October 30, 2020

siebmia week_8

      Dynarski’s article Online Courses Are Harming the Students Who Need the Most Help examines the contexts in which online courses are successful–and those in which they aren’t. Online courses can be effective and rewarding, just not to all students. The three most important factors in fostering an effective online education are application, flexibility, and community. 

      Our transition to online learning over the spring was unexpected, so our struggle was understandable. One thing I found successful was when projects were turned to students to decide what they wanted to do further research on. I often find myself unmotivated when content isn’t relevant, applying coursework to my own interests makes learning more exciting. While learning new things during a crazy time can be a good distraction, it can also lead to more stress in students’ personal lives. Flexibility in coursework and applying learning to the present day encourages student engagement. Overall, I found that community was one of the biggest missing pieces during our transition to online school. 

      This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Outer Coast Summer Seminar which took place over Zoom. At first, I was skeptical about how such an immersive program could be effective virtually and even pondered withdrawing from the program. However, the Summer Seminar ended up being one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had, it completely changed my views on online learning. Part of what made the experience so fulfilling was the community we created, although hundreds of miles apart in six different states. This can be attributed to the common interests we shared and our appetite for learning, and the commitment we had to each other. Outside of class the Student Body hosted community nights where we told stories, held poetry workshops, played games, had sometimes awkward (yet enjoyable) breakout room conversations. Knowing my professors, fellow students, and advisors on a personal level allowed me to have fun and dig deeper during class. Looking back, I recognize how Outer Coasts powered me through a rough time and made me a stronger person. I never anticipated that connecting with people over Zoom could be such a powerful experience. The 2020 Outer Coasts Summer Seminar is a testament to the idea that self-motivated individuals can have highly rewarding educational experiences online and don’t need to just “rough it out”.



October 30, 2020


Week 8: Online Courses

As it was pointed out in the New York Times article “Online Courses Are Harming the Students who Need the Most Help” everyone’s experience with online learning is different. In the past I have taken online courses that would be categorized as “fully online” and for the most part felt as if I was’t learning and I also seemed to be more stressed by these no-teacher classes. This year, however, we all got to experience online courses in a different way that in my opinion was better but still not as effective as in-person learning. From the time spent on google meets last Spring and at the beginning of this school year the biggest challenged I faced was not feeling as much of a drive to learn. Keeping classes interesting during distance learning is something I think most of the world was or is struggling with. It requires teachers and students to put in more effort and be creative which is even more difficult when our lives have been taken over by the stress and fear of a pandemic. Still, my own experiences with online learning have been much better than so many others.

The New York Times article’s main focus was how online learning is extremely harmful to those who need the extra help that they would get with an in-person teacher. So, the second most important thing to consider with distance learning is the variety of ways students learn and do their best. While some may thrive in a self-paced online class, other students may find it difficult to teach themselves the material without the assistance of a teacher. This could pose an even bigger problem during a global crisis when a lot of people are feeling glum and less motivated already. Another issue the article brought up was how taking online courses runs the risk of getting an easy pass but not really retaining the information. This leads to being poorly prepared for applying the content in the future. As online learning continues to develop I think three main things to be considered are how to keep classes engaging, the variety in student learning abilities, and proper preparation for future use of the studies being taught.

October 30, 2020


During my time at the end of last school year and the beginning of this year, I had to participate in online schooling. In my opinion, it wasn’t awful but it definitely had its flaws. Similarly to what the article says it was hard for me and many other students to find the motivation to actually do anything, other than wait for assignments to be due and then rush through them last minute, of course it’s not like I didn’t procrastinate before online school started but it definitely didn’t help my situation in the slightest. Another thing that I struggled with was understanding assignments and instruction due to connection problems or just lack of time in the classroom. Finally, I think the environment that was given off by online classrooms just encouraged a lack of focus, for example, kids would be eating, in bed, not have their camera on, or doing other things while they were in class and this behavior just gave the whole experience a sense of unimportance. 

In order to combat these issues and have a full-time online school I think the school will have to make a few key adjustments to the system. First of all, I think the school needs to come up with a way in which students or parents can schedule online meetings with teachers that are teaching classes that students are struggling with. These meetings are necessary to give students the 1-on-1 time with teachers they lack when they are in an online school environment. Secondly, I think stricter rules need to be put in place for students to follow in order to maintain a sense of order in the classroom. Some beginning steps would be requiring students to have their camera on, not allowing eating in online classes, and requiring students to not be in their beds. Lastly, I believe making classes longer would allow teachers to fully explain projects and assignments and also give students time to ask questions if they need to.


