Thursday, May 07, 2020

Thoughts on Teaching & Learning

Over the past several weeks, I have found myself doing a lot of reflection trying to get this online teaching right.  I keep meaning to get my thoughts on paper but then get caught up in the day-to-day work of teaching in this pandemic era.  I know if I can catch my breath, there is a lot to learn and reflect on during this time. So, I decided that every day in May, I will share my thoughts on Teaching and Learning.  This is Day 7.

Early in this online/pandemic teaching, I wanted my 5th graders to have an opportunity to think and write about what was happening if that was something that would be helpful. I did not want to force an assignment to write about Covid19 and about staying home but I wanted to put an invitation out there that would let students do that if they needed to. I mentioned this in one of my first posts during this stay-at-home experience, but wanted to share a bit more.

If you don't know Six Word Memoirs, they are a great type of writing to invite kids and adults of all ages to do. If this is new to you, I'd suggest watching Larry Smith's TED Talk on Six Word Memoirs.

Writing a story in 6 words is a great experience.   I knew that if I asked students to write 6 word memoirs, they could focus on Covid19 and their stay at home experience or they could focus on anything else. I also knew that this type of writing invites art and I have lots of students who make meaning through drawing this year.  

I put the invitation out there and asked students to share their 6 Word Memoirs on a class Padlet. I was amazed at how quickly students shared 1, 2 even 6 of these pieces in a short amount of time. If you've ever tried to write one, you will find that you can't stop at just one--it's a bit addicting.

I wrote one myself first and shared it with students. 

Never imagined a world without libraries.

Some students wrote about their dogs, some wrote about staying home, some write about courage and strength in hard times. About half the students added art, while others added photographs.

As I think about the kinds of writing I am asking students to do at this point in the school year, I want to invite them to try new types of writing that helps them make sense of their worlds in some way--a type of writing that can be healing. I find 6 Word Memoirs to be that kind of writing.  6 Word Memoir writing asks writers to really think about the things that matter most right now, and to think about a way to share that story in very few words.  It is the thinking in creating that I find to be helpful.

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