Two Sides to the Same Story


Side 1: Shira Axelrod

Why I Stayed in AP Bio

When I first signed up for AP Bio, I thought, like the rest of my peers, that the class would be in a normal classroom setting. Unexpectedly, that was not the case, and for this 2017 – 2018 academic year, the AP Bio class was to take place over Zoom with a teacher located in Israel. My immediate thought was, This is crazy! I can’t do this. You can count me out! The class is already a challenge as it is as an AP course, and this would make it an even bigger challenge!

I decided to stick it out because I love the topic of Biology, and if I want a future in the field, taking this AP course gives me a head start. Also, it is an AP course, so hopefully, with the combination of my hard work and effort, I can get a grade high enough to earn credit, helping me out later in life. Additionally, one plus about taking this class with a teacher in Israel is that my test grades are posted while I’m sleeping, and I can view them  right when I get up.

Overall, the class is challenging and often I think I’m crazy for doing it, but then I think about the reward that can come from it and how proud I’ll be of my hard work, and it keeps me going. I’m not a quitter; I don’t give up easily, and I don’t like the feeling of defeat. So when I push myself and I feel like I can’t anymore, I know, at the end of the day, that I tried my hardest, and that’s what counts. I think when you put your mind to something, you can really do it with hard work and effort. Next year, SKA will return to having a live teacher in the AP Bio classroom, but in the meantime, I know that this was a valuable opportunity for me.


Side 2: Michal Ginsburg

Why I Left AP Bio

AP Bio is a challenging class.  But I was up for the challenge, especially because Bio was one of my favorite classes in ninth grade, and I was excited to continue learning it in the AP class.  This year, though, instead of having a teacher teaching in person, like we usually have, the teacher lives in Israel and teaches the class on a video chat app called Zoom.  

When I considered all of the pros and cons for staying in the class, I realized that the challenges in the class would be much greater because of the online program.  I value teacher-student relationships and would not feel comfortable if I wasn’t able to approach my teacher with a question or send an email knowing that I would get a response very quickly.  If my teacher was online, I would not be able to have that personal connection with her.  I was especially concerned about the seven hour difference because if I had a question and emailed her, she would not see the question until the morning.  

Recognizing our dilemma this year, the administration was very supportive and encouraged all of the students who originally signed up for the class to stay in the class until after Sukkot.  After Sukkot, if we wanted to switch we would be able to.  I thought about the other classes I might switch into and realized that if I waited until after the Chagim, I would be missing so much of the material.

It took time for both the school and the students to become comfortable with this new style of learning, but in the beginning I did not feel comfortable at all with the “go with the flow” mentality.  On one of the first days in AP Bio, we were all missing a booklet that was needed for class and was supposed to be given to us.  If the teacher personally taught in school, this would not have happened.  There would not have been a two step communication process through the administration before any handout is given out.  A two step communication process is bound to bring many miscommunications.  

After the first few AP Bio classes, I decided to switch into Physics and AP English.  I am very happy to be able to say that I do not regret my decision because I enjoy these new classes very much.  The teachers, Mrs. Manne and Rabbi David, were both very accommodating and helped me catch up on the assignments and class work that I missed.  Although this was a very difficult decision, I believe that it will give me a greater opportunity to learn, and succeed in the future.