As soon as I read the title to each of the reading for the week, ideas started to swirl around in my head. I have always been a boy that, as Yoda put it, “Looked to the stars…never his mind on where he was.” It’s true and it has served me well. Right after reading the titles and who authored the pieces I instantly set to writing down ideas. I would love for one day, have all students in a classroom, with access to a virtual reality learning system, where book titles and subjects can just be plucked out of the sky. And the subjects that catch the interest of one student can be thrown over to another, who might catch the same ideas. Both of these titles brought that to mind.
COVID has shaped learning in way no one would have thought. COVID forced educators to put our money where our mouths are in regards to how we use the technology at our disposal. And as teachers we stepped up to the plate and delivered. Virtual learning has become the new norm. I believe that classrooms will become rewards to student learning. However, all of this raises some questions: To those students who are thriving in a virtual learning environment how do we get them to want to return to a classroom? Then, how do we as teachers mix online learning and classroom activities to help students who struggled under COVID’s mandated virtual learning environments? I think that an answer to both of these questions can be found with the volumes presented in each piece.
The first thing I clicked on from Community Building Online Activities by Doctor Zamora and Esteemed Friends was the “9 ways of Liberating Structures.” I wasn’t even sure I knew what that meant. But when I opened the page and read what the activity involved, I knew that this was certainly something that could help me answer or at least address one of the questions I posed to myself early on. The activity involved interviewing. That alone could help me help students. We are in a community within the classroom. The kids who thrived online can engage and the students who struggled can communicate without anyone else knowing they are doing so. That to me is equity in education. This is where we can connect it to what Dr. Bali and her group of esteemed friends were talking about in “Intentionally Equitable: Hospitality in Hybrid.” Those students who struggled during times of remote learning can be welcomed back into learning when they may have felt abandoned by it. Dr. Bali’s piece summed it up by saying, “Hospitality is not the default in academia.” It’s not nor has it ever been. So much has been mandated on teachers that many students are under a sink or swim pedagogy (Korean Beef…couldn’t resist.).
The online activities presented by Dr. Zamora along with Dr. Bali have provided a bridge. With the online activities I can still have students working online in the environment that suited them best during lockdown. It’s a place where they feel welcome. Superman’s Fortress of Solitude if you will. Then, activities like “Conversation Cafe,” can allow struggling students to mix it up with advanced online learners to see that the virtual world is not so bad. This then facilitates the ideas presented by Dr. Bali and her thoughts on Hospitality. Of course all of this takes me full circle to addressing the questions presented at the start of my blog. Both of these readings invited ideas that can help students achieve equitable learning that can be measured. #netnarr #elitclass