Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Changing the Details in Fairy Tales

Details is a concept of Kaplan's Depth and Complexity that I think often gets misunderstood. I've seen many teachers use this as identifying details in a story. Identifying details is not a rigorous activity. For me, especially with the young ones, I like to have them change a detail and then see what other details change. 

We are doing a unit on fairy tales right now. So we read Cinders, A Chicken Cinderella Story by Jan Brett.

 Many of the details of the original Cinderella remarkable stay the same even though the main character is now a chicken! I asked the students to think about what other fairy tales could have a chicken as a main character and what details of that story would change.

These are their responses (we are still virtual so these are the Pear Deck answers).

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Amazing Stories to Discuss Feelings

So we are still doing virtual learning for a few more weeks and then our parents have a choice of continuing virtual or having the students attend face-to-face. I have LOVED seeing my students again and connecting with them. Virtual learning has been draining for them. They were really excited in the beginning and now I can see they are getting tired. We go from 7:30-2:15 online. They have a 1/2 hour break for lunch and 2 scheduled 10 minute breaks (although I give them way more breaks than that when I see them fading). Many have expressed feelings of anxiety and fear of the coronavirus. We took a virtual field trip to Hawaii and most of their questions were: do people there get the coronavirus? do they kick you out of Hawaii if you have the coronavirus, etc. These poor babies couldn't even enjoy the pics of sun and sand becaues this is first and foremost on their minds.

One of the hardest parts of teaching littles is that you have to let them know the expectations-like keeping their mask on all day without scaring them. There has to be a balance.

That being said, we have been reading lots of stories about emotions and how to deal with those emotions.

Here are a few of our favorites:

A classic about dealing with worries.

This book is one big metaphor about how sometimes our fears are bigger in our minds than they need to be. How we often worry needlessly.

Another story on how to deal with worries.

Most of the books we read for SEL are about managing anger or anxiety-I also want to share stories with my students giving them opportunities to discuss what makes them happy. :) 

We all have days when we are grumpy.

The protagonist's mom gives her advice to push away those anxieties that are keeping her from sleeping. Don't think about purple elephants-so that's all she can think about. 

A classic. Sophie deals with her anger in a very healthy way and it's a great example for students.

A story about facing our fears.

How kindness can make people happy.

Another story about the contagious nature of smiles.

A story about dealing with anger.

I learn strategies from these books as well. We don't always have control over what happens in our life but we certainly have control in how we deal with it. I would love to see case studies on how all this is affecting our students. I know personally, I get frustrated-the technology doesn't work, I get emails ALL.DAY.LONG asking me to complete documentation or other tasks. Literally working 10 hour days and not being able to get ahead at all. I find myself in a bad mood by the time I log off. So I have to take my dog Henry to the park or do some exercises, do something mindless like clean or complete a puzzle. And I'm an adult. I can't imagine these little ones and everything they have to deal with. I want to give them as many tools as possible.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Pear Deck for Virtual Learning

I read a tweet that said "what we did in the spring wasn't remote learning, it was emergency learning". I completely agree with that. In a matter of days education was turned on its ear. Everything we knew about engagement and implementation of curriculum changed literally overnight. 

This summer I played with a number of different programs to add engagement to our daily remote learning. Pear Deck was my favorite.

You can create powerpoints (which I used to teach my whole group sessions anyway) and add checks for understanding and polls within your slides. It's easy to use and there are multiple tutorials online to help you navigate the site.

Here are just a few examples of work my students did remotely:

This is from First Day Jitters as is the next pic.

The kids have gotten used to using it and it has been a lifesaver when it comes to having something to grade. I highly recommend it for virtual learning!