In the NY Times Opinion section feature, "Kids Can Learn to Love Learning, Even Over Zoom", Adam Grant and Allison Sweet Grant landed on mystery, exploration and meaning as the three key principles for teachers to focus on to nurture interest in distance learning.
The idea that the purpose of school is not just to impart knowledge, but to instill a lifetime love of learning, is right in line with how we think about the role of online enrichment in 2020.
With so many online classes out there, how can families pick the ones that support this important purpose? Here are our three key things that the best online classes have in common:
1. They reach through the screen with hands-on materials.
What does it mean to "reimagine screen time?" A big part of the nascent transformation in K-5 online education can be credited to the ways educators have creatively adapted to the new teaching environment. One way they seem to reach through the screen to engage young learners is with interactive materials that allow students to be hands-on from home.
Whether it's simply a pencil and paper in the imaginative Fun With a Pencil drawing class led by a passionate artist, or a Little Passports STEM activity kit for kids to build a rocket or submarine with friends, while guided by an experienced teacher, creative implementation of materials makes a big impact on student engagement.
2. They spark curiosity.
Love of learning is rooted in curiosity and must be inspired rather than taught. Neuroscientist Charan Ranganath says that curiosity "is like an itch that you have to scratch." When kids lead in the search for answers, it's the ultimate learning motivation. Seek out online instructors that illuminate and nurture curiosity. You can find hints in their class descriptions. Do they ask questions? Is the content focused on outcomes or exploration?
In Dr. Linda Hurley's Earth Science classes, K-5 kids set the tone of the class with their questions about Earth's magnetic field, climate change and Dinosaur life in the Mesozoic. Linda says, "Elementary students are naturally curious about the world around them. My teaching philosophy focuses on connecting to that curiosity and encouraging students to develop a relationship with science."
3. They build connections.
Sharing, learning and playing look a lot different this school year, but connections with classmates and teachers remain as important as ever. Thinking beyond cyber-ice breakers, the educators who foster the most collaborative online environments weave student voice and choice into their entire curriculum.
Whether it's a 60-minute cooperative musical writing class led by Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Finalist and veteran Theatre Camp Director, Daniel Lipton, or a 5-day group exploration of Brazil and Japan using Little Passports geography activity kits, classes that foster friendships and connection take the best collaborative activities from the classroom and re-imagine them online.
Homeroom & Little Passports have teamed up for after school adventures. This September and October, sign up for classes led by expert K-5 teachers based on Little Passports original, award-winning activity kits!