How We Learn: Capes With a MessageDecember 11, 2020
WHERE: Belvedere Elementary School, Los Angeles
WHO: Jane Ching Fung (CA '02) and the four- and five-year-olds in her transitional kindergarten class. All instruction has been virtual during the 2020-21 school year because of COVID-19.
WHAT THEY'RE DOING: Making "capes with a message." Jane sits on the Skirball Cultural Center's teacher advisory council and got the idea from a virtual workshop centered around this activity. Field trip funding has gone unused during the pandemic, so she used some of it to purchase a box of supplies (a blank cape, stickers, fabric, glue, etc.) for each one of her young pupils. Parents picked up the boxes at school and brought them home in advance of the Zoom class dedicated to the project. The class talked about what kinds of things students might want to put on their capes—messages related to their family members, heritage, the environment. Then, working with parents, siblings and other caregivers, students used the materials in the box to decorate their capes.
WHY: Remote learning has been a challenge for everyone, but keeping preschoolers engaged via a computer screen requires both constant creativity and a strong partnership with families. "My families this year are truly my partners in educating their children," says Jane. "A third of my students have special needs, and most are English language learners. Many have language delays. Young kids associate capes with superheroes, with power. I wanted this activity to help them understand that they have a voice, that they can use their voice to express themselves, and that their voice has power."
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