The virtual elective fair allows teachers to promote their elective in an online setting


Mr. Reid’s Honors Astrochemistry students participating in class. This picture from previous years was included in his video promoting the class during the virtual elective fair. (Photo Courtesy of Brian Reid)

By Allegra Coleman, News Editor

With the end of first semester comes the start of second semester and the beginning of the course registration process. Students need to decide on what classes and electives they want to take next school year. With Lane having so many electives to offer students, this process can be a little overwhelming. 

To help the process become a little easier, teachers would usually go classroom to classroom to help promote the elective they teach along with students who are currently enrolled in the class, according to Assistant Principal Alison Hildebrandt. Due to this school year being fully online, teachers don’t have the chance to do that.

“With this year being as unique as it is, there really wasn’t an opportunity for teachers to promote their electives, or even have other students really talk about the electives, which is what we typically do when we’re in the building. Teachers will go into certain classrooms and talk about what the elective is,” Hildebrandt said.

That is how the idea of a virtual elective fair came about. The fair was only for juniors, on Jan. 19 and 21 during all the lunch periods and after school from 3:20 p.m. – 4:05 p.m. Hildebrandt and Kerri Thompson, who is the school’s programmer collaborated to create the virtual fair to give teachers an outlet to talk about their electives and for students to learn more about them.

“Since we didn’t get that opportunity this year, Ms. Thompson and I thought that doing a virtual fair would kind of help students learn about different electives and for teachers to get the word out of what the electives are,” Hildebrandt said. 

According to Hildebrandt, the fair was voluntary for teachers, and they had to sign up on their own.

“It was all teacher signup. So first I put out a survey asking what departments and what teachers would be interested in participating in the virtual fair, because it is voluntary,” she said. “So that I sent out and I just sent out the schedule to the teachers and I said just sign up and add your Google Meet links to the document.”

Hildebrandt also wanted the fair to be right before course registration so students could further research electives before going to the virtual fair. 

 “I wanted to kind of give a couple weeks for [students] to look at the website, look at the course catalog and see what’s out there so that you have an idea of which electives you would want to see during the fair,” Hildebrandt said. 

According to Hildebrandt, she didn’t limit teachers for their presentation and allowed them to come up with their way of explaining their elective to students

“I really didn’t put any parameters around it. Typically, the teachers that teach these electives have been teaching these electives for years. So they kind of know what questions that students typically have or, you know, they know what to say basically to explain the elective well and what [prerequisites] are needed for, and so on,” Hildebrandt said. “I do know some electives, some teachers had short videos they were going to show. I know some we’re going to have other students in the class join, as well, to talk about the elective.”

Many teachers put together videos to present during the fair while others just explained their elective to students. 

“I just figured out a basic pitch was the main sort of thing of just explaining like, you know, the basic definition of the class like what the students are like in class. You know, how it’s broken up when it comes to units. How much homework is expected. If it’s an honor class, stuff like that,” said Nicholas Locke, who teaches Honors Philosophy. 

Brian Reid who teaches Honors Astrochemistry, put together a video using pictures from class.

“I took photographs of some of the activities we did with the class, so I did have those photographs to use. And then I just use those photographs to try to build, like, kind of an idea of what we do in class,” said Reid. 

Teachers also experienced a low number of students coming to the virtual fair, according to Locke, which was surprising to teachers.

“There were less people than I thought there would be. So, I was a little surprised,” Locke said. “And there was another one where there was only like maybe two or three people. So I thought there was going to be more.”

It was a little disappointing that there weren’t a lot of students who attended the virtual event, especially to teachers who presented for almost every period they had free, according to Reid. 

“I probably had a maximum of four students at the time. So, that’s kind of low. I thought I was kind of hoping it would be like, I mean I signed up for every class period, almost except when I was teaching,” said Reid. “I was thinking there would be this mad rush of kids, but sometimes no kid showed up. And in some cases, very, very few kids showed up.”

Even though many students didn’t show up, teachers are planning on doing it again for the underclass students, as the main goal was for students to learn more about the elective.

“Absolutely, I would do it again. I mean, it was only 25 minutes of my life and I got to see some students that I don’t normally see, former students, and students I don’t know,” Locke said. “I thought it went pretty well, and I think the main thing was just for kids to get a feel for what the class is like.”

Lane has hosted a course fair in the past years which is similar to the elective fair, as students had the chance to learn about the different electives. According to Reid, the course fair was successful in helping students learn about different classes and electives. 

“It was very, very, very successful. Lots and lots of kids attended and it was for rising seniors first, and then the juniors, and rising sophomores,” said Reid. “So there’s a bazillion kids in the back, and then we would talk for 30 seconds and if you’re interested, you’d come check me out. And then we have a little poster board, and then all the kids would come, and it was great, you know, it was an easy way kids could quickly see what electives there are, and then talk to kids who already took the elective, so it’s not me just like telling you how great it is.”

According to Reid, the electives fair would be more successful if teachers could have a place to post the video they made somewhere for students to watch if they weren’t able to make it to the virtual elective fair. 

“That’d be nice if that was displayed somewhere, so like links where kids could just see it. Maybe a kid works, takes care of their siblings, or there’s some other reason why they can’t make it to the virtual fair, it’d be kind of nice if they could at least watch the videos and then say if you’re interested, these are the times that there’s a virtual fair happening you can go speak to that teacher,” Reid said.

This isn’t the end for the virtual elective fair, Hildebrandt is planning on having another one for the underclassmen after juniors are done with course registration, at the end of March. This way classes that are filled won’t participate due to it not having available spots for students.