My plan for the rest of the year was set…until it wasn’t. Life in Michigan changed on March 20 when we had our last day of school. My biggest regret from that day is not getting a picture of all of us together; it just didn’t feel like it would be our last day for the year. I was thinking it was our last day for a while.
In our district, for the first two weeks, we provided “learning opportunities.” No grades and no due dates. The goal was to connect with kids, to give them support, to give them ways to reach out if they needed help, and to give them these learning opportunities.
Below are letters and links that I have given to my students during our move online. I am hoping that this language can give you ideas as we move through this unique time together. You can take whatever you find to be helpful and leave the rest. No attributions necessary. I organized this with the most recent date being at the top of the page and will update the page as the semester progresses.
Some of the learning opportunities you will find are:
- Borrowing from the New York Times and their morning meetings where they read a poem, I sent students a poem hoping that it would give them a moment of pause and peace — or maybe just a minute away from news about coronavirus.
- I went back into our website archives and pulled out a bunch of human interest stories, reviews, opinion articles, etc., Basically, I was looking for anything that would serve as a model for what students can do now. I also wanted students to know that 10 years from now, their work will still be read. I want students to know now more than ever that their work as journalists matters.
- I asked students to go back on their camera roll and find a photo from the past week that captures a moment where they were happy – or as happy as happy gets right now. Then, I asked them to write a caption so we could compile these together. It’s important right now for people to see each other and to hear stories about the new lives we are all living. Journalism can bring connection that teens, and adults, need desperately.
- My favorite assignment is always a letter. I start and end the year with it, and before we went on spring break I pulled it out again. In these letters, I find out so much about students. And, right now, students need to write to us. These letters can inform our practice as we move forward. We need to make sure that we are addressing students’ most important needs. Luckily, as journalism teachers, I think that we are equipped to do this!
You can follow along with my plans on this Google document that I will continue to update.