Distance learning provides unique challenges for AP Calculus BC

Live videostream program allows Mill Valley and De Soto High School students to take AP Calculus BC

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By Bailey Wagoner

Math teacher Brian Rodkey uses a web cam to broadcast his notes to both students in his classroom and to students at DHS.

Chris Sprenger, JagWire reporter

The students in AP Calculus BC have faced challenges different from those in  other math courses because the class is a combination of both Mill Valley and De Soto High School students.

The students from DHS participate in the class via a video link that is broadcasted from the Mill Valley classroom by math teacher Brian Rodkey using a video conferencing app called Zoom. Recently, the DHS students have started coming to Mill Valley once a week because of trouble communicating between the schools.

De Soto juniors Elizabeth Seidl, Cody Moose and Zach Deibert listen attentively to Mill Valley math teacher, Brian Rodkey via Zoom on Wednesday Oct. 12.

By Marah Shulda
De Soto juniors Elizabeth Seidl, Cody Moose and Zach Deibert listen attentively to Mill Valley math teacher, Brian Rodkey via Zoom on Wednesday Oct. 12.

According to Rodkey, the class is combined between the two schools because there are not enough students from each school for them to have their own separate classrooms.

“I think it was decided that wherever the most students were, that’s where it would be taught from,” Rodkey said. “We have 11 Mill Valley students taking the class and only three [from] DHS.”

The structure of the class is similar to that of a normal math classroom for Mill Valley students, such as senior Camden Davis.

For the students at DHS, however, the difficulty of connecting with Rodkey’s class via video cameras and screen sharing makes it more complicated.

“We do a sort of FaceTime thing where we have a camera pointed at our classroom and Rodkey has a camera to show the work he is doing on his desk,” Davis said. “It’s basically like a Skype call over to the DHS kids.”

DHS junior Elizabeth Seidl and her classmates have a harder time learning over a video link because they can not directly speak with Rodkey face to face.

“It’s hard to have conversations with Rodkey if you’re confused, and it’s hard to show him something that you are having difficulty with,” Seidl said.

Despite these difficulties, Mill Valley senior Jazz Loffredo thinks that the system is helpful to everyone in the class.

“We can interact with him from our houses if we log onto the program,” Loffredo said. “Say we are sick one day, you can still log in and watch his lectures.”

Mill Valley students work on assignments while math teacher Brian Rodkey's notes are displayed on a screen.

By Bailey Wagoner
Mill Valley students work on assignments while math teacher Brian Rodkey’s notes are displayed on a screen.

Rodkey believes that combining the classes has been beneficial to students from both schools.

“One of the great things about the video link is it does allow those students to take the class when otherwise they wouldn’t be able to,” Rodkey said. “Having the class over the video link and having that option gives more students the opportunity to take the class.”

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