As school years kick off across the country, those teachers and students who will be logging in to distance learn from home will lose so much.
They will lose the supportive rhythms and routines of their classrooms. They will lose the idiosyncratic personal touches that are so integral to growing young minds. They will lose easy access to essential resources that just can't be duplicated online. They will lose the chance to catch up properly on the playground or over lunch with old friends.
Hopefully, this disruption to in-person learning will be brief, and hopefully those in charge will pay close attention to the schools, the districts, the states that are keeping everyone safe and winning the best results. However, in the mean time, I believe it's crucial every kid (and parent and teacher, too) gets the opportunity to turn off their screens at least a few times every day to stay connected to what is real and what is important to them.
Click here for some ideas to escape the digital landscape and stay connected in the ways in which we were meant to feel connected.
Making math more hands-on certainly takes two or three extra steps in planning an engaging lesson, but this small investment pays huge dividends for all learners in all environments. Have fun raiding Pinterest or reproduce your own manipulatives by looking at examples here.
Above, one of my third graders learns to construct prisms (and even angles of different classifications) using toothpick edges and marshmallow vertices. I always enjoy observing how "patient" the kids are with their building blocks. Funny, but every time at least one group comes up a marshmallow or two short and needs to ask for extras to complete the task.
Joe Manning is a Colorado public school teacher with a background in 3rd-12th grade education. He has helped hundreds of students achieve their learning goals both online and off, and he is excited to find smarter ways to help hundreds more do even better.