From where I sit, both figuratively and literally, I am able to easily view many things. My literal view is out my dining room window from where I have set up shop so to speak. Each morning I arrive to work and have a beautiful view of the pretty that is often lit up from the morning sun. As the day goes on, the light changes but the view out the window remains the same unless you begin to look closely for subtle differences. In my case, I am able to notice the flowers on my trees being replaced by little leaves and the leaves on the trees become a little larger each day.
The same holds true for the things I am able to notice as I am able to peek into our classes: like teachers connecting with students during themed morning meetings, kids feeling comfortable working together in small groups, kids independently navigating between our learning management system and various links and team meetings, or teachers using the language of community, praise & feedback, and language of identity. While each day may feel like it’s the same as the last, taking time to look for the subtle changes from the day before may make a difference in your outlook.
This week I have a few things to share that may add to ways you can make your days stand out for you and your students.
The first actually comes from my brother in-law’s company, HDR, and it is an earth day BINGO game you can share with your class. Perhaps have your students take photographs of them doing these different activities and share a picture BINGO card to your class Padlet or Flipgrid.
Next is one I am so excited to share: the EduHam at Home from Gilder Lehrman. To read more about it take a look at this WaPo article about the free student program. If your students are studying about this period in history, are Hamilton fans, or want to learn how to take historical information like primary source documents and use their creativity to turn them into songs, raps, and spoken-word piece, then EduHam is one you will want to share right away. Your students or personal children can take what they learn choosing from 40 characters and 14 events from the Revolutionary War, create a video, then share it with Hamilton cast members who will choose 10 submissions each week to highlight. How exciting would that be for your students! I have one student who I know will go absolutely crazy for this chance.
This ABC Kids home exercise video is brought to you by three siblings, two of whom are gymnastic sisters. In just over 12 minutes, you’ll be taken through an exercise for each letter of the alphabet from Alligator leg chomps to Zebra rocking horse lunges. I can see our PE teachers having some fun during their PE Pop-ins and morning workouts.
Yesterday I participated in one of the Learning Revolution’s Emergency Remote Teaching webinars led by John Spencer, “Empowering Students in a Distance Learning Environment.” Among the many things Spencer shared was the importance of starting with the human, the connections and relationships; knowing students’ stories; and student agency moving from compliance to engagement to empowerment. Last week I shared Spencer’s free video writing prompts. Today I’ll add his YouTube channel with hours worth of professional development on design thinking and empowering students (to name just two topics) for you, and project-based and video prompts for student projects (again, to name just two). I am also sharing his instagram where you will find different ways to engage your students like having them choose their Quarantine Band Name. Putting it out there that mine would be the Fine Blue Hippeas. The recordings of yesterday’s Learning Revolution’s Emergency Remote Teaching & Learning webinars are now available for free; just sign up. Zarretta Hammond, Matt Miller, and A.J. Juliani, are just a few of the inspiring presenters. I caught the last bit of Hammond’s “Culturally Responsive Teaching Through Remote Learning” and plan on viewing the rest this weekend.
The last thing I am going to share is an article from Ron Ritchart’s blog that is in this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition. In “The Power of Art and Making Thinking Visible in Early Childhood Learning”, a kindergarten teacher from Sidwell Friends shares how she is creating a culture of thinking and learning not just for her students, but also for their families and caregivers who are often sitting with their student while they are learning from home. By using the familiar See, Think, Wonder routine and language of learning with her students and the families who have become part of her classroom, she continues to model the type of thinking and learning she values and extends the culture of thinking to her remote learning classroom. As she says in reference to our emergency remote teaching, “We don’t shift what we value, we shift what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like for our learners and their families or caregivers.”