AP Students Adapt To Digital Saturday Sessions

Kristina DaPonte, Design Editor

Due to the ongoing restrictions concerning school events because of the pandemic, activities that concern large groups of people are unable to occur. One of these activities is the early-bird Saturday sessions Advanced Placement students partook in every few months. 

In a normal Saturday session, New Bedford High School AP students would fill buses in the early morning and travel to a neighboring high school. Students from multiple schools on the Southcoast and beyond would be placed into groups and participate in a lesson by an AP teacher from another school. Thus, sessions are characterized by students working with peers and teachers that are not their own in collaborative efforts to better understand AP exam content.

This school year, sessions took place on the digital screen. Students from various schools in Massachusetts joined the Zoom meetings of AP teachers and learned AP content from the comfort of their own homes. 

Destiny Misay, a junior who participated in the AP Calculus AB and AP Language and Composition digital sessions, felt as though the modified sessions caused her to have a lack of focus and engagement pertaining to the content. 

“I prefer in-person sessions because I’m a visual learner”, Misay said. “I’m less focused when I’m at home because there are a number of things around my house that easily distract me.”

In more hands-on classes, such as AP Environmental Science or AP Biology, these digital sessions can be somewhat difficult. Without a lab assignment or experiment to perform, learning some of the content can become challenging. 

“I definitely felt less engaged in the session because digitally, it is just students listening to teachers talk about content instead of experiencing it more excitedly in person,” senior Brandi Chenard said about her AP Biology session.

“In-person sessions are definitely more interactive and collaboration-oriented, which is helpful in science courses,” Maryanne Pedro, also a senior in the AP Biology session, said.

Despite the circumstances of these sessions, students tried to find the bright side. Instead of focusing on their distaste for the sessions, students shared some empathy for the teachers. Even through Zoom, a platform where students often leave their cameras off, teachers were trying the best they could to keep learning interactive and interesting, Misay said.

Brandi Chenard discussed how one of her biology teachers put together a small investigation for students to collaborate and work together on. “I think it comes down to finding different techniques to teach the information in ways that keep the students engaged,” she said.