COVID Changes the Classroom

Are students gaining any information from testing this school year?


Photo by Maddie Ellis

Vocabulary roots on a whiteboard in Mrs. Healy’s room.

COVID-19 has brought a large amount of changes and regulations into all sorts of aspects of life. From stores, to sports, to schooling, the pandemic has brought change to pretty much everything in the world. For instance, regular, daily activities have become increasingly different, as many individuals choose to stay at home and virtually participate. 

With students choosing to remain at home during these times, lesson plans, quizzes, and standardized tests have also endured many changes. With teachers concerned about the fairness of having groups of students in the classroom and groups at home, there have been many schooling practices that have had to change. 

While in most courses, arrangements have had to be made, English definitely stands out as one that was hit the hardest. Group projects have been reassembled or even cut out of the curriculum completely. This aspect especially affects students, since group projects are extremely beneficial for classmates. Helping students gain more confidence, allowing them to learn to work with their peers, and assisting with time and work management skills, group projects have many benefits that many students have to miss out on this year. In 11th grade specifically, graded discussions had to be cut out since it was impossible for every student to be able to participate. 

Not only have group projects been cut down, but the forms of work have also been altered. With students being online and the risk of students or teachers being quarantined, more and more work has been changed from paper to digital. Lise Wagner, Honors English and ESLA teacher at ENHS, said she tries “to make quizzes as digital as possible.”

One of the main aspects of the altered English courses this year is the vocabulary quizzes. With some students being remote, it is impossible for teachers to control the use of notes. Worrying about making learning and testing fair for all students, teachers, in English especially, have had to make tough decisions, such as making some tests open note for all students. Although some quizzes and tests are open note, these tests have also had to be altered in order to make them more difficult. Wagner said, “(the quiz) for remote students is a different quiz but open notes”. 

Theresa Huber, an ENHS English 11 and AP Lang teacher, believes the changes to the classroom have been mostly negative. Huber said, “the students are not learning the words probably as well.” Due to being unable to quiz on past words and focusing less on the roots, some teachers believe that students are not gaining as much information. Roots, which according to Huber are “what really help (a person) figure out difficult words,” are not tested over as much this year, especially in 11th grade. 

On the other hand, Amy Hurley, English 10, English 11, and ESLA 10 teacher at ENHS, believes the change in vocab quizzes has been positive since “students are having to use the words rather than just memorize the definitions.”  

When students have the option to use notes on vocabulary quizzes, it can make it a lot easier to get a good grade, but it may be a less effective way to learn the words. Huber said, “people will memorize things and forget it immediately after they take the quiz.” 

Although using notes on tests can lead to the belief that less information is obtained, Huber disagrees. She said, “using notes on a more complicated task isn’t necessarily bad.”

Though classes have changed drastically this year and many different things have had to be altered, such as group projects, vocabulary quizzes, speeches, and discussions, English teachers have tried their best to make every student learn to their best ability. “People’s vocabularies have diminished in a lot of ways, so a vocabulary quiz at least allows us to do some work with learning words, because it’s important,” Huber said.