The Year of the Pandemic March 2020

August 2019

October 2019

November 2019

12-20-19

January 2020

February 2020

3-16-2020

Last day on the middle school campus

Every year I walk to our classroom and this is one of the things I notice. It reminds me of what we go through each school year. We arrive full of summer experiences with a little green. We gain color and wisdom with each day feeling fuller and more vibrant. As we learn and grow, we shed what we don’t need providing more room for new experiences and perspectives. At times we feel cold, drenched, and even vulnerable yet new life appears. We didn’t get to see how our adopted trees changed since March but they did change and that is a given. With that change begins a new cycle come August. We do not know what our days will look or feel like yet but honestly nobody does, ever.

Each day we wake up and ‘get to’ not ‘have to’ throughout our day. While at school we took some things for granted. While at home, we reminisce about what we long for when we were at school. As we return to campus, hopefully, next school year, those same thoughts will pop up. What we need to understand is that we can like one thing and dislike another thing at the same time. It does not have to be all one way or another. To further feel grounded and in a place where we own our own learning, we need to understand what works best for us, how we can leverage our strengths, and how we can strive for improving upon things that are more challenging for us. All the while, we do this in a community, our DA family. We are a part of a larger entity striving for excellence and including everyone who wants to show up on that journey. Yes, we have to show up. We have to decide what we are willing to give, do, and act upon. Each day since March 16th has felt like a mix of a fantasy world with harsh reality. I want to share some moments with you.

We had no idea when we left for spring break we would be learning at a distance

As we approached the end of spring break, we got the news on March 15th  that school will be different.

On Monday, March 16th, I was on the middle school campus for the last time. Teachers met, sitting 6 feet apart, to learn how we would continue learning together.

3-16-20

We were introduced to Microsoft Teams and set up our classes. On Tuesday, March 17th, there were virtual meetings firming up details. I was helping Señor Glass and Madame Moore with a new program at the Bruegger’s near our campus when we got word that the dining area would be closing to the public until further notice. This was getting real.

3-17-20

For a while, I held out hope we would be back together again. At the same time, I looked forward to hearing your voices and seeing your faces when we met online for advisory, classes, and scheduled meetings.

There were many times when I say, “How fascinating!” as I ask you to do when things are not going as planned. Seven days a week, I have checked my laptop before 7am, throughout the day, and again around 9pm to check assignments, give feedback, plan for the upcoming week, and answer questions. Nothing replaces being together, face to face, responding spontaneously but we are fortunate to be together as a learning community during a time when many cannot.

March 2020

One of my favorite authors, Brené Brown, says “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” We had choices every single day during this stay at home, remote learning, pandemic. We chose to show up. All of you know my favorite wisdom tale we read this year has the moral, your own eyes are watching. Ultimately, nobody can make us do something. It has to come from our heart. We learned how compound effect, our daily actions, not only create habits but give back exponential goodness. We experienced this with the plank challenge which was followed up by choosing something to do every single day from drinking water, to push ups, or writing in the planner.

On our classroom door

Plank Challenge November 2019

Think about how many books and pages we read on our own this 6th grade year. We discovered new authors, genres, and new worlds. Our writing improved because we read through a writer’s eyes. Visiting authors shared their wisdom and visiting author, Frances Dowell, wrote stories with you! Artist Peg Gignoux helped us create our own handmade hero books which we will share when we are together again.

Frances Dowell

Handmade Hero Books with artist Peg Gignoux

Think about our I Am statements and our one word this year. We posted our index card with our I Am statements at home and were going to say them to ourselves every morning and every night. How we talk to ourselves as well as others, is powerful.

My one word was Thriving but I am adding self-discipline. In order to achieve my goals, I have to take daily action. I have to choose to take that action and I do it because my own eyes are watching. Ultimately it is up to me to get where I want to go even if I’m not totally sure where I’ll end up. I always learn from others, ask for information, and have an accountability partner to share ideas with. I own my decisions as they guide me going forward. I hope you keep your Life List and refer to it now and then. Add to it, check things off, and remember that anything is possible. It begins with curiosity.

One Word

Camp Cheerio is a rare moment for many reasons but most of all, we get to see what we are capable of while making new friends. After our visit to the Forestry Center, I wonder how our adopted tree on campus is doing now without all of us around? Nasher Museum, Stagville, and the Sound Wall project all bring smiles.

Camp Cheerio August 2019

Nasher Museum, Durham

Forestry Center

Getting materials from the Scrap Exchange to make sound walls for local preschools

Keep reflecting, creating, and sharing on the blog. I was struck by what Cana wrote at the end of her 6th grade year review. She shared, “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I learned that I don’t like watching problems pass by, but like solving them instead. I am coming up with new ideas to try to help in any way that I can, and consider being an informed citizen very important. I also learned the importance of things I took for granted, like hand sanitizer, the healthcare system, and the true value of friendship, which I used to think was not very important. I have learned many lessons this year, from good and bad experiences alike, had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and made new memories.”

Everyone experienced some kind of loss and some kind of gratitude. This year our oldest daughter got married and a month later, I lost my father.

Jordan, Nicole, and Brynn

October 5, 2019

 

My dad taught me how to tell stories through my lens, my window and my mirror

Jordan is working in the MICU in Charlotte, NC where all of her patients are Covid positive. She makes sure every patient and their family feels heard and cared for.

