
Anyone can access the coronavirus syllabus; professors have already said they are using some of its resources in developing their classes. It is updated continuously, and once a month Professor Nelson issues a more curated version that appears on the Social Science Research Council website.
“We’re really trying to capture all the ways human society has tried and is trying to make sense of this quite dramatic change,” she said.
Team Teaching, Internet Style
Roberto de Leon starts his online English lesson by reading aloud with fifth grade students. When one student stumbles across a reference to a boa constrictor, the Bakersfield, Calif., teacher stops to describe how the snake squeezes its prey to death. Then he asks them what the boa has to do with the characters in the book.CORONAVIRUS SCHOOLS BRIEFING: It’s back to school — or is it?Sign Up
Across the country, dozens of local teachers play the tape and discuss them with their own students.
It’s part of Cadence Learning, which began as a summer learning program after schools across the nation moved to remote teaching in response to the pandemic. Its goal is to expose more students to the best teaching.
Under the model, a network of 16 “mentor teachers” provide online instruction to about 7,500 students across the country. The mentor teacher appears on the screen, along with three to five students who ask questions and discuss issues. “Partner teachers” then show the tape or use the same lesson plan, working in virtual breakout rooms with their own students.