October 30, 2020

Reyegra_Week 8

I was not expecting to finish my junior year of high school online, staying safely inside my house during a global pandemic. In my experience, I noticed that there are specific classes that are manageable to do online, and there are other classes that are meant to be taught in person. Classes that I especially struggled with during online schooling were algebra and physics. Classes that were manageable for me were english and history. However, there are classes that are manageable to do online, but it is much better for it to be taught in person; like choir, drama, and spanish. I have noticed that the classes that I most struggle with are the ones that are so used to being taught efficiently through a whiteboard with textbooks, sitting behind a desk with the teacher teaching us about shortcuts instead of what the book says. It’s not very ideal when we are given a website that can try to help us with the lesson and to read our text books alone, trying to solve problems by what the book says. Classes that were manageable for me were the ones that had to do with reading, writing, typing, and with the majority of the homework being online. However, the classes that are more reliant on communication in person, like choir, drama, and spanish, it’s more ideal for it to be taught in person than online.

I agree with what the article says about students who are struggling in school will have a harder time with online schooling because it requires a lot of self motivation, self regulation, and organization. People who struggle in school are also struggling with these three components, and the most efficient way for helping these problems is teaching in person. Even student’s who are doing well in school sometimes struggle with self motivation, self regulation, and organization. Three factors that our school district should address regarding online schooling is providing extra help for students who struggle in school, avoid giving out assignments online without thoroughly teaching the lesson, and set a manageable amount of homework with a reasonable deadline. I think these three factors are most important because it encourages students to feel like having an education online is achievable. 

October 30, 2020

dundjtre Week 8

Starting last year with the introduction of online school because of the coronavirus we have had to face challenges that no students have had to face before. For some people the switch to online school was not ideal but it was manageable based on the situation. As stated in the article, “For advanced learners, online classes are a terrific option, but academically challenged students need a classroom with a teacher’s support.” Online classes allow advanced students to excel because they can continue to learn even when they can’t attend school but for less advanced students require the assistance of teachers to learn. They are not able to learn independently as well as the advanced students and therefore their education suffers. Face to face lessons from teachers allow better explanation of the material which is crucial for less advanced students to gain an understanding of the material being taught. One of the most important factors of online school is that without a teacher it becomes far more difficult because learning must be done independently with most instructions being written. The more advanced students are better suited to taking online classes if needed because, “After all, taking a class without a teacher requires high levels of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization.” These are the characteristics needed to perform well in online school and are more prevalent in the advanced students because they allow them to already be successful in school. Another factor of online school that needs to be addressed is these skills of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization allow students to complete their work without reminders from teachers. On the other hand, online classes can be far easier to pass and don’t require the students to learn anything when they have access to the internet and, “In reality, students who complete these courses tend to do quite poorly on subsequent tests of academic knowledge.” Students are able to pass classes with higher grades than they would normally achieve because the classes are less extensive online. Important factors that need to be addressed for students to succeed in online school is having a way for students to ask the teacher questions, keep students motivated and on task, and make sure online classed are actually teaching students.

October 30, 2020

Jack Harris – ToTW 8

Even though online classes have been around for years, they are still quite new to the world. This would lead to online classes being a very unknown territory for everybody. So when the Covid pandemic came around and social distancing was on the rise, the only way to teach students on a massive scale at the time was through online learning. This would prove messy and difficult to do on such short notice, as it has never been done before in the history of the world. According to the article, students who participated in online classes learned much less than in a real class.  For myself, I can say that they could be improved by making it more interactive instead of the whole class doing a lot of talking.  In addition, being in small groups working on an assignment could also make people more motivated to do work.  My online classes were boring because it was a lot of orders instead of improving.  We students would get told to do an assignment, do the assignment, and go back to class to do it again.  I felt unprepared for the new style of teaching being thrown my way. As my school life was completely different from what I usually did throughout my life during the school year. This is what I believe the problems schools should address when dealing with online classes. If that happened I believe online learning would have a major improvement compared to itself from a year ago.

