FRAMINGHAM, MA — At age 23, Walsh Middle School health teacher Monique Bisnette describes herself as the “new kid on the block.” But when school in Framingham starts this fall, she may have an edge over her colleagues on how to teach during the coronavirus pandemic.
This summer, Bisnette was one of a handful of Framingham teachers who taught all-remote summer school classes. Tasked with teaching physical education online, she designed a simplified curriculum, but one that was very interactive.
When the pandemic shut Framingham schools down in March, Bisnette decided to condense the remainder of her health curriculum for 6th, 7th and 8th graders around human anatomy. With that method, she was able to lay the groundwork for school this fall, where students will learn about topics like substance abuse.
“We always go back to explaining things about how the body system works,” she said.
That was her launching point for designing a summer school fitness class.
During each week of summer school, Bisnette would focus on a different type of exercise, from yoga to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Her 40 students learned how to work out properly, but Bisnette also taught them how the workouts affect the body.
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The classes were largely centered around discussions, allowing students to take what they learned in class and exercise in their free time. They submitted workout logs describing how they used different workout techniques.
“It would be nice to do this vinyasa yoga after a run to keep my body loose and stretched,” student Ella Downey wrote in one journal entry Bisnette shared. “After the workout, my calves do feel a bit better and I feel more relaxed.”
For a final project, the students produced their own workout videos.
Framingham students will start school this fall in fully-remote classes. Based on coronavirus trends, district officials will decide by the end of October if students can enter a hybrid model, which will bring a partial return to in-person classwork. Framingham school officials are currently negotiating with teacher unions on what exactly the fall return will look like.
It’s unclear how the school year will play out in Framingham and beyond, but Bisnette says she may have discovered an angle that will allow students to succeed in an entirely new school environment.
“I think keeping it short, sweet and to the point is going to help these students stay focused and committed to their academics,” Bisnette said. “My students love to talk about their experiences, and they love to have open discussions. I just want to make sure I can adapt so we can continue doing that remotely.”
This article originally appeared on the Framingham Patch