Pre-pandemic, the thought of incorporating flipped or blended learning, self-paced learning, video conferencing, and creating videos to teach key concepts or skills was seen as reserved mostly for virtual schools that catered to families that wanted an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schooling or for especially ‘high-tech savvy’ educators who could deftly handle quickly changing technology. Of course, the pandemic and consequent school closures changed all that and teachers, students, and parents had to learn to navigate online learning fairly quickly. For teachers who were comfortable with the tried and true, front-of-class style of instruction, switching to tech tools for creating, assigning, grading, and facilitating lessons was a steep learning curve. But here we are, over a year later, and many teachers have found that they have become incredibly adept at using these same tools if not more so.
May is Share-a-Story Month, instituted by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups in 1974, to celebrate the power of storytelling. By encouraging children’s interest in books and reading, this month is a great opportunity to try new ideas to promote the value of story sharing. For example, have you tried facilitating book discussion groups with your class?
More and more schools are opening up to in-class learning, even as we get closer to the end of the school year. Regardless of if they have two months or two weeks left in the year, the excitement of being in their classrooms with their classmates and teacher can be overwhelming. We celebrate in-person learning and the effort it takes to ensure everyone’s health and safety but after the initial frenzy of first day, first week, first recess, what can be done to get students focused and ready to learn?
Earth Day is on April 22 and this year’s theme is Restore Our Earth which emphasises natural processes, emerging green technologies, and innovative thinking to help restore the world’s ecosystems. Since its inception in 1970, the intent of Earth Day is to care about the natural world through proactive preservation measures. Clearly there is more work to do but there are fun and easy activities to start with in the classroom. Here are seven of our favourite Earth Day activities:
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, a day that recognises the rights of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). What is ASD? It is a developmental disorder that can cause people to behave, communicate, interact, and learn in different ways than most others. As more children are diagnosed with ASD, teachers need to be prepared to teach them using a variety of strategies and tools including educational technology. Read some tips for supporting your students with ASD in the classroom.
March 18th is Global Recycling Day and this year’s theme is ‘Recycling Heroes’ to recognise those who demonstrate the critical role that recycling plays. This includes what these recycling heroes do to help keep the environment clean and balanced. By recycling, we help decrease the need for collecting and processing non-renewable resources like coal and oil, and raw materials like trees. All these activities contribute to the pollution of our air and water, as well as increase greenhouse gas emissions thus affecting the climate. Recycling saves energy and reduces the hazardous effects of greenhouse gases such as the continued rise of global temperatures, melting ice caps, and the increased danger of wildfires. Really, we all could be recycling heroes by the actions we take. Here are activities to try with your class, even in a hybrid learning environment:
Have you hit your rhythm with lesson planning, teaching, meeting with students, and grading assignments? Are your students excited each time they walk in the classroom or turn on their web cameras for a live virtual lesson? Do you wake up each morning so energised that the cup of liquid energy you pour is unnecessary? If your answer is ‘Yes’ to the previous, that is AWESOME! For the rest of you, there may be moments of ‘Yes’, ‘Sometimes’, and ‘I wish’ for each of these questions and that speaks to your hard work and effort to make learning an enjoyable experience for all.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” – Art Williams
As many of us have experienced, heard from friends, or seen on the news, distance teaching has its challenges. Difficulties have ranged from tech glitches and connection issues to students not showing up to live virtual lessons. In addition to these challenges, teachers are making every effort to tailor instruction for students with special learning needs, including regular review of students’ individual learning plans. This can be quite overwhelming for everyone involved, especially the parents at home trying to balance home responsibilities with their child’s specialised needs. How can all involved work together to support the child? Here are some recommendations to consider:
When I was in the primary school, our teacher came back from a trip to Europe with the idea that our class was going to have pen pals in England. She had met a teacher from there and they talked about having their classes learn to write letters while making new friends from one another’s country. Here I was a kid from Southern California (in my mind, not a very big deal) and I was going to have a pen pal from ENGLAND! I was so excited when I got the first letter from my pen pal, Tanya. She actually sent a picture of herself — she had long red hair, freckles, and blue eyes; so different from what I and most of my friends looked like. For the life of me, I can’t remember what was written in the letter just the thrill of receiving one from another young person who lived in a different country! Our class wrote back but unfortunately after the one exchange of letters from each side, we didn’t receive more letters. It was a great idea with so much potential but just fizzled out. Clearly, something went amiss in my experience. This isn’t the case for many educators who have endeavored to introduce their students to different cultures, experiences, and values while integrating important learning skills through letter writing.