CENTRAL CITY — As teachers across Nebraska make the move to online learning due to the coronavirus, two Central City Public Schools teachers are collaborating to bring video lessons to their students.
When Central City first started talking about moving classes online due to COVID-19, middle school music teacher Dane Christensen said, his classes already had an online presence, but this was new to middle school physical education teacher Darin Garfield.
Christensen said since they teach the same students on opposite days, they suggested to their principal, Holee Hanke, that they collaborate on their online teaching. Hanke agreed to this and Christensen added Garfield to his Google Classroom, changing the title on it to “PE/Music.”
For the past two weeks, Christensen and Garfield have made two videos — one for each of their respective classes — that they then post on Google Classroom as an assignment for their students. The videos have an Olympics theme that discuss various Olympic sports and music from the country where that sport originated.
“Each video is on Google Classroom and incorporates an assignment,” Garfield said. “Students are required, for their weekly grade, to send us a video or a still photo of themselves doing the activity that we did.”
Garfield said this is the second week he and Christensen have made the teaching videos for their students. Last week’s videos were about Scotland and golf. This week’s videos are about Greece and wrestling.
“It is just like any other lesson, whether it is in-person or online, as it requires a little bit of research,” Christensen said. “Obviously, I am not an expert on each of these countries, but I know where to find resources that I can share with the kids.”
Garfield said he and Christensen work to make each of their videos fun while being put in situations that they are not used to being in. Garfield said he sang, danced and played the accordion, which are things not normally associated with a PE teacher.
Christensen said as part of the video lessons, he has also done things he would never have guessed he would be doing as a music teacher. For example, for a video lesson on Greece, he sported a singlet to demonstrate wrestling moves alongside Garfield.
“We want students to find humor in it, too,” Garfield said. “We want them to see Mr. Christensen in his wrestling suit. It brightens a lot of faces and we see a lot of laughs from our students. Along with learning, we also want to accomplish having them have some kind of happiness and enjoyment in their day with these weird circumstances everybody is in.”
Christensen said one benefit of the online video lessons is that it engages students who may not normally be active participants in their classrooms.
“With our golfing video, the first kids to turn the videos in of them golfing were not kids that we would have expected,” he said. “Kids are engaging with us in an online format, who — when we talk to them in person — we cannot get two words out of them.”
Christensen said he has posted the video lessons outside of his and Garfield’s Google Classroom for the Central City community to see. The videos can be viewed at bit.ly/2xwNItA and bit.ly/2UNuWpF.
Christensen and Garfield plan on doing videos for the duration of the school closure due to COVID-19.
“It may end up being for the rest of the semester. If we have to do eight weeks’ worth of videos, we will do it,” Garfield said.