Adapting to Distance Learning: The New Digital Reality

Students and their Resiliency

2020, a year riddled with unexpected twists and turns. A year where anyone who could be at home was at home. People complained. People adapted. Just like for many adults, kids also experienced 2020’s unpredictability. However, unlike adults, they had less control over their 2020 situation. The school was now distance learning. Classrooms were now on Google Meets or Zoom. Desks, now replaced with little tiny squares on a screen. And yet, the students are patient, willing, waiting to learn, to be taught.

The significant part about youth is their incredible ability to adapt and their resiliency. Students are probably more mature than they were one year ago. Their growth was stemming from the push into the uglies and struggles of the world. When the teacher loses their connection, the students patiently wait until the teacher is back. The students speak up (or type in the chat) to ask questions. They show up every morning. So, here they are. Learning online and seeking a connection that is less internet and more interpersonal. How do we teach our classes to educate, engage, and interact with them?

Adapting to the Digital World

Teaching 100% online is a big task. However, it does not mean that teachers need to reinvent the wheel. When teaching, the goals are to 1. Educate, 2. Engage, and 3. Interact. These goals do not change just because school is online. Adapting the lessons that have been previously done to the online setting is the first step. Below, the lessons highlight each of the goals in the online and digital space.

In Sailing Through the History of Hawai’i, the lesson covers the U.S. annexation of Hawai’i. The lesson is geared with the intent to educate the students about U.S. expansionism and imperialism. The lesson allows the students to engage in how Hawai’i became a state of the United States by first having students watch a video and then receiving a lecture regarding the topic. Then, the students will review both the video and lecture through the interactive Google Slides. The interactive Google Slides has the students focus on the three main actors during Hawai’i’s annexation: native Hawai’ians, the missionaries, and the U.S. government.

In “Tell Them About the Dream, Martin,” the lesson sought to educate the students about Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. The idea was to have students engage in historical documents to engage in the lecture’s content actively. Specifically, this lesson was geared towards the Civil Rights Movement, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr… The students will use a NearPod to read or interpret a photo. The intent is to have students critically think by interacting with different historical documents (letters, writings, photos) and assess their purpose and what it means to the time period.

Lastly, in Extra, Extra: Read All About It!, the lesson focused on allowing the students to engage and interact with the content. When the students can interact with the material, they are more likely to conceptualize the content. This assignment geared to have the students create a Newspaper that included 4+ articles regarding the United States’ policy of neutrality during World War II and its subsequent entrance to World War II. The assignment blended creativity and synthesis. The students used the given photos (based on the topic) and wrote about what they had learned. Allowing the students to manipulate the content and material through their own words supports the students’ ability to synthesize and process the information to remember.

Extra, Extra: Read All About It!

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Context and Assignment:

The students partaking in a document-based assessment by creating a newspaper with four or more articles covering the U.S neutrality to World War II. This assignment would work well with any high school U.S. History course that covers World War II. The lesson will use a variety of primary sources such as newspapers, photos, and political cartoons to provide a differentiated learning experience for students.

To engage in their historical thinking, the students will engage in photos that are contextually relevant but somewhat vague. This will encourage the students to make the connections from the class lecture to create their news reports. There will be scaffolded questions to help support students on different learning levels. Students will write about the following information: U.S. neutrality, the embargo on Japan, attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan’s success, and U.S. declaration for war. For extra credit, the students will also about the Japanese-Americans who were eventually interned a few months after.

Essential Question:

I will be able to explain how the U.S. went from being neutral to entering World War II.


Students will be engaging in historical thinking by using photos, videos, and reading to develop their newspaper. This will help students develop and practice researching information and summarize texts based on their background knowledge.


Google Slides Link

Sources Links from Documents

  1. We always were suckers for ridiculous hats…
  2. Lend-Lease to Britain. English girls, members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service move armfuls of American rifles just arrived from the United States under lend-lease
  3. The Nome nugget. [volume], August 04, 1941, Image 1
  4. Confidentially… how much hell do you think these Japs will raise?
  5. NH 97398 Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
  6. SC 134872 Pearl Harbor Attack
  7. We’re Fighting to Prevent This
  8. Day of Infamy Address
  9. People leaving Buddhist church, winter, Manzanar Relocation Center, California
  10. Mess line, noon, Manzanar Relocation Center, California

Where in Portland was I allowed to live in the 1940s?

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Oregon, a beautiful state and a wonderful home, is plagued with a racist past that seems to be rarely acknowledged. Originally founded as a free state was only free because it did not allow any Black people to live there at all. Other ethnic groups such as Asian people were not all that welcome either. In 1926, the state repealed its Exclusion Law which then allowed Blacks to live in Oregon. However, White Oregonians did not want to live in mixed neighborhoods. Then, came in redlining. On the map, it shows that blue and green areas are the best places to live while the yellow and red are not.

So, let’s go back in time to 1940 where, an Asian American woman, I was allowed to somehow work on the railroads. Of course, with 2 kids, I would like to live in a good area. Giving the kids a good home with a good school was the whole point of me immigrating to the U.S. It is interesting that the green areas on the map are far from my workplace. I guess the next best thing could be this Irvington neighborhood.


Let’s see what the security map says about pros and cons:


  1. Schools
  2. Churches
  3. Recreational Areas
  4. Shopping centers
  5. Near city center


  1. Proximity to Lower Albina and the Alberta Districts. I think that’s where other Asians and Black Americans live. Why is this listed as a con?

I found a house for sale on N.E. 22nd Ave… The previous owners were tailors and stock-keepers. The neighborhood seems consistent with businessmen, white-collar workers. I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford this.

I think I found another home in the lower Albina (outlined in bolded lines).


Here are some Pros and Cons about Lower Albina from 1940:


  1. Convenience to the city center
  2. Schools
  3. Churches
  4. Recreational areas
  5. Trading centers


  1. Extremely heterogeneous population
  2. Dilapidated improvements
  3. Encroachment of business

I wonder why these cons seem so deterring for me. I guess the home is within my price range and my ability to get a loan. The previous owners held jobs such as housekeeper and cook. Though I wish I could live in the Irvington area, I guess I’ll settle for the Lower Albina area.

Back in the present-day: Based on the data from the security maps, it is easy to understand that the areas in the blue area in nicer areas, dominantly White communities. In the communities where there are people of color, the communities would progressively be less as valuable. Using the pros and cons of information from the security maps can show a better comparison of how the HOLC viewed the different parts of Portland. In the end, as an Asian-American. I would have a hard time finding a home in a good area where I would want, though I would likely want to be close to my ethnic community.

What if Hillary Clinton Won the 2016 Election?

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A big what if. With the 2020 election in the rearview mirror, we find ourselves wondering, what could have been if Hillary Clinton was president? Maybe we’re not, because that would mean reflecting on the past four years (and a lot has happened in four years).

Regardless, it should be acknowledged that the last four years could have been different if Clinton was president. Taking us through some highlights from Trump’s presidency and what might have been different under Clinton explores the changes in America gives us space to reflect. Hopefully, this serves as a snapshot of life in the U.S. the last four years could have been different had Clinton become POTUS. But again, would it have been different? Something to reflect on…