October 30, 2020


There are numerous factors that play a role in the negative experience of online classes, and lots to take into account when designing an online system for students to use, especially now when seeing teachers and staff members in person could completely end at any moment. One of the main factors that needs to be addressed is that not everyone has a supportive family that will help them with school or provide them with accountability and motivation. Without people pushing you to do the best you can, or supporting your efforts in school, you can slip into a place where you don’t want to or can’t keep up with the school work, or even attending classes. Teachers and other staff members often offer that support when students are in school: they motivate students, hold them accountable for assignments and attendance, and offer emotional support as well. Our school district should find a way to address this, whether it be through more individual online meetings one on one with students, or another method.  

Another issue that the NY Times article addresses is what kind of student it takes to succeed in an online class. The article states, that “taking a class without a teacher requires high levels of self-motivation, self-regulation and organization.” From my experience, this is true. Although you have a teacher, it’s not the same as seeing them and being in a school environment. It certainly takes a lot to keep yourself motivated and on top of things, which is something that even the most dedicated students can’t do sometimes. Our school district should work on addressing this with online school: although it’s a personal thing that varies person by person, it is one of the biggest issues with online learning. 

The third major challenge with online classes is the lack of accountability as far as academic integrity goes. With online classes, online assignments, and online tests, cheating is probably at a high. It’s easy to cheat yourself on schoolwork, and students don’t realize the detrimental effect this has on themselves and their futures. Although there are many challenges to overcome with online school, if it needs to be done students and teachers have the ability to work together to make a productive environment. 

October 25, 2020


An issue I would like to discuss is gay rights. As someone who lives with an active member of the LGBTQ+ community, I feel obliged to share my experiences on the issue, in hopes that anyone gains new insight and sees the issue from another perspective. The gay rights movement has played a major part in shaping the world we live in. It opened up the possibility to marry someone of the same sex, and gave members of the LGBTQ+ community a chance to voice their opinions and express themselves. We are so grateful to have a generation that is so tolerant of people who want to express themselves.

I found an article that centers around a conservative evangelical Christian couple and their son, Peter. They put him through conversion therapy because they thought that his being gay was a sin. The conversion therapy failed, but their beliefs changed ever since they started meeting Peter’s friends from his church youth group and inviting other gay Christians to dinner. Their minds opened up and they became supporters of the LGBTQ+ community. Back when the Stonewall riots occurred, people started to change their minds and fight for gay rights. Almost a decade later, Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist, encouraged every gay person to come out. Many years passed, and more gay people started appearing in popular culture. As a result, people’s attitudes toward them changed. It is crucial to understand the importance of gay rights, because, as everyone feels comfortable in their own skin, we should be mindful of how they feel.

October 25, 2020


Supporting the Arts

Link to article: https://kinder.rice.edu/urbanedge/2020/06/18/essential-role-art-has-been-exhibited-during-covid-19-shutdowns

Link to information about grant application: https://www.facebook.com/events/665226177501740/

Link to BLOODYVOX for anyone interested: http://www.bodyvox.com/performance/bloodyvox-lockdown

Art has proved to be an essential part of many people’s lives and an outlet for self-expression and connections.  Throughout the Covid-19 crisis art has been something that continues to bring people together and share information and ideas despite the closings of many theaters, museums, galleries, etc. It is crucial that we make sure to continue to support all art forms in any way we can. Kenn McLaughlin, executive director of Stages, says, “And through this virus pandemic we’ve seen more examples of how everyday folks and professional artists alike need to express themselves to others to combat loneliness and depression. Art nurtures the spirit and calms the mind.” Even if it doesn’t seem to be something that affects you personally, a world without art would be a much darker and lonelier place.

How we are able to view performances, exhibits, and other forms of expression is much different now, but still powerful and entertaining. For example, a dance group that came to Cordova a couple years ago, BodyVox, has created a virtual performance called BLOODYVOX. It is Halloween themed and is inspired by Rocky Horror Picture Show, Moulin Rouge, The Blair Witch Project, and Chicago. With just a bit of research you can come across endless possibilities for supporting and enjoying the arts despite our distance. Here in Cordova there are many young artists who may have been affected by the sudden shut down of the arts. Cordova Arts and Pageants has received a grant which will allow artists 18 and up to apply to receive money and share their work, whether that be visual, performing, literary, media, or others.

