Before the end of the 2019-2020 school year, theology educators Mark DeLaRosa and Peggy Monti collaboratively assigned their freshman students a project-based learning assignment unique to our COVID-19 reality. Its goal? Identify how our students respond equally to their call to serve and to social distancing.
Both educators said they were heartened by how the students embraced the sacrifices required to preserve the common good. “The students expressed an understanding that one of the best ways they can help is by social distancing,” Monti explained. “And because it is so hard for teenagers, it truly is a sacrificial act of love and solidarity with the larger community around us.”
DeLaRosa added that the projects the students developed demonstrate they understand that in this new normal, there is an opportunity to practice different ways of connecting with and caring for others.
That message is one that Director of Outreach Gary Meyerl ’82 said has been reinforced over and over during this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. He said there are opportunities for teens as well as adults to channel feelings of restlessness from being at home by reaching out to someone just to talk or helping older relatives or neighbors with technology.
There are opportunities to lend a hand outside the home, too. Meyerl said local charities and other volunteer groups that Gibbons partners with continue to need help.
For their end-of-the-year theology project DeLaRosa and Monti each used educational technology tools, like Google Classroom, Zoom, and Screencastify, to explain and collect students’ submissions. They each gave the students one week to complete the assignment.
Some students created their projects using such tech tools as PowToon, Venngage, and Google Slides. Others wrote essays and poems. And still, others submitted original artwork.
So, what do DeLaRosa and Monti hope their students gained from doing the project?
“This project has helped our students reflect on what is happening in our world, and that reflection has been a Christian one,” DeLaRosa said. “Yet it also has given our students a voice in the midst of suffering and change.”
It was, he added, and Monti agreed, an appropriate and faithful way to complete our freshman theology year together.