There’s more to the “Welcome” sign hanging in a middle school hallway than meets the eye. The banner weaves creativity, culture and curriculum together to give sixth graders a meaningful way to connect in the hybrid learning environment.
As one of their early assignments in Jennifer Padberg’s sixth grade geography classes, students produced 90-second videos introducing themselves, pronouncing their name as they like to be addressed, and sharing three to five important examples of their identity or culture. They recorded the videos using the FlipGrid app, then Ms. Padberg printed corresponding QR codes. These codes are incorporated into the banner, which was made for virtual Back to School Night in September.
“In a hybrid environment, we do not have the same opportunity to get together as a large advisory group the way we have in years past, so I wanted to make sure that all the kids could get to know each other whether they are learning in person or learning at home,” she said. “For those who have been together in the Barstow community for a while, I challenged them to share something that their classmates might not already know about them.”
For the next step in the project, each student received one square to color, each labeled with "light" or "dark" sections. The shading pattern created the word "Welcome" when the squares were attached together. Ms. Padberg also teaches visual note-taking skills in geography class, so she said this was an easy introduction to the idea of using shading and color to make different sections stand out to the eye.
The video project helped Ms. Padberg connect and build relationships with students who are new to middle school — and in some cases, new to each other.
“It was helpful for the students to have access to their entire grade level of peers, not just those in their geography class. Students new to the Barstow community could take their time getting to know each other, whether they were on campus or learning from a distance.”