Lesson topics come to life for Hathaway Elementary fifth grade students of Sara Elmore and Sydney Croucher as Zoom Classroom boxes on computer screens are filled with faces of students in costume each Friday.

“We are trying to make learning more engaging and personally relevant to the students in fifth grade by incorporating activities intended to bring their learning alive,” explained Elmore. “We end each week with a themed Friday learning celebration. Students are encouraged to make props and/or dress representing topics they are learning about. They can even change their Zoom backgrounds on Friday to fit the theme!”

The classes have had many different themes including patriotic, space, privateering/pirates and more. A zoo/circus theme was tied to their literature story “The One and Only Ivan.” Hathaway Music Specials teacher, Becky Miller, is also tying weekly themes into her music class with the students.

“We even had a remote field trip tied to our World History topics of privateering, trade routes, spice and slave trade, and their ships,” explained Elmore.  “We Zoomed with Keith B. Raisch, a retired Coast Guard Captain of 30 years, and the students were taught about navigating with a sexton, sailing terms, and pirate folklore.”

Croucher said there are a lot of things she misses about teaching in the classroom. “With distance learning, my goal is to make sure we could still enjoy the experiences we loved so much in the classroom, but do it virtually,” she explained.  “For example, picture day! I miss getting all dressed up and getting to take home a keepsake class photo to remember the class by. To make this possible via zoom we made a virtual class photo together and kids each designed their own avatar. Then we dressed the virtual class photo up for Halloween, that was super fun.”

“We want these themes to make the week more exciting and interesting for the kids,” added Croucher. “Sara and I also relate our asynchronous work assignments (independent study) to the theme.”

“The students enjoy the bit of fun as well as the anticipation of celebrating their learning topics each Friday,” Elmore said.