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2 Posts authored by: vickiemorgado1

The end of June usually signifies celebrations and reminiscing about the school year. This year of course is a very different experience for staff and students and I’ve been reflecting on that. With inspiration from others, I’ve shared some activities below to nonetheless try to celebrate students and encourage some year-end fun.

  1. Sister Helen Mrosla “All the Good Things”

I was listening to a podcast that talked about the beautiful story of sister Helen Mrsola,  a teacher that one day asked everyone in her class to write down each student’s name and also write the nicest thing they could think of about that person.  Years later, the teacher got word that one of her students had died in Vietnam and she was asked to attend his funeral.  When attending the funeral, the family showed her that the piece of paper with other student’s kind remarks about him had been carried in his wallet until the day he died.  Similarly, many of the students at the funeral discussed how they had saved their papers from that day and how much it had meant to them. I was so inspired by this story that I decided to try something similar with my work team. The feedback was very positive and promoted a sense of well-being for myself and others.

Since we are working remotely, I created a Google Form where each person would select the person’s name and then write something specific about the person. If running this activity with younger students, it would be beneficial to teach/discuss how to write specific comments so they are authentic. Then I used the Google Forms Add-on Doc Appender so that when comments were entered, they would go directly into a Google Doc that I had set up ahead of time (watch this video on how to do this). I also asked each person on my team to send me a picture or Bitmoji that I included at the top of their page. Then I printed out the page and mailed it to each of my team member’s homes. This could also be shared with students via email or in your LMS system but I personally love getting mail. In fact, you could even mail students their letter after school ends so they receive something mid-summer to remind them of much they meant to their classmates.

  1. Warm Fuzzies:

My colleague Kathy Paciejko recently completed this activity with our team and has used this strategy successfully with her students. Kathy began by having us fill out a form with the following questions:  What do you like being a part of our team? What have you learned about yourself this year? When thinking about our team over this year, what makes you proud? She also had us record a compliment about each member of our team. Kathy then compiled all of the items into a beautiful Google Slides presentation including photos of our team members and sent it electronically to each team member (template). It brought me both great joy and gratitude to be able to reflect on the members of my team, as well as read the beautiful things they had written about me.

  1. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

My colleague Connie Shepherd and I ran sessions for intermediate students recently as part of a district-wide adventure week, where we had students participate in a Virtual Scavenger Hunt. Since we were running this event for a large group of students from many different schools, we had students share their items via a Padlet. Students in a class could use a camera/microphone/chat in a video conferencing call. Feedback from students was extremely positive and students were excited to move around and have some fun at the same time! When planning for our event, I found a series of videos/resources on-line to assist and this activity can be modified for a variety of ages.

  1. Virtual Collaborative Yearbooks/Memory Books

Another idea that I have seen used is year-end yearbooks or memory books. I like the idea of allowing for collaboration with a class which can be done easily in Google Slides both synchronously or asynchronously. Giving each student one page to add their own memories or pictures allows for personalization and student voice. I notice that there many templates on-line including on Canva.

  1. Virtual Reality Summer Field Trips

Nearpod had some great ideas to wrap up the school year recently on their blog. One of the ideas that I thought sounded like a great year-end activity was a virtual reality field trip. Nearpod allows teachers to embed VR into lessons easily.  This can also be continued by students throughout the summer. They included this template that teachers could adapt and work with.

I would love to hear the creative ideas of other teachers and how they are celebrating students and the memories created during remote learning. Feel free to leave me a message in the comment section.

 

I’ve lost track now of how many weeks we are into remote learning in Ontario but I believe it is nine weeks and entering our tenth. I have been doing a lot of self-reflection throughout this process both as an educator and parent and felt it helpful to write this post as I consider how the rest of the year might look now that we know we won’t be returning to the classroom in June.

Privilege

 One of the areas that has really stood out to me in remote learning has been my privilege and the need to examine it carefully and thoughtfully when creating or delivering curriculum. Privilege could be an entire blog post and is an area that requires further exploration, but I would recommend watching Black Skin: White Masks Racism, Vulnerability and Refuting Black Pathology by Ruha Benjamin. Ruha states:

 One of the things that’s coming to light is how the global spread of a microscopic virus is placing the ravages of racism and inequity under the microscope. But the fact is, we don’t all see the same thing! Racism has a way of actually DISTORTING our vision. Intertwined with many other forms of social domination, racism is mercurial, innovative, even viral.

  A CBC article I read on-line referred to Pandemic Privilege,  which reminded me to be mindful that words matter more than ever and suggested maybe it’s time to “reassess the vocabulary of our pandemic”. One of my colleagues Donna Indrakumaran suggested we reassess our vocabulary altogether. On Twitter she wrote that privilege was always there and now it is just exposed at a greater magnification that we can learn from and change. I believe this statement may exemplify what many of us have come to realize during this pandemic and in education it is no different. 

Differentiation

Differentiation is key during this time and one way to approach privilege. Everyone is adapting to the current situation differently and as time goes on how we adapt is also changing. Some students are continuing their studies and adapting to the situation, while others are not. Given everyone’s unique experience, patience, compassion and empathy is needed more than ever. As time continues, it is likely that some students will lose interest and have already started to. One of the teaching strategies I have found successful and was inspired to try from Tina Zita and Melanie Mulcaster, has been choice boards which have been well received. As well, moving forward I am thinking of using genius hour/passion projects, which would hopefully help to engage students while allowing them to continue to explore who am I.  Lastly, I have learned less is more. Everything seems to take longer in remote learning and distractions are plentiful. When assigning work or interacting with colleagues I have tried to maintain a less is more attitude. 

Focus on Well-Being

Be kind to yourself and others. At the start of this pandemic I was blessed to participate in a webinar with educator Sandra Chow who was already 7 weeks into remote learning.  Sandra writes in a blog post for ISTE:

First, learn to be kind to yourself. You might feel like time is against you, and everything needs to be polished and completed yesterday, but if you let go of perfection, you’ll find that you do not need to cross all the “T’s” Waiting another day will not be the end of the world.

She stressed the importance of kindness and collaboration during these challenging times and I couldn’t agree more. I have tried to embed well-being into my lessons and delivery of materials and personally with myself and family.

Stay well friends