This Texas teacher took remote learning to the next level as she gave a tour to her students to the historic places, albeit virtually.
Remote learning is not actually meant to happen within one’s comfort zone. With this idea in her mind, A.P. U.S. history teacher, Cathy Cluck, after getting the green light from her school principal, packed her bags and embarked on her project called “Great American History Road Trip”. This 27-year-old teacher from Westlake High School in Austin tried to make the most of the unusual classroom environment and crisscrossed the country for 15 days to show the places where history actually occurred.
Exhausting her personal savings and racking up roughly 3000 miles since August 21, she had been visiting notable landmarks and embracing the technology and distance by greeting her students ‘live’ from a new location daily. All she wanted was to make this pandemic year interesting for kids and said that teaching history from places made her students at least log in to find out where their teacher was.
Her historic stops included the fields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis; Jamestown, Virginia; and the grounds where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met for their infamous duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.
Wherever feasible, Cluck devised a route that would fit with her lesson plan. She taught two classes from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.
Cathy said, “I just pivoted my screen around, like, ‘Look, there’s the Washington Monument, there’s Lincoln,’” she recalled. “That was cool for me. I don’t know how cool it was for my kids. They said they liked it …”
— Cathy Cluck (@cathycluck) August 29, 2020
But plans don’t always work out. Many adjustments had to be made on the way. Sometimes, it was the COVID-19 travel restrictions that did not allow her to reach the spot while other times, she faced challenges due to a screw that had gotten into her car tire.
Cluck shared in her YouTube video for day 6 of her journey, “When I pulled in last night, remembering how hard this area was hit with COVID, there’s a travel ban in place for people from Texas … So I am turning back and heading South”.
Cathy also mentioned, “I’ve had class from my car, I’ve had class from a battlefield, I’ve had class from rest areas. As long as I have a hotspot that connects … we’ve made it work, weirdly”.
Either way, she embraced the change.
Cluck said that while the journey was not always glamorous, it was fun. Her students also seemed to have enjoyed her journey. One of Cathy’s students, Julia Franco said that she is unable to explain her feelings but the history trip made her more excited to learn and that she just loved it!
Not only did her students learn but her videos on her YouTube channel also helped the general public to learn more about history.
Back in Austin now, Cluck is taking in-person classes in school from September 8, but should her school need to return to distance learning, she is all set for another educational adventure.