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Ross Lyons

Science Teacher Sees Results in Remote Learning Experiment

Ross Lyons, chemistry and biology teacher at the High School, saw unexpected results in his students during remote learning.
The scientific disciplines rely heavily upon the direct experience in the controlled environment of the laboratory. The sciences at Ensworth also take advantage of the unique learning style that Harkness tables afford. 

For Ross Lyons, replicating the Harkness experience in his remote classroom proved to be a challenge, but the results were surprising. 

Ross explains, “I have been floored with how openly and enthusiastically the students have taken to these virtual discussion threads. They have engaged in back and forth discussion threads in ways that I haven't seen in the classroom. It is almost as if the removal of the face-to-face communication that can often facilitate negative behaviors on social media has the opposite effect by allowing students to share openly without the stress of being in the room with their classmates. They have time to think and compose articulate responses and truly listen to each other in ways that just don't come as naturally to them in the physical classroom.”

He admits that there have been other hurdles. “I found it difficult at first to authentically hear my students’ thoughts and struggles in their written work alone during remote learning,” he recounts. “On a few occasions, I have required students to record audio clips of themselves explaining a process or their theory on a free-response question. Although it took some time to listen to all of the files, the insights I was able to gain from these proved invaluable. This provided experience for students with the power of studying out loud and refining understanding by processing out loud.”

In his own teaching style, Mr. Lyons was able to switch gears and adapt his pacing to a more lighthearted and stress-reducing way. “Sharing some fun from spending time with my kids’ coloring and lego building,” he explains, “was of one of the ways I have ‘softened’ video lessons and synchronous sessions.” See the images of the tigers below.

He describes this new approach: “I am not always as good about this in the physical classroom with the rat race of the jam-packed demands of the daily schedule. This is a lesson that I will also take back to campus when we return.”

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