Sunday, April 25, 2021

Learning Gains

This post has been brewing inside me for the last few weeks. I listen to state representatives and parents lament all the "learning loss" from this past year. I prefer to look at what we accomplished as learning "gains". We are so fortunate to live in a time when digital resources allowed us to keep up with all our students this year-even those who were safer learning from home.

Let me tell you about the gains my 1st Graders made. These 6 year olds are able to navigate programs like Pear Deck and Teams. They even start their own Teams meetings in the evenings (this is discouraged of course). They take screenshots and change their backgrounds. I have a student who even figured out how to put a picture of herself there so it would look like her camera was on but it was her background!

They have learned about resilience and how communities can come together to help protect each other. I never have to remind my students to wear a mask or stand 3 feet apart from each other-they do it without being asked because they care about each other. They learned this year without workstations and collaborative groups. Did we have a few students who did not participate regularly, we did. But I have faith that next year those students will be able to catch up on what they missed.

Teachers have received so much vitriol this year both from our elected officials and the general public. I read comment after comment about how lazy we are and  how we obviously do not care about our students. It was heart-breaking. I think it's important for us as a profession not to fall for all the lectures on learning loss. Let's focus on our successes this year-because there were a lot of them! I am so proud of my students and of our profession this year.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Letter to the Sea Turtles

We did a lot of activities to discuss the environment this week but this was my favorite. After reading several books including:

What I love about this book is the kids identified a problem in their community and proposed a solution for it.

We watched videos of the eggs being covered up in the sand and the turtles fighting their way to the sea. Then students wrote a letter to the turtles.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

My Favorite Picture Books for Teaching About the Environment

I find that students are intrigued and inspired by lessons on what is going on in with the environment right now. They wonder why we let it get to this point, why no one has done anything to stop it. I tell them that we are counting on them to grow up and care.

Some of my favorite stories for teaching these lessons:

A little girl begs her father to avoid mowing a small part of their year to save the wildlife and ends up turning her yard into a little sanctuary.

Rocket is back, this time frustrated by all the plastic in the ocean.

The true story of a woman who saw a problem (plastic bags) and solved it (they wove them into purses). 

The sea turtles were having trouble finding their way to the ocean because of all the artificial light coming from the homes on the beach. So a group of students decide to come up with a solution to that problem.

One woman singlehandedly changed the landscape of a whole city. Her legacy is an amazing tale.

I love lists! 10 easy things we can do to help-from turning of the water when we brush our teeth to recycling-practical ideas.

Another true story of a woman who wanted to help make potable water easy to access for her community.

Great example of persuasive text! What if all the sharks disappeared-our ecosystem would not recover from it.

If you do project-based learning these books would be a great stepping off point for identifying problems in the community they could come up with solutions for.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Ethics and the Rainforest

With Earth Day approaching we have been reading stories about the rainforest. I asked my students to think about the Ethics-is it right or wrong that we are cutting down so many trees in the rainforest. Let's say they were a bit enthusiastic in their answers. :)

"Because oxygen"

Monday, April 5, 2021

Think Like a Zoologist-Language of the Disciplines

We are learning about how animals can adapt and about their characteristics in science this week. We learned all about what zoologists do and the vocabulary that goes along with that job. The students then designed a zoo enclosure for the animal of their choice taking into consideration the characteristics of that animal.

Doing projects in a hybrid environment has been challenging. If everyone was in class we might use different media-but for now they responded on the digital program that we use-Pear Deck.