Keeping the arts alive through even the strangest and unprecedented times will help us all stay sane and connected. Gary Tinterow, director of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, points out another way art impacts our world: “Art invites curiosity, develops perspective, and with that comes tolerance of diversity and difference.” We must continue to find ways to use art as a tool for good in our world.

October 25, 2020


As we all know, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 was a major environmental catastrophe. To put it into perspective of how bad it was: it killed approximately 250,000 birds, 3,000 otters, 300 seals, 250 eagles, and 22 killer whales. There were 260,000 barrels on the vessel holding around 11 million gallons of crude oil total. That being said, there is currently a Venezuelan vessel that has been parked in the Gulf of Paria for about two years. It is holding 1.3 million barrels with around 80 million galls of crude oil, making it just about five times the amount of the Exxon Valdez. Recently, even though anchored down, fisherman have noticed that it is starting to tilt over and is soon to be seen completely submerged in the water resulting in a major oil spill. The officials of Trinidad and Tobago have recently said that the vessel poses “no risk” of spilling, but most say that is far from the truth.

This potential environmental catastrophe has barely been covered by the news anywhere in the world, including Venezuela. Although this may not directly affect my peers and I, it does come to show how news coverage tends to focus more on what Trump said/didn’t say or what Biden said/didn’t say, which sure may be important because there is an election coming up. It is also causing us to turn a blind eye to significant events going on in the world, and although there has been no oil spill yet, getting the public aware of it and pushing for change may prevent it overall. Knowing how largely the Exxon oil spill effected our home and others around us, and now knowing of the same thing (but 5x larger) potentially happening somewhere else, should make us not only feel worried but also want us to make others aware so that we can attempt to keep it from happening.


Lewis, S. (2020, October 22). A Venezuelan vessel carrying 1.3 million barrels of oil is tilting – and it could lead to a catastrophic oil spill. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/venezuela-oil-tanker-nabarima-tilting-spill-feared/

October 25, 2020

Reyegra_Week 7


Brooklyn Botanic Garden Turns Over a New Leaf is an article I chose from The New York Times. The garden was shut down during the pandemic, but now they have reopened for the public to visit and to enjoy it’s vibrant, calming nature(especially during fall season). I picked this article because it was different from the majority of news articles we hear today. It’s a break from the chaos and a chance to take a breath and enjoy something beautiful and relaxing. And it’s not just a break from the chaos of 2020, it’s also a break for those with a noisy mind and stressful weekends. One visitor said, “The garden slows you down.” It slows down the madness of the world and the busy thoughts, taking the time to appreciate the art even for brief moments. We are also used to seeing wildfires around the world burning acres upon acres of land, and our coral reefs being destroyed due to climate change. Walking through a thriving garden like the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, reminds us that there are still places full of nature for us to appreciate.

 The imagery the article shows when writing about the garden is also something I admire, “…Hemmed in by wilder, shaggy clouds of vegetation in contrasting textures and hues… Younger trees turning pale yellow stand out against the still-green backdrop of mature trees.” It makes the audience feel like they are walking through the garden and makes them want to visit. The article also touches on how they have trees and plants from Asia, Japan, and China. I like how they have plants and trees from different parts of the world together in one big garden. It shares the uniqueness of each place and how beautiful it is when joined together. 

October 25, 2020

Hambame _Week 7



I chose an news article about mental health programs in New Jersey because, during this time especially, it has been hard for teenagers and many are struggling with mental health issues and need someone to talk to. In the article it is explained that there are major budget cuts in New Jersey and one of the things that they are cutting is the School Based Youth Services Program (SBYSP). This program gives many students a safe place and someone to turn to with their problems. The program provides therapists, hotlines, and other services for students in need of help and the program has been referred to as a second home for some of them. SBYSP operates in 100 of the nearly 500 schools and serves an estimate of 25,000 to 30,000 students. New Jersey residents are fighting to keep this program alive for the sake of their children and families. I believe that programs such as this are needed at this time where kids are suffering and struggling to adjust to everything that has happened in the past year. Some have struggled more than others and we need to have someone to vent to or help us solve other issues in our lives. The article mentions this 12 year old kid Trevor, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is high functioning on the autism spectrum. He has difficulties in school and doesn’t have any friends, but seeing a therapist through the SBYSP has helped him with all that. Mental health is vastly important and should not be an item to drop off the list due to budget cuts.

