This school year has been about as irregular as it could get. From the Teachers Strike to Covid-19, it’s been a difficult year for teachers, as well as students and families. Navigating e-learning has been a process, mostly because it has involved so many different moving parts.
The Digital Divide
One issue in Chicago Public Schools was access to devices in the home, so that students could actually attend online classes and successfully engage with e-learning. CPS made an effort to get thousands of devices out to families, and it’s helped a lot. My first week of e-learning, attendance and engagement was admittedly super low. This is when the digital divide became super clear to me. My school has been working overtime making sure that each student receives a Chromebook and take-home work that isn’t digital, for those of our students who don’t have access to the internet.
Schools, teachers, and students in the suburbs, in private schools, or more adequately funded CPS schools were able to get up and running with e-learning as quick as they could boot up their laptop. And it’s definitely been hard to reconcile what we don’t have. This digital divide is one of the issues that has just been exacerbated by Covid-19, and CPS schools have felt it.
Not Being In My Classroom
I am happy to say that when I am at Northwest Middle School, my classroom is my happy place. It’s beautiful – if I do say so myself – and every piece of art is hung with a specific purpose and meaning. So being at home and teaching from my kitchen table has been a huge adjustment, and I miss the kids & their energy, without a doubt.
It was hard to tell my students the field trip we had planned was no longer an option. Difficult to tell them that their art show would no longer be a time for us to meet families and connect with the people in our community. That they wouldn’t be able to see their art hang in our hallways until next year and that I wouldn’t see them again for a while – as I am going on Maternity Leave after this Summer. It has definitely been an adjustment to navigate making curriculum that is engaging, fair and equitable to all my students. These past two months have allowed me to think about what my students really need during this time and how impactful arts instruction can be. I wanted to be really mindful about the work I was asking them to do. Is it fair to ask my students to buy supplies for my projects? Or can I think strategically about what they might already have at home??
That said, I’ve found myself focusing on making sure we can still make the most of this time, while also being interested in what we could accomplish.
Lesson Plans That Work Well in An E-Learning Set-Up
One other major hurdle has been the lack of supplies, especially as it applies to an art class. Luckily, IPaintMyMind connected with Blick Lincoln Park and helped provide 100 art supplies bags for our students, which was amazing
Even so, I’ve really wanted to focus on art lesson plans and activities that required as few supplies as possible. I know many of my students don’t have basic art supplies, much less some of the less common stuff.
The lesson plans below take that all into consideration:
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