For some, starting post-secondary studies during a pandemic means more online than in-person learning and that can be a challenge.
(UT) student Tia Pavo sees it as an opportunity, however. It’s a chance to learn new skills and technologies, to find new ways to engage peers and instructors. She put those lessons to practice in her Math Fair project.
For Pavo, attending the UT program was an easy choice. She grew up a few short blocks away from the college. Taking advantage of the program’s small class sizes and proximity to home only made sense as the next step towards her goal of becoming an elementary school teacher.
“There are just so many benefits to starting my degree at Lakeland,” says Pavo, a first-year student. “I also get to do a practicum in my first year, which is really important.”
Before Pavo enrolled in Lakeland’s UT program, she worked with children as a camp counsellor, dance teacher and also served on the youth council, chairing it in the last year. Pursuing a degree in elementary education was a natural progression, but for Pavo, starting college has been anything but routine. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing wide-spread changes everywhere, she found her post-secondary studies moving online and has adapted to those changes.
“My experience at Lakeland has been really good so far. Our access to campus is limited, but I feel like the instructors have adapted really well to online classes.
They do their best to make sure we’re still having fun.”
Finding opportunity in challenge
Pavo is focused on finding advantages in the new delivery system, learning new skills and putting them to use.
One particular use was Math Fair. Usually, Math Fair is an annual student-run event where Lakeland students create math-inspired games to teach local elementary students how to add, subtract and more. It gives Lakeland students the opportunity for some hands-on teaching experience. This year, the format of Math Fair was significantly impacted by the pandemic and restructured to be an entirely pre-recorded digital experience. For Pavo, that just created endless innovative opportunities.
“I like that we got to do math fair digitally,” she explains. “It opened up so many options that you can’t really do in person. I’m very much extra in the sense that if I’m passionate about something and have an idea for it, I’m going to make sure that it gets done exactly how I pictured it in my mind.”
For Pavo, that meant using the Google slideshow skills she’d already developed over the pandemic for academic purposes. She learned to make interactive slide presentations to make games to play with her friends over Zoom. So she applied those same skills to her project, creating Captain Cleverbones & Calico Jacks Treasure Hunt.
With questions adapted from the elementary school curriculum, the interactive project takes students through a series of math problems as students help Captain Cleverbones find a missing treasure. Pavo filmed multiple video clips giving the students encouragement and assistance along the way, all in character.
“I got pirate props, I dressed up as a pirate,” Pavo says. “I did my make up, I made a treasure map. It took a few weeks to put together but I’m very proud of how it came out.”
All of the Math Fair projects were posted online with a link sent to the two Lloydminster school divisions.
Even though she doesn’t get to witness the children reacting to her project, Pavo says the entire experience was a valuable one and it will inform her teaching practices to come.
“I really learned that I have to be prepared for anything,” she explains. “Obviously, nobody expected that the world was going to shut down and schools moved online. I had to learn all new programs and how to find new resources. I think it’s a really important skillset to have as a teacher. You always need to be adaptable and always have something in your back pocket, just in case.”
Photos: Top - Tia Pavo helps children solve math problems to find a treasure in Captain Cleverbones & Calico Jacks Treasure Hunt. Bottom - Tia Pavo.