Guest Post by Amy Schultz & Kristen Slechta

In some ways the 2020 school year has taken me back to my childhood. Thoughts of Sesame Street, Bob Ross’s ‘Happy Trees’, and Mr. Rogers neighborhood keep nudging me.  Why?  What do these childhood icons have to do with NOW and education? They were the pioneers of interactive learning; they were the first remote learning teachers.  How can I channel the calm but engaging demeanor of Bob Ross or the anticipation and melodies of Sesame Street or bring to life Mr. Roger’s world of make-believe?  Perhaps it’s as simple as reflecting on current practices and elevating them into a digital interactive experience.  

Let’s explore a strategy called Cooperative Graffiti.  The title alone ignites curiosity.  I start thinking of splashes of color, collaboration, thoughts, and images. Cooperative Graffiti is a Kagan cooperative learning strategy where learners are grouped (4 is ideal), provided a large piece of chart paper, and a topic.  Students in the group write down as many ideas as they can using different colored pens.  The beauty of this strategy is that every student has a voice AND can express themselves through the lens of their learner tendencies. Students may draw pictures, lists, equations, concept maps, etc. as a way to demonstrate their thinking and learning.

This strategy is highly interactive in an in-person lesson, so how might we elevate it to a digital interactive experience? 

Jamboard….another tool with a curiosity igniting title!  Jamboard is part of the Google Suite and provides up to 27 interactive whiteboards where learners can collaboratively drop images, add notes, brainstorm, unlock their creativity, and experience an interactive digital gallery walk.  This tool can be used to collectively label parts of the body, annotate text, develop classroom hopes and expectations, unscramble sticky notes to make complete sentences and so much more!  If only Bob Ross had this tool to teach students ‘happy trees’!

My favorite example, probably because it reminds me of Sesame Street, is a math example where a teacher drops an image of 4 math equations and the students have to identify ‘which one doesn’t belong?’ and why (see example). THAT is channeling your inner Sesame Street…can’t you just hear the song right now?

Drew Bivens, Math Teacher from Doniphan-Trumbull Public School, 2020

As we take the trolley to Mr. Rogers’ land of make-believe, which for us is the land of ‘COVID Unknown’, I invite you to lean on the remote learning pioneers and consider their interactive delivery methods.  How can you be more Sesame Street?

About the Authors

Amy Schultz and Kristen Slechta are Professional Learning Specialists at Educational Service Unit 9 in Hastings, Nebraska.  They have a passion for interactive teaching and learning.  It’s all about designing learning experiences for ALL learners.  If you are interesting in sharing, collaborating or connecting with Amy and Kristen, contact them on twitter: @amyschultz77 @kristen_slechta

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