Kids Together At Home

Now that my Grade 4 class and I have over a month of distance learning due to COVID-19 school closure under our belts, we’ve settled into a routine. What’s obviously missing is the socialization we normally enjoy.

At this moment, millions of students are at home. The youngest miss their friends and classrooms yet are comforted by the security of being at home. Teens are highly aware of the dire situation, but are likely already deeply connected through all kinds of social media.

The nine- and ten-year-olds in my class understand what’s happening, but don’t have a forum to share their experiences and hear from others. I am starting an initiative for them by setting up a Flipgrid and inviting teachers of similar age students to join.

In this space, they are free to record videos of their thoughts and feelings, view others’ videos, and reply to each other (all posts will be moderated by a teacher for appropriate content). Teachers of similar age students with Flipgrid experience are invited and encouraged to join.

To participate, follow the instructions below:

  • Contact me (@BarMillEDU) on Twitter.
  • Obtain parental consent for your students to participate.
  • I will send the ‘Grid’ information to you.
  • Invite participating students to join.
  • Moderate Grid and respond to videos.

Recruiting four or five other classes around the world would be fantastic. Early collaborating teachers would be great to help plan the prompt for students. If there’s enough interest, we could even have Grids for other different age groups. I hope you’ll join or share this post with teachers who may be interested!

Expert in the classroom, virtually

By definition, a generalist teacher is not an expert in any particular discipline. Fortunately, most of us are, and enrich our classrooms with our interests and passions. Unfortunately, the scope of a school year of inquiry stretches far beyond any one teacher’s expertise.

Excursions and guest speakers can make up the difference, and video communications technology makes it possible to bring experts into the classroom from anywhere.

Near the conclusion of a recent unit which focused significantly on advertising, it occurred to me that one of my friends, Adam Lisagor, is the founder and owner of Sandwich Video, one of today’s premier creative advertising organizations. It only took a few text messages and time zone conversions to have him on the big screen in the classroom.

 

To prepare students for the interview, we first viewed several of Adam’s videos, then set a home learning task to explore more. Then, I asked them to submit questions via an online form so that I could sort and select in a way that promoted a conversational mood. As questions were chosen, students approached the camera one at a time to speak with Adam. Not surprisingly, their questions were insightful and elicited excellent comments on persuasion, honesty, and creativity.

In addition to an excursion, I would attempt to schedule a guest speaker, either in person or more likely via video, for every unit of inquiry.