Innovating Through Crisis: Distance Learning Highlights

Despite the challenges involved in conducting school remotely, this new mode of learning also offered fascinating avenues for creativity and exploration. Teachers harnessed the power of technology to bring the key elements of a Calhoun classroom to a virtual environment, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities tailored to each age group. Again and again, Calhoun teachers found ingenious ways to incorporate project-based learning into their curriculum, tap into students’ curiosity, and ensure that the learning experience remained as challenging, fruitful and engaging as ever.

Journaling About Quarantine in Mandarin
Eighth graders put their language skills to the test by creating video quarantine journals that chronicled their time at home in Mandarin.

Ticket of immigration recreated by 5th grade student

Finding Inspiration in History
As part of their unit on immigration, fifth graders learned about the Markowitz family, who emigrated from Russia to New York City. After reading We Came Through Ellis Island: The Immigrant Adventures of Emma Markowitz, each student recreated an object from the family's story and wrote a passage explaining its significance. 

LS-E math project

Honing Math Skills
Fourth graders explored math through live virtual classes, video lessons and interactive online tools. For their final projects, students demonstrated their mathematical knowledge through the creation of instructional videos, poems, stories, music videos and homemade worksheets.

Experimenting with At-Home Science
Sixth graders learned about ocean acidification using everyday items in their kitchens. In one at-home experiment, teacher Zach Leong guided students through the process of submerging an egg in different liquids to observe how the varying pH levels eroded the shell, an illustration of how sea life is being affected by climate change.

Students in English dress up in class

Bringing Literature to Life
Students and teachers brought enthusiasm to online meetings, with some even dressing the part — like the Upper Schoolers who came to English class with a prop or costume inspired by their reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. As a homework assignment, students turned an argument between Brutus and Caesar into text messages between the two characters, using their analytical skills to create a modern adaptation of a classic tale.

Discovering the Ancient World
In World History, Upper Schoolers delved into the history of ancient Egypt through dynamic video lessons recorded by teacher Meghan Chidsey, as well as independent investigation of primary sources. To enhance their study, Meghan offered hands-on activities that could be done from home, such as a recreation of the ancient Egyptian game of Senet using simple shapes cut from paper.

Improvising in World Music
Throughout the spring, Little Calhouners enjoyed video lessons from world music teacher Mariana Iranzi and played along using instruments they made from objects in their homes.

Student recreated painting with objects from home

Creating Art With Found Objects
Middle Schoolers participated in the Getty Museum Challenge, recreating famous works of art using objects found around the home.

Students Take the Stage From Home
The Upper School cast of Chicago didn’t skip a beat after transitioning to distance learning. The class welcomed guest artists for virtual Q&A sessions and continued their rehearsals at home.

A Virtual Egg Drop
Seventh graders kept a beloved Calhoun tradition alive with a virtual interpretation of the annual Egg Drop project. After using Tinkercad software to create designs, students engineered structures from everyday materials that could safely escort an egg when dropped from a significant height. Each student filmed themselves conducting their drops from home, and the videos were livestreamed for the whole community to enjoy.

Virtual Mammal Museum
The annual first grade Mammal Museum lived on in virtual form. After conducting research on a mammal of their choice, first graders represented their findings through creative mediums such as dioramas, cloth and clay models, drawings and books. Teachers then compiled images of the projects in a video shared with the class.

Wellness Wednesday students meet over Zoom

Senior Work Goes Remote
The Senior Work program, which helps twelfth graders transition from high school to their next step, was reimagined as a remote experience. In lieu of in-person internships, each senior met virtually with a professional mentor to discuss career paths and industry trends. Seniors also participated in a rich array of programming throughout the week, including online workshops on professional and personal development, wellness activities, a faculty-led book club, and a culminating “Senior Share-Out” project and presentation.