California Educator

August/September 2021

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Keeping it fun Yolanda Stack, a fourth grade teacher at Tierra Bonita Elemen- tary School in Lancaster, had a roomful of Chromebooks for summer school, and the students never opened them once. "Everybody got sick and tired of being on computers in the pandemic," says the Eastside Teachers Association member. "So I tried to be fun and creative and still play catch-up with students who enjoyed reading books, making presentations, doing worksheets and using math manipulatives. I incorporated science, music and art into hands-on activities, which students missed during COVID." Students were separated by Plexiglas and wore masks and stayed 3 feet apart, but were happy to be there. "We had so much fun. We were getting into a groove. en, sadly, it was over." Faith Hurst-Bilinski, a teacher at Davidson Elementary School in San Bernardino, was sur- prised when nearly a third of the 400 students in her school enrolled in summer school. Summer session was the first time students had seen each other in person in over a year. "Our mission was creating a fun way for stu- dents to readjust to school, see other students and adults in person, and provide a safe space for students who are struggling," says Hurst-Bilinski, a member of San Bernardino Teachers Associa- tion. " We were aware that three weeks was not going to make up for all the skills that were missing. But we knew that being too rigorous on students who had been gone for a year and a half was not going to be beneficial. So we focused on SEL, project- based learning and games to address basic skills." Her fourth and fifth grad- ers had to remake the story of " The Three Little Pigs" and write a pitch to a film company explaining why it should be made into a movie. ey loved the assignment. Educators told summer school students they'd be leaders this year at school because they are so prepared and know how to do school. Students were sad when it was over. Exploring hidden talents "We created a camp," says Genevieve Lunt, a teacher at Heninger Elementary School. "is was not something students in our poverty- and trauma-filled area typically have available to them." It was the first time any students had returned to campus since March 2020, says Lunt, a mem- ber of the Santa Ana Educators Association. Many were fearful, because the community was hit extremely hard by the coronavirus. "Our middle school teachers and the principal taught their passions to students," says Lunt, who regularly teaches English. For summer school, she shared her passion for teamwork, collaboration and volleyball. Other teachers shared interests such as Ballet Folklórico, poetry and film, baking using math, photography, and the "history of 4th Street, visiting a street rich with history in the downtown area." "We rebuilt classroom and community. e kids thoroughly enjoyed it. Students saw a different side of us — and teachers saw a different side of ourselves. I would say, all in all, it was a huge success. "We rebuilt classroom and community. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it and saw a different side of us. teachers saw a different side of ourselves." —GENEVIEVE LUNT, Santa Ana Educators Association 50 Teaching & Learning Genevieve Lunt Faith Hurst-Bilinski

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