I always tell my students to look for the silver linings and to embrace the "A-ha" moments. While teaching and learning during the COVID-19 quarantine has been a little on the overwhelming side for both teachers and students, it has also put many of us (teachers) back in the students' chair, and for me, at least, keeps bringing me back to the core of what I love about teaching: LEARNING!
And, wow, have my students and I been learning a lot! At Seabury, technology has always been an integral and integrated part of our classrooms, but now that is more true than it has ever been. Through this distance learning adventure, my students and I have been learning about and using all kinds of new online platforms and tools, and I just had to share this recent find and how my class has been using it.
Apparently, there are plenty of techy teachers out there, and Seabury's own tech-whiz, 3rd-Grade teacher Mrs. Meads, has tapped into a Facebook group of teachers sharing awesome resources they have created using Google slides. She recently found and shared this one:
This math enrichment slide has links to almost every cool math resource I have ever used in 10-years of gifted teaching. I've started customizing this by adding and updating a few links and I plan to add a few more of my favorites, but it was packed with good stuff from the beginning. There are links to fractals, the Fibonacci sequence, adventures in Pi, and links to tried and true math games from geniuses like Greg Tang Math (linked here to Kakooma - a WONDERFUL game for practicing math facts). There's Ken Ken, which is the first math enrichment resource I teach every year. I have taught Ken Ken to every grade from 1st through 5th. I call it "Sudoku with numbers and math equations." It is completely customizable to the right level of challenge for any student. And that is only the beginning of what can be accessed from this one math resource. Whoever created this slide - you are a wonderful teacher and THANK YOU for sharing! I can't believe things like this are being shared freely -- something like this will soon be monetized, I'm sure. (Shout out here to ALL of these wonderful teachers, companies and resources that are providing free accounts and resources for education right now!)
Then to develop some accountability, get some feedback, and generate some excitement about the resources on the math enrichment slide, I incorporated this program, Padlet, which allows students to "pin" items onto a virtual bulletin board. Students here shared which resource they liked after exploring the slide for the first time.
I've been looking for resources like Padlet that allow students who are less comfortable sharing on Zoom to stay engaged and provide input, and I am finding quite a few -- and loving the results. Students who won't say a word in a Zoom meeting will blossom like flowers when they make a Flipgrid video, and these tools are helping us develop more classroom community. I've also had students post the best resources they found when researching a particular subject in Padlets like this one, which is a great way to give students input and ownership of their own learning.
So, yes, like every other teacher out there right now, I am working hard to overcome the obstacles we are facing in this new way of "doing school." Along the way, I am gaining a lot of new tools for my teaching toolkit, and the students are exploring some great technology tools and building their own technical repertoires as well. There ARE always silver linings!