K-12, Language Arts, Social Studies, Student Products, Teaching Tools

Chronicles of COVID-19, Part 2

Traffic is starting to pick up on our COVID-19 Diary by Kids Around the World.  I wanted to share the following entries from two friends who have been separated by miles and a pandemic, but still keep in touch.

Keep sharing out there!  As you can see, I am trying to comment on each one!

Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (6)


Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (7)


Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (8)



K-12, Language Arts, Social Studies, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Web 2.0

Distance Learning and Chronicles of COVID-19, Part 1

One of my biggest pet peeves is filling out paperwork at doctors’ offices, especially ones that I have already visited in the past.  I feel a quiet rebellion overtake me when I am given a clipboard full of forms that ask me questions I’ve already answered about everything from my gender to my health history.  I’m tempted to use biographical information from Anne Boleyn to see if anyone notices.  Birthday? 1501.  Major health issues?  Decapitated head.

In this day and age of computer technology, I have an overwhelming suspicion that the medical office database already knows more about me than I do, and that I’m just being given these sheets in the hopes that I won’t notice that I’m still in the waiting room 30 minutes past the time my appointment was supposed to begin.

I’m sure you’ve deduced that I’m making the connection between my own hatred of “busywork” and the way our students feel when they think they are being given assignments just to pass the time.  The number of homeschooling/distance learning resources out there are overwhelming right now, and many educators are spending this week coming up with plans for their students.    As Sonya Terborg, one of my favorite colleagues who I need to meet in IRL, mentions in this blog post, it is important that educators begin with the end in mind.  Mistakes will still be made, but we can avoid the largest and most predictable one – assigning busy work that will serve no purpose.

The above reasons are why I provided the COVID-19 Diary by Kids Around the World yesterday.  I know that many students love to share about their own experiences, and that they often like an authentic audience.  I am also hoping they will learn from what others have to say, and will gain a broader perspective.

I considered using other tech tools such as Flipgrid or YouTube, but settled on using Google Slides because of the flexibility of being able to choose if you want to add your own video or just write.

As Sonya asks in her blog post, “… what are we doing to connect them with each other in meaningful, authentic ways, and how are we supporting and planning for the same opportunities for student agency that have become so revered in the classroom?”

Here is a slide provided by one student today who has chosen to connect, and I hope that I will have many more to share in the future!  Please share this with any students you know!

Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World (2)

K-12, Student Products, Student Response

Our COVID-19 Diary

UPDATE 3/18/2020: I am receiving requests for access to the Google presentation from several people.  It is shared publicly for editing, but some school districts have blocked Google files that are not from the same domain.  Unfortunately, I cannot change anything on my end if that is the issue. Please feel free to start your own diary for your students if you are unable to access mine.  Also, please see the note below if you are trying to share this with your students.

Para obtener una traducción de esta publicación en su idioma nativo, haga clic en Google Translate a la izquierda.

We are navigating unfamiliar territory right now as countries around the world struggle to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we witness unprecedented actions being taken such as extended school closures, I feel that it is important to capture the different ways that our society chooses to cope with the surreal existence that we suddenly face.  Of course, we can see this all around us thanks to the firehose of social media.  But, what if we took a moment to strip all of the extraneous political blustering and toilet paper hoarding away so that we could focus on the real thoughts and feelings of people who are dealing with this completely unfamiliar disruption of our normal lives?

Anne Frank’s diary gave us incredible insight into a period of history that many of us would never have understood, and compels us to learn from the mistakes of that dark time.  Would social media have amplified her voice or drowned it out?  So many of us have the opportunity to speak now, but have we actually increased the numbers of those who listen?

With these thoughts plaguing me deep into the night, I decided I wanted to find a way to concentrate the stream of experiences, especially of children, during the next few weeks.  So, I started a collaborative Google Slides presentation to which I would like to invite any student, ages 5-18, to contribute.  With so many students home from school for the foreseeable future, my hope is that those with internet access can take a few minutes to add their own perspectives to this presentation.  They will be able to read what others have to say, and I will choose some to post on this site for a larger audience. (NOTE: DO NOT MAKE A COPY OF THE SLIDE PRESENTATION UNLESS YOU JUST WANT TO USE IT WITHIN YOUR DOMAIN (WHICH IS FINE WITH ME).  JUST GIVE YOUR STUDENTS THIS LINK.  IF THE LINK DOES NOT WORK, PLEASE SEE THE NOTE AT THE TOP OF THIS POST.)

Here is the sample slide I provide in the presentation.

Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World

I will be monitoring the slide show closely for inappropriate content, or for any private information that should not be shared.  I hope that students in any country will feel comfortable adding to the slide show, although translating other languages may be a challenge.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me, engagetheirminds@gmail.com  (Also, if you are in need of educational materials regarding the Coronavirus, please see this post.)

Please share the link to Our COVID-19 Diary from Kids Around the World with educators, parents, and guardians, so we can get a variety of contributions.

Thanks to SlidesMania for the great template!

3-12, Science, Teaching Tools, Videos

Coronavirus Education

With various media outlets reporting on the current coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), it is important that students who may be exposed to this onslaught of information understand the facts.  Educating younger children about the virus may be as simple as reminding them how to wash their hands, and other common methods that can help prevent the spread of many diseases.  Older children may benefit from more specific information, and this can also be seen as an opportunity for broader learning as they compare/contrast pandemics throughout history, analyze mathematical models, and develop their own ideas about how to avoid further outbreaks.  I’ve curated some resources below that might be useful in the classroom setting.  As always, please review materials before using with your class to determine their appropriateness for your particular audience.