California Educator

August/September 2021

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My Unsung Heroes Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez fought for the desegregation of schools in Orange County, Califor- nia, and won in 1947, seven years before Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The obscure though extremely important Mendez v. Westminster case came to light when the youngest Mendez daughter (born after the case was decided) read about it while in college. She asked her parents, and her mother said, " Yes, we did that." Very humble people changed our world with their cour- age to speak up. ANDREA EARL, Santa Ana Educators Association Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez For over 20 years I was an elementary instru- mental and vocal music teacher. When I retired in 2016, I usually had two concert or festival gigs per month and a few workshops. Then COVID hit. All concerts, festivals and events were canceled. I began posting You- Tube videos and sharing them via Facebook, Ins- tagram, etc. Some ladies from South Carolina emailed me, wondering if I could teach ukulele via Zoom? I wasn't sure but said I'd try. That was over a year ago and we're still going strong. Several other students have joined since then. We're having a blast! Teachers are very resourceful. We know how to make lemonade out of lemons. Most important: Teaching and music don't stop. We just have a different venue. BILL DEMPSEY CTA/NEA-Retired Before the pandemic, I thought I was sub- stantially computer literate. But I could not believe I was going to teach my 13th year of first grade online! Once I got the hang of Zoom, I mastered our snap scanner, which meant I could share PDFs of papers with parents and colleagues. I learned how to use and share the online reading curriculum so stories were easily read and heard by students, and how to hook up a document camera — an absolute necessity — to my computer. I became much more patient, such as when connection issues made students late and they would want me to restart. One of the most popular online drawing lesson sites was a lifesaver, as were multiple read- aloud videos. DVDs of popular PBS Kids videos reinforced learning, and the kids Before COVID-19 my district planned a K-6 technology immersion school. Being a 54-year teaching veteran, I believe in expe- riential education — it is more engaging and yields higher test scores. But most teachers said, "No, if we just had one-on-one com- puters everything would be fine." Then came the pandemic. My district was good at technology: Every student had computer access; teachers were well trained. But I still felt a lack. In spring 2020, students had no textbooks at home, so I mailed out paper packets. We compared Cinderella stories, did science fair projects and a Shakespeare play — virtually. By fall all students were issued a full set of textbooks and a computer. By midwinter they were given paper packets and art supplies. By spring the big push was "student engagement." My 30 second graders already were engaged! They had had apple tasting, learning to distinguish several types. They had made backyard gardens in apple gro- cery boxes, and had an extra arts hour each school day. My Silver Lining conclusion: For student engagement and optimal learning, it's experiential learning! CATHERINE OSMAN Association of Chino Teachers "After a year of teaching online, I have newfound confidence and patience for in-person teaching." —KIM DARLING LOISEL, Fremont Unified District Teachers Association really enjoyed them. After a year of teaching online, I have newfound confidence and patience for in-person teaching in fall 2021. KIM DARLING LOISEL Fremont Unified District Teachers Association Silver Lining Continued from page 55 56 CTA & You

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