By Kathy Brown.
(June 3, 2020) — Distance Learning, which everyone thought was going to be just two weeks, turned into three months. It has been challenging for teachers, parents, and students. It was certainly not what teachers were trained for, what parents signed up for, or what students were used to. But everyone has taken on the challenge, and broken out of their comfort zone. Here we’ll show you some of the projects that have been undertaken during this pandemic’s Distance Learning at Regional School District #17.
Burr District Elementary School
The J. Getty Museum in Los Angeles challenged people all over the world to recreate art using household objects in March when the COVID-19 quarantines first hit the United States. Jay Granucci, art teacher of 39 years, challenged his third grade students at Burr District Elementary School to take part in the Getty Project.
Mr. Granucci told his students “Use three things from your house to recreate it (it’s okay if you need to use more than three things or people). This project should not be stressful for you or your parents. Use literally whatever you have around the house. Get creative with props and just do your best to recreate one of the images.”
Killingworth Elementary School
In second grade at KES, staff reached out to several people in the community to see if they would create videos explaining who they are and what their groups did to contribute resources to the town as students learned about the roles of resources in the community. “The groups eagerly jumped on board,” said Dennis Reed, Principal of KES.
They created a Google site to access the videos and pictures that were created by the Killingworth Historical Society, Killingworth Volunteer Fire Company, the Resident State Trooper, the Children’s Librarian at Killingworth Library, Killingworth Land Trust, Parmelee Farm, and the Killingworth Lions Club. Students could learn more about each organization. Some of the organizations even gave assignments. For example, the Historical Society requested students write a memoir narrating what their school life is like now and asked students to send it to the Historical Society to be archived. Chief Bauer of KVFC asked students to check that their house number was visible on their mailbox and house. The Land Trust encouraged students to go outside.
“Our hope is that our students not only learn about the people and their roles in providing resources for our community, but also recognize the importance of volunteerism in our community,” explained Dennis. “Additionally, we hoped this would be a unique opportunity to connect with community members during these times when we have to be apart.”
Haddam Killingworth Middle School
At the middle school, ELA teachers challenged students with various projects, for example, writing personal memoirs in 8th grade, where the students learned to target the five senses after reading mentor texts from writers such as Elie Wiesel and Jeannette Walls. In 6th grade Math, students explored polygon shapes around their houses. “I received picture models of shapes made out of Triscuit crackers, square shaped cereal, Scrabble tiles, Legos, blocks, square pillows… so many creative ways to show square unit areas of shapes,” said Julie Coogan. “One class also had to create a three-hole mini golf course out of composite shapes and then had to figure out the total area of each composite shape to figure out how much green outdoor carpeting each hole would need.”
In Chorus classes, students have been recording songs for the Masked Singer. “Students have had fun guessing who their classmates are just based on their voices,” said Katrina Potts. “A Few other fun ways to get the kids singing and enjoying music at home have been virtual music games like Forbidden Pattern and Listen & Guess with songs performed by Mrs. Potts or another professional musician.”
In seventh grade General Music class, students have been learning about careers in music. In eight grade World Music Drumming, students have been exploring percussion instruments and cultures around the world. “We will be exploring the ways in which different cultures and communities have used music historically to overcome tragedy, oppression and even pandemics, and parallel these discoveries to our current global COVID-19 crisis as a final project.
In band classes, they have used Flipgrid to bring instrument lessons into the home. Students can participate in play-along lessons with Ms. Tempesta and respond through Flipgrid with video performances. They have also explored new online music-making platforms.
Haddam Killingworth High School
At Haddam Killingworth High School, the teachers have been getting creative as well. Math teacher Zach Copper-Alt has been assigning financial video games to his Personal Finance students. “They seem to love them,” said Mr. Copper-Alt. “Spent, Shady Sam, and Payback are really good. The kids have to make meaningful choices and live with the consequences.”
Sculpture class has explored a unit on environmental art, such as stacking rocks, as well as working with transforming objects and repurposing materials. They have also worked at staying positive and supporting each other.
In Drawing, many of the units were taught with demo videos. Student drew portraits, figures, still lifes, and landscapes.