The Learning Space

Regular visitors to my blog may have noticed that there hasn’t been a lot of activity. The shift to remote learning (emergency teaching) was a shift that threw a lot of us into uncharted waters and we were just trying to stay afloat.

In addition to joining over 45 Facebook classrooms,  participating in dozens of Zoom classes, and coaching teachers privately over Zoom, I accepted an invitation from the Maine Dept. of Education and Educate Maine to create original video lessons for 3rd-5th grade students that would air on Maine Public television in a series called THE LEARNING SPACE. This was one way to reach our students who did not have internet access or who were looking for some engaging and fun learning beyond our virtual classrooms.

I was nervous about accepting. Who was I? What lessons could I create that would be meaningful? The usual doubts and imposter syndrome crept in. But I remember so much of Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, including:

“your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here.”


So I dove in. I wanted kids to understand the importance of the moment that they were living through and its historic implications. I also am on a mission to expand our definitions of writing to include non-alphabetic elements that allows more seats at the writing table.  As a result  I created a lesson on multi-modal documentary writing.

I realized that wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be and so I combined my LOVE of nature and notebooking to create a lesson to encourage students to start a nature notebook. I took them with me on my daily walk and showed them how I create entries in my own nature notebook.

Heck, now I was on a roll. What else do I LOVE that I would like to share with students and spark their own creative passions?  Poetry! I know this can be intimidating for kids (and grown ups) so I wanted to show them some fun ways to use REMIX to create new poems from found sources of writing, to build on the work of others to create original pieces of work: Poetry Remix!

And finally, I LOVE to connect with kidlit authors. They create the content that our students love, so I know I can learn so much from them. (and they are some of the most compassionate, caring, and sometimes comical people I know!) I asked two Maine authors to help me create a lesson called Writing With Writers. Lynn Plourde has penned dozens of amazing picture books, a nonfiction graphic novel, and a poignant middle grade novel. She’s brilliant. Tamra Wight has authored one of my all time favorite series: Cooper and Packrat Mysteries set in Maine. She is also one of the best nature photographers I know!


If you think any of these would interest or inspire your students, please feel free to use and share. I’d also encourage teachers out there to think about creating some lessons that reflect YOUR passion for life and learning and share those with the world, too!

Another Good Read…

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 10.25.45 AMSTAMPED: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

This is a book I wish everyone, absolutely everyone, would read or listen to. I alternated listening to Jason Reynolds powerful reading on Audible and then going back to reread the words myself to let sections sink in and sit with me. As he writes, “I hope after reading this NOT HISTORY book, you’re left with some answers. I hope it’s clear how the construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, whether financially or politically. How it has always been used to create dynamics that separate us to keep us quiet.
The institutional racism that exists in our world will not just go away without conscious anti-racist policies and people who embrace them. This book will open your eyes to the pervasive laws, policies, and norms that perpetuate racism in ways that may not seem obvious and transparent. Reynolds and Kendi share and explain racism throughout history to young people in a way that makes it accessible and powerful for all people. Reynolds builds on Kendi’ original book “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” and creates and engaging and fast-paced narrative remix that you can’t put down. PLEASE get yourself a copy of this book. PLEASE share it with others. PLEASE learn about and live an anti-racist life. Racism hurts EVERYONE. This book will help EVERYONE.

4 thoughts on “The Learning Space

  1. Paula,

    I love how you shared your loves with others in the blog. I’m glad you “took the leap” with creating the videos. This is great work. Thank you for sharing.

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