The prevailing narrative during this difficult time stems from what we have lost. And the losses are devastating. Still, if we look, there are among the many challenges moments of opportunity that GDS teachers have found to build community, celebrate identity, and learn from the moment.
Prior to closure, 1st grade students learned about folk stories, including traditional Anansi stories. The stories provide for rich discussion of story elements (setting, character, plot, and conflict/resolution), descriptive language, and empathy. One such story explores the five senses in depth. Typically, students would explore the classroom and playground; however, as families self-isolate, they did their explorations at home. As a result, rather than students identifying the same items again and again, students have presented unique items and, most importantly, items that represent an element of their personal or family identity.
Using the Seesaw™ platform, students captured and loaded pictures of themselves and meaningful items from around their home. “I can see my trophy,” wrote Andrew. Gabby attached an audio recording playing her piano. Favorite stuffed animals and pets made regular appearances for the cuddly feel. Interestingly, favorite books also appeared frequently though in different categories, including an adorable picture of Oliver sniffing a GDS library book. These little windows into what their peers find meaningful allow our young Hoppers to understand each other better and develop empathy skills. They strengthen connections both through what they find similar as well as where they notice and honor differences.
Despite the challenges this pandemic presents, important learning and community building continues. Whenever possible, take a moment to notice things we can be grateful for—to ‘stop and smell the roses,’ if you will. It is the sensible thing to do.