The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform.
Created by: Jenna Fournel
Discipline: Literacy / Art / Civics
Age level: Good for all ages.
Time: As long as you like.
Materials: This depends on the route you take but at a minimum writing utensils and paper are probably necessary. You might also need audio recording tools, online video recording (like ZOOM) and something to type up the responses.
Students learn many things in school, and while we don’t tend to focus on the social aspects of their education as much as the academics, learning to connect, cooperate, support, and build friendships with peers may very well be some of the most important things they gain from their preK-12 experience.
As most schools move to remote learning across the country, social skills will likely take a back seat to academics. And even in our communities, the opportunities to connect with other children in our neighborhoods, on playgrounds, or in after school activities are off limits.
But there are ways to keep practicing kindness and connection, even as we stay 6-feet apart. Over the past three days we’ve shared activities that provide opportunities to talk with your learners about people outside the space you’re currently inhabiting, and to think about how our actions can still have a positive impact on others, even if we can’t be together face-to-face right now.
- (Part 1) Showing Kindness from a Distance: You’ve Got Mail
- (Part 2) Showing Kindness from a Distance: Words of Encouragement
What to do:
Collect Stories: We’re all experiencing a historic moment together and talking about our experiences is a good way to make the isolation feel less lonely, and less terrifying. Work with your learner to craft a few questions about this experience that they can ask several friends or family members. Questions might include things like:
What are you learning how to do right now that you didn’t know how to do before?
- What is bringing you joy?
- What is hardest about spending so much time at home?
- What are you most looking forward to when this is all over?
- What music is keeping you dancing?
- What’s the most interesting thing you did today?
- What’s something funny that has happened since this all began?
Have your learner either email these questions to friends and get them back in written form, call them on the phone to ask them and write down answers, and/or video call and record the conversation. After they’ve collected these insights, they might
- write a short book,
- create a PowerPoint,
- put together a video montage,
- or create a piece of art that reflects the varied perspectives they learned about.
Make sure they share what they’ve collected with their interviewees. It’s a neat way to show we’re all in this together.
Noting that these activities involve writing, and you may be working with young learners who don’t know how to write yet, pictures work just as well. Or you can have your learners dictate to you while you write what they want to say. But have them be as involved as possible in the act of writing; so even if you write down what they say, have them help to illustrate the words.
Inspired Teaching Connection
These activities tap into the social emotional learning that is central to the Inspired Teaching approach. Learners are driven by Purpose, Persistence, and Action to create writing and art that has an audience and reason for being. In the conversations you have with learners as they create these things, you can engage them deeply in the Wonder-Experiment-Learn Cycle by having them observe the impact their actions have on others (i.e., When you ask your uncle how he’s doing, how do you think that makes him feel?)
See our instructional model here.