Jordan

Brynn’s four year experience as an exercise science major at UNCW included two hurricanes and having to leave campus before her senior year ended due to the stay at home order. She’s loved playing soccer her entire life and even gave basketball a try with Coach Harris when he taught at Phillip’s Middle School.  She is excited about beginning PT school at Elon in January.

We have to go about our daily lives differently now with physical distancing and smaller gatherings.

Mrs. D and Madame Moore at Harris Teeter

No toilet paper in sight

We may have to show we are healthy in new ways before coming on campus each day. My husband has to do this for work each day too.

Nick Donnelly

 

There are many times when we wanted to escape our reality as Maggie is jumping and barking to get outside. Think of all of the things you discovered, created, did more of, or let go of because of this experience.

We now have a vegetable garden

And have had time during the light of the day to get outside and move.

 

A friend shared this and I think it rings true now and for always.

 

We are about 6 feet apart here having fun. We can do this!

May 28, 2020

Stay safe, call a friend, write a letter, read a book, be curious and kind…

It’s been fascinating!

 

 

 

 

Decisions, Decisions

How do you make a decision? This is one of the many reasons I love learning with middle school students every day. There is something in that prefrontal cortex! We brainstormed all of the decisions we make from sunrise to sunset. Next, I asked them to think about how a decision is made. Really break it down. What goes on in your head? Here are some of the highlights:

*I make decisions based on how I feel
*Decisions eventually come down to your moral compass
*I go with my gut
*I look at my choices, think of the outcome, what chance is it going to be a good outcome? set mind to the decision I choose
*I think of how it benefits me and others
*If I don’t study Spanish, my mom will kill me so that decision is made
*For tough decisions, I talk with other people and do pros and cons

 

Students get to decide what they read, where to work in the room, and what resources they need to engage in a task.

 

How do you make decisions in your life?

Creativity

It’s so much more than 6th grade. It’s so much more than Language Arts. One can consume all the knowledge in the universe but what good is that if one cannot create? Read more about what we value at Durham Academy Middle School ~

https://www.thedagraduate.org/blog/2018/3/20/creativity-by-patti-donnelly

My Brain by Michiko

In our Language Arts class we drew our brain and wrote what we thought would be in it. Around that I put my Life List. My Life List has things that I want to do, places I want to go, and doing something for someone else. On my Life List I have some of the following things: go to New York, visit Hawaii, help someone in need, be on a school sports team, travel to all seven continents, own a beach house, and be someone’s hero. I choose to put those things on my Life List because if I had unlimited money and time, that is what I would try to do. Another thing that is on my brain is topics like school. I put school on my brain because school is an important part of your life, and sometimes it can determine your career. School teaches you things that you need to know in life. That is why I put my Life List and school on my brain.

 

My Brain by Grace

 

This year in Language Arts class we made a Life List, and put what we wanted to do before we die. Everyone wrote one, mine had mainly things I want to do with my friends and places I wanted to travel. I really enjoyed writing mine. I would like to keep up with it and check it off later. I can’t wait to do some of the things on my Life list. I think it is a fun way to keep track of what you eventually want to do.

 

iPad Experience by Lana K.

lanaipadblog

 

 

 

 

 

As we have progressed through the iPad experience, I have a new mindset about the iPads. I have realized that they are a privilege and we are lucky to have them. Although sometimes they have glitches, they have allowed us to discover new ways of learning. For example, the iPads have allowed us to access new apps and websites in a jiffy. Especially in Language Arts class. We have used so many apps and websites that have helped us through this experience a bunch. I think that the iPads have benefitted my sixth grade year way more than it didn’t and I’m so lucky to have had the chance to participate in this program.

Membean by Katie

 KatieCblogpostpic
http://membean.com/

In Language Arts class, we do Membean. Membean is a website that helps you learn new vocabulary words. I like Membean a lot because it gives me many different ways to learn the new words. I noticed that I learn best when I repeat the word and it comes back up every so often. Membean does that and the word keeps coming back up until I learn it.

We wrote the Membean developers letters. I wrote in my letter about where the “I’m done” button is and that it should be moved because it is right above the “Continue” button and sometime I hit the wrong button. The Membean team wrote back and said that they are going to move the button.

I really like Membean and I think it really helps me learn. I think other students should do it too. It is a great way to learn and it is fun too. It is fun because they have videos for when you get introduced to the word. The videos are my favorite part about Membean. Membean is a great way to learn new words and I love it.

 

My First Memory To Go by Lana K.

Photo from FlickStorm

If I was in the position of the Giver in the book by Louis Lowry, I know what memory I would give up first. I would give the memory of a beach.

The beginning of the memory would start with the Receiver’s toes in the sand. Then, she would slowly, walk to the water because she would not be in any rush. Next, she would let the the tide roll over her feet. The scenery would be serene with no havoc being raised. For the rest of the memory, the Receiver would swim and relax in the ocean air.

I would choose this memory to give to the new Receiver because I would want them to experience serenity and happiness. P.S. I love the beach!!

 

Giving Away A Memory by Kira S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Language Arts class, we are reading a book called The Giver. In The Giver the receiver and The Giver take away all the bad memories from the people in the community and even some of the good memories.

If I were to give away a memory I would give away the memory of deaths in my family first. I would give away deaths in my family because watching family members pass away would be something that I wouldn’t want to keep seeing in my mind. I would rather remember the good things about them and not the memories of the being sick or in pain. When losing that memory, I would also gain the good memories of them and the good thoughts about them. I would also rather give away the bad memories before the happy ones.