Emoji Classrooms, Totem Poles, and Virtual Lockers—Oh My!

It’s the fall semester of 2020, and our teachers and students are already embracing the new school structure. Whether learning or teaching from campus or from home, creativity is at the helm of every lesson. From emoji classrooms and virtual lockers to totem pole challenges and more, see how faculty and students are getting to know one another while having fun as they dive into this new school year!

Step Inside Our Virtual Classrooms

Have you ever seen a virtual classroom? Many of our MICDS teachers are embracing the distance learning environment by putting their own virtual classrooms together and creating their very own bitmoji character.

Step into Upper School Math and Computer Science Teacher Janet Purdy’s virtual classroom! In it, you can find links to websites the class is using which change as the units change. “It’s kind of like decorating a brick and mortar classroom differently as you change topics covered in class,” Ms. Purdy shares.

Virtual Classroom with Janet Purdy

Upper School Math Teacher Al Begrowicz also created a virtual bitmoji classroom for the first day of school. Items in the virtual classroom can be clicked on to take students such places as a video on the calculus controversy, an explanation of Riemann Sums, a bio on Bernhard Riemann, links to email and Zoom, and more!

Virtual Bitmoji Math Classroom

Upper School Math Teacher Lauren Fletcher
is testing out using the virtual classroom for a quiz review for her Integrated Math 2 class. If students click on the different items in her virtual classroom below, they open up practice problems. She also has included links to motivational quotes, a word of the day, and a link to Canvas.
Lauren Fletcher virtual classroom math test

What's in Your Virtual Locker?

Several MICDS teachers have challenged students to create virtual lockers as a way of getting to know one another. Janet Purdy, Upper School Math and Computer Science Teacher, did this in her Integrated Math 1 Accelerated class and Integrated Math 2 Accelerated class. Upper School Math Teacher Lauren Fletcher’s students also created the lockers in their math classes too.

Students were to design their own virtual locker to help their class get to know them better. They included their name and at least five things to tell their teacher and peers about who they are. Some students even made their own bitmojis!

Some ideas of what to consider including in their lockers were:

  • Pictures of family/friends/pets

  • Your favorite book(s)

  • Your favorite movie(s)

  • Your favorite tv show(s)

  • Your favorite music

  • What you like to do for fun

  • A future goal you have

  • Your favorite sport and/or team

  • Your favorite food

  • Your favorite subject to learn about

  • A hobby you enjoy

  • A college you are interested in attending

  • A place you’d like to visit

  • Something you did over the summer

What a fun way to introduce yourself and share about your interests!

“Middle School faculty wanted an opportunity during our orientation days for the students to feel connected while also building community within their Advisory,” shares 8th Grade Science Teacher Callie Bambenek. So MICDS 5th through 8th grade students all made virtual lockers before the start of school during Middle School Bridge.

The lockers helped each advisory reiterate the MICDS Middle School theme of building LEADers. LEAD is a component of our social-emotional learning program standing for:

L – Learn with curiosity and joy
E – Embrace challenge
A – Advocate for self and community

D – Demonstrate collaboration and teamwork

In the virtual locker activity, advisees discovered similarities among one another which helped them begin to find common ground and feel like a team. As a team, they began strengthening their comfortability which is of utmost importance in a virtual learning setting. With establishing their identities, students can become better LEADers that are part of a strong advisory team throughout Middle School.

Behind My Mask, I Am...

With wearing masks on campus, it can be tough to know how someone is feeling. In one of our 4th grade on-campus cohorts, students wore masks while still being able to express themselves. Fourth Grade Homeroom Teacher Chris Brennan asked students to write how they felt behind their masks. Check out their responses in the photos below!

Morning Messages—and Videos—in Middle School

Every morning in the Middle School, a teacher sends a morning message to all 5th through 8th graders. In it, they introduce themselves with a picture, some details about who they are, a reminder of the day’s schedule, and perhaps a few other items. What a fun way to share who each teacher is in the MICDS Middle School!

In Middle School Fine Arts Department Chair/Visual Art Teacher Joanne Vogel’s message last week, she shared that she loves to make videos. She shared a fun video with students that featured her two 10-month-old puppies, Wally and Gromit, and their first day of school. The video below is sure to make you smile!

Totem Pole Presentations in 7th Grade

This week, the 7th grade class presented their totem pole presentations on Zoom. The students read Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen for a summer reading book and then were asked to create a totem pole just like the main character does in the story. Each 7th grader was asked to choose five animals and explain why they picked the animals they did and how each animal relates to them as an individual. Students talked about choosing animals that represent their physical appearance, personality, beliefs, a time when they overcame a challenge, and goals they have for the future. Check out some of their totem poles below!

Using Owl Cameras to Connect in 4th Grade

Fourth grade students are divided into four different cohorts this fall, along with 25% of the class learning remotely. In order for all students in this grade to feel heard and part of the class, each teacher is using an Owl Camera to connect in-person and distance learners.

In one activity last week, students used their own containers of Play-Doh to create a representation of something about them or something they did this summer. Students learning remotely were able to share their Play-Doh creation with their classmates. As each student speaks, the Owl camera rotates and zooms on the speaker, allowing distance learners to connect the speaker with a (masked) face in the classroom!

Owl Camera

Faculty Adapting their Teaching Setups for the Fall Semester

If you’re going to be teaching via Zoom from campus, you might as well utilize the classroom projector to see all of your students on the big screen! Enter Upper School Math and History & Social Sciences Teacher Aaron Proctor whose teaching setup is a great example of how MICDS teachers are adapting to the fall semester.

Proctor Teaching Distance Learning

Continue on in the Upper School STEM building and you might just find Upper School Math Teacher and Coach Greg Huntoon showing off his online teaching setup. Leave it to our teachers to make the most of any teaching situation!

Greg Huntoon online teaching setup

With two weeks down, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for both teachers and students for the rest of the school year!