Earlier this morning, we had a staff meeting via Zoom. It has been challenging for many of our teachers to be separated from their students. They genuinely love their students and want to support them. I have seen how agonizing it has for many of them not to be able to give high fives or that needed pep talk to students in the hallways. It has been hard for them. As a technology facilitator, I don't always work directly with students as much of my work is concentrated on supporting the educators in our building. So I thought that I was doing okay and focusing my time on supporting our teachers and staff. However, this changed yesterday afternoon as I attended one of our 6th grade zoom meetings. As I saw the pictures of our 6th graders popped, my heart just melted as I realized how much I missed seeing them in the hallways and classrooms. I was really thrilled to see them and know they were okay.
I also had the opportunity to attend a weekly meeting with Jaclyn Stevens (@jaclynbstevens) of the Friday Institute for instructional coaches, media coordinators, and technology facilitators. The Friday Institute has been doing an amazing job providing support and professional learning for all educators during this remote learning time. In yesterday's session, Jaclyn shared some great ideas and resources to engage staff and help us focus on meeting their social emotional needs. Based on the ideas and inspirations that I received from her session and my realization of how much I missed our 6th graders, I wanted to work with our instructional coach, Amanda Pembroke (@pembrokeamanda), to create something to help our staff share what they were feeling and experiencing. As I was walking the dogs, it hit it- remix an activity that I had done with the North Carolina Digital Leaders Network a few years on emoji writing with some of the ideas from Jaclyn's session.
From this, was born the activity "5 Pictures and 15 Words." In activity, our staff would be divided up into breakout room in zoom of 3-5 people and complete a slidedeck where they tell about their quarantine experience using 5 images and up to 15 words. I prechoose the images using Pixabay (www.pixabay.com). Pixabay is a great resource to find pictures that can be used without copyright consideration since they already provide the permission for use with no restrictions (but it is always good to provide attribution for them as a good model for students). Each group received the same five pictures and they could use them in any way they chose. The beauty of this activity as Mrs. Pembroke pointed out is that it allows for critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Each group was assigned a slide in the slide deck and asked to complete it within a certain amount of time. Our principal floated between rooms helping facilitate conversations. A more complete list of rules is available in our slidedeck posted below.
We reconvened and we had our groups share their creations and it was AWESOME! It was amazing to hear what each group was experiencing and their interpretations of the pictures. I loved seeing how the same starting points diverged into a variety of emotions, experiences, and creations. It also allowed our staff the opportunity to share in small groups their experiences and stories. We expanded our empathy for others as a result. We also continue to build connections between our staff and expand our relationships. As I listened to each group share, I was blown away with their final products. Below are some of the creations that they shared and I was truly touched by this. Perhaps remote learning has taught us some important lessons about human connections that we could not have learned otherwise. Let remember those when we do reconvene face to face and be sure to continue to touch the hearts of others.
Our instructional coach shared how this could be a great activity to modify to use with students in the classroom as a exit ticket, warm up, or a formative assessment. If you would like to have a clean copy of the slidedeck to use, you can make a copy of it into your Google Drive by visiting this link. Be sure to drop us a line or tag us in a tweet (@scibri and @pembrokeamanda) if using this activity and let us know how it is going and how you may be remixing it.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.