Communicast: Time for a mindset pivot

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Communicast’s Keith Spiro with Manchester School District ESL teacher Elizabeth Leone

Do you know what day of the week it is? Does it even matter during this covid10 quarantine? If you’re teaching your kids at home via remote learning or find yourself mindlessly searching your smartphone for something to occupy your time, maybe it’s time for a mindset pivot.

Elizabeth Leone teaches in the Manchester School District. If structured content has you down, follow her advice, take a step back and celebrate what your kids are learning, particularly the younger ones. They are learning to use a keyboard, to use voice commands and technology and prepare for the future.

It’s time to put a little bit of learning back into the students hands (yourself included). Start a planting project. Find a seed (even that store bought tomato has seeds that might work), find a pot, add some soil, water it and step back. The filling, planting and watering transfers the ownership of learning. When will it sprout? What does it need to grow: makes it an authentic learning experience.

Time to think differently.

Time to go beyond crisis management if only for a little while this weekend.

Below, in her own works, Elizabeth describes her Project Based Learning exercise:

“We we’e able to get our computers out to our students within the first week of remote learning, but it took weeks to achieve the technology readiness for our students to be able to access these tools! That being said the autonomy that we are seeing from our new ESL students (primarily refugees), many of which have never been in school or have highly interrupted educations, is incredible.
As I was brainstorming ways to put the learning back in their hands, I came up with a Project-Based Learning (PBL) exercise that would integrate ELA, science, math, and many other content areas! During this program, called “Happy Plants”, students were dropped a bag of planting supplies at their door step and have been integrating many online applications including google suites, YouTube, newsela, Padlet, flipgrid, and teacher videos. I will also be going to the ORIS farm with a film crew on Tuesday to film a virtual field trip! This project is highly differentiated and scaffolding to our students unique levels! But they are learning valuable lessons that meet their content standards!
The district has been working with PBL works over the past couple years for our PBL grant! When they heard about this project, they were highly impressed with the initiative taking in the mindset behind this project! They are working on a four-week professional development series for teachers, and are expecting thousands of teachers across the country to participate and be encouraged! This is a very unfortunate time with the closing of schools, but teacher are stepping up and being innovative, even teacher with the most challenging students to reach, English Language Learners!