My students have a variety of learning challenges and family backgrounds, but they love being part of our community of learners at school. I can't believe it has been over a month already since we've been able to be together and see each other in person, and yet it feels like we are just getting started with this Distance Learning thing.
My special needs students, along with support from their families have risen to the challenge, in ways I never would have imagined, to learn new technology skills in order to participate in remote learning with their teachers and classmates.
Now that our governor has officially closed the schools through the end of the year, and given teachers another two days to plan and collaborate, it's time to finish the year strong.
I'm so grateful to the Minneapolis School District for their efforts to get a device and internet access into the hands of every student. But the field is not level yet. Many of my students lack the basic toys, games, and manipulatives and were considered near necessities when my own children were young.
For my students it’s not enough to post engaging video lessons and host daily face to face video conferencing. They need structure, familiar routines, and motivation to do the work at home that is asked of them in order to keep learning. At school we often use a “First, Then” strategy, otherwise known as the Pre-Mack Principal, to motivate students. I bet you use it, too. Every time you do the thing you least want to do first, and allow yourself that guilty pleasure when you have finished (ice cream after yard work? Netflix after the dishes are done?), you are employing a similar strategy that we teach our kids at school.
Two favorite activities that were always requested at “choice time”, after lessons were done, are Legos (or Duplos for those with motor challenges) and Uno.
I am excited to have the opportunity to deliver these basic games to my students’ homes that will act as a motivator to do their work at home and also be a familiar tie to the school routines they miss. I have even figured out how to will host a weekly virtual Uno game!
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