Using History to Connect to Today’s Students
Mrs. Epps has been teaching online for five years, two of them with ALVS. She teaches a variety of middle school and high school social studies courses. She said that she especially found her passion in teaching history because it’s a subject she’s always found most interesting, and she loves that she gets to share that with her students.
When Mrs. Epps came to ALVS, she appreciated the flexibility of being able to teach no matter what her location was geographically. Through ALVS, she has the opportunity to teach excited and engaged students online and is able to build better relationships with them.
Another reason Mrs. Epps loves teaching with ALVS is the way the courses are designed.
“Once students understand what resources are there and how to use them, the courses are really laid out beautifully, and the supports are there,” she said.
Mrs. Epps also mentioned that the practice assignments for students to do throughout the lessons are a great tool to prepare them for the summative assessments or unit exams.
When asked what her favorite aspect of an ALVS course is, Mrs. Epps said that the discussion boards are, hands down. When students respond to different prompts, she is able to really see what the students are thinking about with different topics and get their own personal touch on each concept. One assignment in particular asked students to pick a song and describe how it relates to a social movement in history.
“It’s really interesting to see what songs they choose and how they relate that back to the concept,” she said. This assignment helped her connect with her students through music and see how they make links with current events and historical topics.
Something special about virtual learning that Mrs. Epps did not expect was the connection she would make with her virtual students and, in turn, her appreciation for their interesting backgrounds. Some of her full-time and part-time students have unique hobbies and lifestyles outside of school. Many are student-athletes playing sports such as hockey and basketball, and some students even run triathlons in the Caribbean islands.
“As teachers, sometimes we fall into the mindset that education is so fundamentally important, and obviously, it is, but when you see what’s going on in some of these kids’ lives, they need their education to be flexible around these other opportunities so they can hone in on these great skills they have as individuals,” reported Mrs. Epps. “It kind of makes you step back and look at education differently.”
Her advice for new students and families is to take some time at the beginning of each course to understand the layout and use all the resources and supports that are offered. Also, she recommends using a calendar to keep up with due dates.
Mrs. Epps says that not everybody loves all aspects of history, but she enjoys exposing her students to a surface-level overview of all topics. From there, students can take a deep dive into the concepts or periods of history they personally find most interesting.
When she is not busy being an amazing teacher with ALVS, Mrs. Epps enjoys exploring her town of Charleston, South Carolina; frequenting the outdoors and staying active; spending time with her two fur babies; and cooking.