Our Knowledge Bowl electives online have shown that student engagement need not be a challenge in distance learning. A group of talented students has been coming together every Wednesday in genuine good humor to share their knowledge and celebrate academic curiosity.
One may say that it is only a gridview of students on a screen, divided into two groups and competing to answer questions about World Literature, Math, History, Physics, Chemistry, English, Music, Arts … but there might be something special about Knowledge Bowl online. Many Ninth Graders joined this year, adding new excitement to an old game, while others are more seasoned players who naturally take the lead and set the pace of the competition.
Though our KBowlers come from all walks of high school, there is, above all else, a strong sense of camaraderie, team-work and mutual respect among members. The grid view is a great equalizer of sorts. We laugh and struggle with tongue-twisting questions. Students cheer for each other when a correct answer to a difficult question is blurted out, and we all respectfully listen to what -- if we were in school -- would be the private deliberations of team members during bonus rounds. Being online has also meant loosening some of the formalities of the game. We don´t go over the rules or recite the introductory scripts as often as we do in person. But we also are more connected in a sense.
We are more eager to find solutions together to some of the limitations of being online. In the virtual sphere, KBowlers make buzzing sounds with their mouths and help the teachers figure out who was the first to raise their hands after a question. Online, the pace of the game is slower and often a closed ended question leads to more open ended ones.
Lastly, because answers are always accessible on Google, there is more weight and value placed on trust and academic integrity. What this experience of KBowling online has shown is that perhaps we should consider taking something from the virtual environment back to school with us.
Ms. Sherrill & Ms. Freire
Philosophy & Math HS Teachers