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We Are Making a Square Peg Go Into a Round Hole

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I've always enjoyed the movie "Apollo 13." There are so many good messages in it - about hope in a seemingly hopeless situation, about courage in the face of danger (and possibly even death), about creative problem solving for problems that are not "contingencies we remotely looked at."

This scene is where we are right now with education -

We have been asked to "invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole - quickly." And now we are in the room (or this course) looking at what is available to make that happen.  We have the resources, we have the tools...we now need to make it happen.  We are going to be innovative, creative, and make this work.  We are going to fail and have inelegant, imperfect solutions, but we will get solutions.  And we will continue to refine them until the emergency is over.

One of my concerns is - and this is something often seen with students working on a problem - if we spend time on a solution that we think is going to w…

Moving to Online Learning Be Like Building a House On Mars

My very first blog post ever was about 10 years ago (May 20, 2010).  It was titled Textbooks: the Curriculum Security Blanket.

I've been thinking about this post the last 24 hours as I prepare to help educators in local districts across 3 counties in my state rethink how they teach. This is such a high-anxiety time - our routines have been disrupted, our health (or our loved one's health) is at risk, daily life is DIFFERENT. We don't know how long this "disruption" is going to last, and we don't know how we will come out changed on the other side.

On top of all that,  educators are now having to contemplate how to be "teachers" with our students at home.  And we are falling back to our "security blankets" for in the classroom.  We are trying to bring the comfortable into this new situation, and it concerns me for our success.

Why?  I'm talking to educators that want to know what tool to use, and what content to get - they are focused o…

Technology Tidbit - Learn to Draw...

(Part of our Stay-At-Home series focused on practical ways you can use a resource to foster creativity, connections, and collaboration.)

...or another new skill!

There are many artists sharing weekly or daily lessons that anyone can access. Here are a few that you might want to check out:

Draw Everyday with JJK - author & illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka has created a YouTube channel where he is sharing drawing lessons every day.  Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems - this Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence at Home; he even has some episodes where he shares what kids have drawn and shared back with him!Sight Reading Factory - get your music on! Practice that instrument or sing a song - they are providing unlimited exercises! Take Art Lessons - Artyfactory's free art lessons share the knowledge and understanding of art and design to improve your artistic skills and to increase your enjoyment in creating artworks.DIY Film School - improve your videography skills using the ope…

Technology Tidbit - Video Resources

(Part of our Stay-At-Home series focused on practical ways you can use a resource to foster creativity, connections, and collaboration.)

There are many organizations that are offering video resource (or TV programming) each day which may be useful to parents and teachers.  Here is a short list of a few that are freely available you may want to check out:
Public television (and their companion websites) are changing programming to focus on materials for K-12 Students at home until further notice.  PBS stations have blocked out time for each level - 7-9am is PBS Kids materials appropriate for 2-8 year olds; 9am - 1pm is for students Grades 4-8; 1-6pm is for students Grades 9-12. Additionally many have companion resources that can be used with the programming. PBS Learning has resources and learning activities in most subject areas.  Students do need to make a (free) account if they do not already have one. Discovery Education is providing daily learning activities for parents & teach…

Technology Tidbit - Get Outside!

(Part of our Stay-At-Home series focused on practical ways you can use a resource to foster creativity, connections, and collaboration.)

Parents - There is a growing body of research that shows being outside in nature can have positive benefits for our mental well-being.  With what we are dealing with currently, I think we all can use activities that are good for our mental health.
Go for a walk There are many activities that you can do while walking.  Here are some suggestions to make it an learning adventure:
Make ObservationsHave kids share or journal what they experienced with their senses during the walk.  For instance, today I saw our mating crane pair was back from the south, I felt my face warm on one side from the sun and cool on the other from the wind, I heard the frogs that have returned to the creek.  You could even showcase a sense a day!Observe the clouds, the weather, wildlife, insects, amount/types of trafficLook for patterns - both in nature and manmade  Collect Data …

Technology Tidbit - Museum Treasure Troves

(Part of our Stay-At-Home series focused on practical ways you can use a resource to foster creativity, connections, and collaboration.)

Maybe during our stay-to-home time is the best time to travel to other states or even other countries, just to visit Museums that we may never get the chance to see in person!  Museums both have had, and have been adding, lots of resources for parents, students and teachers the last several years.  Some of these include:

Virtual Tours Apparently there are now 2,500 museums that offer virtual tours from home.  It would take a long time to visit all of them! You can find many of them through Google Arts & Culture.  Take, for example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  You can view many of the paintings viewable there - without the crowd - and even learn a bit about them from information added on the page.  Or go to Rome and see the Sistine Chapel. Here are some ways to you might engage students through a virtual tour:

Have students expl…

Technology Tidbit - Keep them writing!

(Part of our Stay-At-Home series focused on practical ways you can use a resource to foster creativity, connections, and collaboration.)

Continuing to write can be very important for students (and adults) right now, not just for learning but also for our social/emotional health.  Writing can help all of us work through emotions, and deal with the uncertainty of the situation many of us find ourselves in currently.  Yet, as many teachers can attest, it can be HARD getting students to start writing.

Here are some ideas/resources that can help encourage your child to write:
Multi-day writing Journaling example- COVID-19 Pandemic: "chronicle the changes you observe as your community, the country, and the world respond to Covid19" This document includes a variety of modification for elementary, students with special needs, and even one with added social-emotional reflection questions.  It can be helpful for students to process through their experiences and what they are hearing an…