By Anne Chlovechok
In an attempt to engage their students from afar, school teachers around the country are coming up with some novel ideas to use in distance teaching.
Locally, Andrea Blackstone, a second grade teacher at Shenandoah Elementary School, saw something on social media that gave her an idea.
“I saw this idea on Instagram and Twitter,” Blackstone said, “like a person joking about using their tub since they were supposed to teach from home. But I stole the idea and thought it was a good one! And I thought my kids in my class would love it! Talk about engagement! That is so important to me – making learning fun and making them buy in, even if they are at home.”
Blackstone realized her white tub surround was the perfect substitute for a whiteboard – a teaching tool used at school.
She used it to create an instructional video she assigned online to her second graders to teach them to tell time, and only lasted five minutes.
Little did Blackstone suspect how far her video would go – well beyond her second-graders.
“Tori Thompson, the mother of one of my kids, saw this (video) and took a picture of her daughter watching me teaching in the tub on her iPad. She thought it was neat, so she put it on Twitter and tagged the lieutenant governor, who then re-tweeted it! Then the Ohio Department of Education re-tweeted it with a comment on how every room can be a classroom, and applauding keeping the learning happening outside of the classroom. From there, Mike DeWine got hold of the picture,” Blackstone said.
DeWine started his presentation on Friday, April 3 by taking a minute to acknowledge and thank educators and administrators for all they are doing, as distance learning is uncharted territory. He said, ‘Thanks to social media – we can see the new and creative ways teachers are teaching their kids.’ And he thanked educators across the state. My picture was one of three shared.”
The governor had no idea just how creative Blackstone’s methods were. Her seven-year-old son shot the video of her teaching in the tub, while her four-year-old daughter hid in the bottom of the tub waiting for the end of the lesson to jump up and yell, “Surprise!” to Blackstone’s students. Meanwhile, the one-year-old was popping in and out of the video, babbling.
“Was it perfect?” Blackstone asked. “No! Did it work? Yes! I’m home with my babies trying to teach my babes at school – it’s difficult, but it’s just another way to invite my students into my real life. They are getting real-life connections to me and mine.
“I know so many other teachers at Shenandoah should have been on that T.V. screen, too! I’m so thankful to be a part of our district. There are so many teachers who go over and beyond to reach their kids.”