California Educator

June/July 2020

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Jessica Benson Math: Six feet of separation C O V I D - 19 I S A N excellent teaching tool for math, relates Jessica Benson, an algebra teacher at Ánimo Inglewood Charter High School in Los Angeles and member of Asociación de Maestros Unidos. The spread of the virus fit in well with her lesson on the exponential function. "[Students] saw it was authentic math that people are using to predict the spread of the virus exponentially and when it will peak. Epidemiologists are expecting cases to double every six days, so we talked about what that equation looks like, based on Los Angeles County data and statistics. Kids could see how mayors and governors arrived at their conclusion to close down and for how long." Becky Vega, math teacher at Morse High School in San Diego, adapted a math lesson out of an XKCD comic she saw on Facebook. In her optional exercise, "The 6-Foot Zone," students are asked to visualize how much space that represents. "They calculate the amount of total space surrounding themselves in the 6-foot social distancing space. Then they choose an object at home and calculate how many of those objects fit in the space. This helps them see how much space they need to themselves if they go out." Vega, a member of San Diego Education Association, uses the Go Formative platform to watch students work in real time and gives her a chat box for timely feedback. She says it won't be easy to link upcoming units, such as right triangle trigonometry, with the coronavirus. So, it will be back to teaching the standard curriculum — until the circumstances of this teachable moment inspire another innovation. Becky Vega Messages to essential workers U S T B E F O R E H E R school closed, Jessica Guccione asked her seventh grade science students at Venado Middle School in Irvine to create public service announcements to educate their peers on how to reduce transmission of COVID-19. She had them go to "trustworthy websites" such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Students created upbeat TikTok videos with song lyrics on such topics as handwashing and how to replace hugs, handshakes and high-fives with alternative greetings. "It made me proud how they created such wonderful projects," says the Irvine Teachers Association (ITA) member. "They now know where to go for factual information." ITA member Amina Ahmed, who teaches at University Park Elementary School in Irvine, incorporates the pandemic in writing and research lessons with students in her fifth and sixth grade combination class. They create research reports on Flipgrid, including uploading videos for class review. They also create multimedia informational slides and made a timetable of events. For an assignment on persuasive writing, students were encouraged to write letters to medical workers, firefighters, police officers and grocery store workers. They were asked to explain the importance of what essential workers are doing, point out the challenges and risks they face, and describe what would happen in their absence. "We talk a lot about primary source documents in history class, and I want stu- dents to understand that this is a historical moment and we are creating primary source documents in real time. They totally had buy-in that yes, they are now historians." Jessica Guccione Amina Ahmed J 31 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 0

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