October 25, 2020

siebmia week_7

“When it comes to the suppression of Black votes, it’s the 19th century all over again” 



        According to the Sentencing Project, a non-partisan organization working for criminal justice reform, nearly 5.2 million Americans cannot vote in the 2020 presidential election because they have been convicted of felonies. This number is down from the 2016 presidential election when 6.2 million people were barred from voting. The United States has the largest incarcerated population in the entire world, and this isn’t an accident. After Jim Crow laws were dismantled and the times of segregation were over, segregationists switched their focus to a “crackdown on drugs and crime”. With racially sanitized language, legislators who voted against civil rights policies began to design the crime legislation that we see today. 

       Felons face the same forms of discrimination that black people faced before Jim Crow, discrimination in employment, housing, education, and other public benefits. Once labeled a felon, you can no longer vote in several states, sometimes indefinitely. The “War on Drugs” and movement for a crackdown on crime have led to policies that target communities of color, such as mandatory minimum sentencing and the Three-strikes Law. Although crime rates are similar between whites and nonwhites, Black men and Hispanic men are disproportionately incarcerated. As Michelle Alexander puts it, “We have not ended the racial caste system in America, we have merely resigned it.” We have to understand the history of discrimination and voter disenfranchisement to realize how it manifests in the United States today.

       With the election looming ominously over our heads, it’s important to keep a realistic view of American “democracy” in our minds. Do we really have a democracy if 5.2 million American’s are unable to vote?

October 25, 2020

dundjtre Week 7

Here is the link to the article I read.

Social media has become very popular during the pandemic because it allows us to stay in touch with people without having putting ourselves or others at risk. Two artists in Mexico City took advantage that people are spending more time on social media to advertise delicious food they had began baking during the lockdown in a $42 toaster oven. It began with just a few friends requesting food and then quickly expanded in popularity as people saw the amazing food they posted on their Instagram account that anyone could get if they had a few bucks. What had started in a small toaster oven as a means to cure boredom has become a profitable business during a time when they couldn’t work their regular jobs.

These two artists are the perfect example of finding a way to thrive instead of complaining about the changes they have had to go though because of the coronavirus. They didn’t complain about not being able to work their jobs and found another way to support themselves by using the changes wrought by the pandemic in their favor. The lesson that everyone can learn because we are all facing challenges is that the wisest people coming out of this pandemic are going to be the people who worked with the circumstances they were given and found a way to succeed in their efforts. During volleyball it was mentioned after we were told masks were to be worn at all times including during conditioning that we should be appreciative that we were even allowed in the gym at all and I heavily agree with that statement.

October 25, 2020


Why the Government Is Suing Google, (No Link to Exact Article)https://static.nytimes.com/email-content/OT_sample.html


On Tuesday the 20th of October the Justice Department decided to take legal action against Google. They are suing the company for illegally maintaining a monopoly on search traffic and search advertising. In what some are calling the government’s boldest challenge to Big Tech in a generation. This legal case will likely be loud, confusing, and go on for many years but at least it has started. Many people are calling it a long-overdue step in restoring competition online. The legal action of the Justice Department has been widely praised by democrats and republicans alike and some states even plan to file separate lawsuits against Google in the near future as well. If the Justice Department succeeds in their lawsuit against Google this could result in a massive change in the way we do schoolwork and use the internet in general. Things like Google classroom and other applications we use on a daily basis would be shut down completely. Google has objected to the Justice Department’s suit, calling it “deeply flawed.” But in the eyes of lawmakers on both sides and economists, this is a step in the right direction to eliminating behavior that holds back competition that could make better products for everyone. Not only in America but all over the world Google is the main web browser on most people’s electronic devices and this is no coincidence. Every year Google pays Apple billions of dollars each year to make sure its search engine is the one that people encounter on their iPhones and in the Safari web browser. Along with this Google also has contracts with phone companies that require them to include Google apps on smartphones and make its search practically inescapable. People have known for years that Google has been the dominating online search engine for years with no other companies even close to competing with them, so many people although happy that action is finally being taken are angered that it hasn’t happened sooner.