The COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying stay-home directives forced colleges like ours to shift to remote instruction for the spring semester. But creative Carthage faculty members have turned that lemon into some ultra-refreshing lemonade.

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Carthage faculty change course to adapt classrooms during pandemic

June 17, 2020

Unusual times offer unusual opportunities.

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying stay-home directives forced colleges like ours to shift to remote instruction for the spring semester. But creative Carthage faculty members and their students turned that lemon into some ultra-refreshing lemonade.

Special guests

Know who else was cooped up at home, thirsting for human interaction (even the virtual kind)? In many cases, top professionals in the field, as professors quickly realized. A variety of guests visited with Carthage classes via video chat, including these:

Graphic Design Senior Seminar (Professor Laura Rodman Huaracha)

  • Michael Bierut, a partner in the New York office of Pentagram design firm

    Prominent designer Michael Bierut met virtually with students in the Graphic Design Senior Semina...Prominent designer Michael Bierut met virtually with students in the Graphic Design Senior Seminar on March 27.

Sports Media (Professor Jon Bruning)

  • Daniel Orlando Diaz ’11, director of World Cup and Olympic partnerships at NBCUniversal
  • Nick Cottrell ’16, an account executive for group sales and events with the Chicago Fire
  • Matt Thome ’17, an account manager for premium sales and hospitality with the Sacramento Kings
  • Zac Palissard ’15, an account manager for premium sales with the Miami Dolphins
  • Holly Weber ’14, graphic designer for University of Missouri Athletics
  • Jen Rader ’11, marketing and media manager for the Utah Youth Soccer Association

Money and Banking (Professor Cassie Lau

  • Shadia Museitif, mortgage advisor from Finance of America
  • Brett Davis, vice president for New Holland North America at CNH Industrial

Space Biology (Professor Andrea Henle)

  • Martha Vitaterna, research professor at Northwestern University
  • Richard Barker, researcher in the Gilroy Life Science Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Camilla Urbaniak, scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab
  • Joseph Tash, emeritus professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center

Theatre courses (Professor John Maclay)

  • Betsy Brandt, actor in “Breaking Bad” and “Life in Pieces”
  • Jeremy Tardy, actor in “Whiskey 66,” “Dear White People,” and “Ballers”
  • David Caparelliotis, Broadway and television casting director
  • Tyne Rafaeli, nationally known stage director
  • Robert Quinlan, nationally known Shakespeare director
  • Joe Foust and Alyssa Thordarson, actors

Field work

Many field agencies closed during Wisconsin’s “Safer At Home” directive, sending senior social work majors scrambling for alternate options to meet the 400-hour clinical minimum. (Carthage made a one-time exception to its higher threshold of 450 hours.)

They huddled with professors Becki Hornung and Debbie Minsky-Kelly to brainstorm Plan B and, in some cases, Plan C. Six of them started a Facebook group, Carthage Connects, to help their peers through a tough period and gain clinical hours at the same time. About 150 students joined.

That still left A.J. Gouriotis ’20 short. So he helped a niche professional association, the Alliance of Social Workers in Sports, to shape its upcoming virtual conference.

Although the elementary school where she was placed had to close, Kylee Straka ’20 participated in the school’s meal pick-up program for the remainder of the school year. Drawing on experience as the manager of a fast food restaurant, she served families with efficiency and compassion.

Creative teaching

Urban Teacher Preparation Program manager Siovahn Williams reports that teacher candidates and coaches collaborated on creative ways to deliver instruction. The candidates recorded virtual lesson plans and activities in all content areas that students could access remotely and met frequently with students and parents via videoconference.

Cassandra Millard ’20, a student in the Urban Teacher Preparation Program, reads from a childre...Cassandra Millard ’20, a student in the Urban Teacher Preparation Program, reads from a children's book during a YouTube video lesson in spring 2020.

Working with Professor Jacqueline Easley, art education student Ellie Moore ’21 created several videos of herself teaching lessons for fifth-graders at a local elementary school. Her cooperating teacher posted them for the students to view and use to create art at home.

Students in the Effectively Teaching Mathematics in the Elementary/Middle School course (taught by Professor Steven Rogg) developed microteaching by video for use in remote instruction. For their capstone project, those in that class and Effectively Teaching Science in the Elementary/Middle School created a portfolio and toolkit to prepare for student teaching and beyond.

Since they didn’t get to observe teachers at local schools or interview them during the semester, Professor Karin Sconzert connected middle and secondary education majors in her class (Fostering Engagement and Positive Behavior in the Classroom) to recent Carthage alumni who teach in their subject areas. The aspiring educators put the advice to use while creating “My Classroom” websites for their final projects.

Language exchange

Students in Professor Matt Borden’s advanced Spanish courses sharpened their conversational and cultural fluency in Zoom sessions with native speakers.

Prof. Borden arranged the “intercambio” between his students and peers who are learning English at Tandem, a Madrid-based language academy. Carthage has partnered with Tandem in the past to put on programs during J-Term study tours in Spain.

The exchange went beyond vocabulary. During one session, the Carthage contingent and the native Spanish speakers swapped visual examples of favorite foods from their kitchens.

“The human component of what we’re all going through right now is this emotional comfort of seeing other people around the world,” said Prof. Borden, who hopes some of the new acquaintances can connect in person on a future study tour.

Intercambio with Prof. Borden's Spanish classIntercambio with Prof. Borden's Spanish class

Makeup assignment

To keep Professor Kim Instenes’ Play Production II course on track, campus bookstore staff were able to ship theatrical makeup kits directly to students’ homes.

When the wide-ranging class reached a section on makeup, Prof. Instenes demonstrated (via Zoom) how to apply it — using her daughter as the model. Kits in hand, theatre students headed to their respective bathrooms to replicate her technique and receive live feedback.

Prof. Instenes demonstrated (via Zoom) how to apply theatre makeupProf. Instenes demonstrated (via Zoom) how to apply theatre makeup

Electronic portfolio

In lieu of a final exam, Professor J.J. Shields’ marketing students created something more practical: an e-portfolio to showcase their qualifications in the job search.

For years, he has required students to compile a professional portfolio containing paper samples of their work that make a strong impression in job interviews. But Prof. Shields wanted to give them a tool that would help them to get hiring managers’ attention up front.

The quarantine freed up time for him to create a template with detailed instructions using no-code Notion software.

Musical premiere

Layering their instrumental parts in the Acapella app, Professor James Ripley and 10 members of student ensemble AMATI produced a video premiere of “Talitha Cumi” by composer Sydney Kjerstad. The commissioned work is the last of three commemorating 150 Years of Carthage Women, a yearlong celebration that runs through October.

Virtual study tour

The creativity flowed right into the summer term. Although it’s primarily designed for adult students, the session’s heavy online component drew traditional students as well.

Unable to travel to Germany and Austria as scheduled during J-Term, 22 students settled for a virtual study tour in June. At least a couple of the students needed those credits to graduate.

Professors Greg Baer and Temple Burling simulated much of the itinerary with video walking tours and Zoom chats with residents.